Scheer non­sense

New PC leader’s Khadr com­ments in­cred­i­ble

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - IAN GREENE Ian Greene is co-ed­i­tor of Hon­est Pol­i­tics Now.

When I was a young man in Al­berta, I en­joyed cam­paign­ing for the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives in fed­eral and pro­vin­cial elec­tions. The PCs stood for prin­ci­ples that mat­tered to me: telling the truth, no mat­ter how much ex­pla­na­tion is needed, and the rule of law. It takes gump­tion to stand up for such prin­ci­ples, be­cause they of­ten re­quire tak­ing a stand con­trary to pop­u­lar opin­ion.

I know of very few PC lead­ers in 2017 who still have that courage to stand up for such prin­ci­ples.

Take fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive Party Leader An­drew Scheer, in his July 27 op-ed piece about Omar Khadr in the Toronto Star. It is full of mis­in­for­ma­tion, first ad­vanced by the Stephen Harper gov­ern­ment even af­ter the Supreme Court — with a ma­jor­ity of Con­ser­va­tive ap­pointees — unan­i­mously ruled both in 2008 and 2010 that Khadr’s rights had been egre­giously vi­o­lated both by the il­le­gal (ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Supreme Court) “courts” in Guan­tanamo Bay, and by Cana­dian of­fi­cials who in­ter­viewed Khadr.

The Khadr sit­u­a­tion is com­plex and hard to ex­plain to those who sim­ply want what ap­pears to be a strong re­sponse to the world’s evils. The eas­ier course is to go with the flow to get votes from those you’ve helped to mis­in­form.

Scheer writes that Canada’s top court never or­dered the gov­ern­ment to pay for Khadr’s il­le­gal im­pris­on­ment and tor­ture. But com­pen­sa­tion was not the is­sue be­fore the SCOC. It was whether Khadr’s rights were vi­o­lated (they were) and whether he should be repa­tri­ated (he should’ve been). In spite of the court’s strong rec­om­men­da­tion that Khadr be repa­tri­ated in 2010, the Harper gov­ern­ment re­fused to repa­tri­ate him.

Scheer’s state­ment that “the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment ac­cepted the find­ing (and) Omar Khadr was brought back to Canada” is an out­right lie. Af­ter the 2010 Supreme Court de­ci­sion, the Harper gov­ern­ment re­fused to repa­tri­ate Khadr.

As a re­sult, Khadr was given the op­tion of spend­ing the rest of his life in a cage in Guan­tanamo, or ac­cept­ing a plea deal in which he would lie about his cul­pa­bil­ity, but have the right to serve an eight-year sen­tence in Canada. Khadr took the plea deal.

The Harper gov­ern­ment was forced to repa­tri­ate Khadr in 2012, and they did their best to keep him in prison. The feds con­tin­ued to in­sist that Khadr was not a child sol­dier who de­served re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, but a ter­ror­ist. Cana­dian courts dis­agreed, and Khadr was re­leased from prison in Canada in 2015, given the likely suc­cess of an ap­peal in the United States.

Scheer never men­tions that Canada, un­der Harper, ne­glected its in­ter­na­tional obli­ga­tions to treat Khadr as a child sol­dier, nor that there is no cred­i­ble ev­i­dence that Khadr was re­spon­si­ble for the death of U.S. Delta Force sol­dier Sgt. Christo­pher Speer. In fact, it is just as likely that Speer was killed by friendly fire. Be­cause much of the ev­i­dence has been de­stroyed by the il­le­gal regime in Guan­tanamo, we will never know.

Nev­er­the­less, Scheer refers to Christo­pher Speer as “Khadr’s vic­tim.”

Fi­nally, Scheer claims the cur­rent gov­ern­ment had a choice not to pay Khadr, and it would have been more sen­si­ble to fight the li­a­bil­ity bat­tle in court. I have not read of a sin­gle lawyer who claims that, un­der such a sce­nario, Khadr might have re­ceived less than the $10.5 mil­lion (half of which went to pay le­gal fees).

Most lawyers who have writ­ten on the sub­ject es­ti­mate that a pro­longed law­suit would likely have re­sulted in a set­tle­ment sig­nif­i­cantly higher than $10.5 mil­lion, not count­ing the ad­di­tional mil­lions the gov­ern­ment would have spent fight­ing such a case. Yes, the gov­ern­ment had the choice to keep fight­ing a clear los­ing bat­tle in court. Some choice.

In a vi­brant democ­racy, we hold our politi­cians to ac­count to tell the truth, no mat­ter how inconvenient, and to act hon­ourably to cor­rect false nar­ra­tives. It is clear that Scheer has nei­ther the hon­our nor the in­tegrity to do ei­ther. So much for a prin­ci­pled Con­ser­va­tive move­ment in 2017.

How­ever chal­leng­ing, we need to hold such un­prin­ci­pled politi­cians to ac­count, lest we suc­cumb to the “fake news” epi­demic south of the bor­der.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.