Why is the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment pay­ing Omar Khadr?

The Western Star - - Editorial -

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s pay­ing mil­lions of dol­lars to Omar Khadr be­cause it is (partly) re­spon­si­ble for his hav­ing been mis­treated in a United States mil­i­tary prison is not re­quired by Khadr’s pur­su­ing jus­tice.

Rather it, at best, amounts to the gov­ern­ment’s brib­ing Khadr with its cit­i­zens’ money to forgo the pur­suit of jus­tice against those Cana­di­ans ac­tu­ally re­spon­si­ble for his be­ing mis­treated. And these were a rel­a­tively few of­fi­cials, who ought to be pun­ished per­son­ally, in a man­ner be­fit­ting their of­fence.

All of the tax­pay­ers of Canada, who Justin Trudeau says must pay when their gov­ern­ment does wrong, did not, merely by elect­ing ei­ther those di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for Khadr’s mis­treat­ment or those whom they obeyed, au­tho­rize that wrong­do­ing — un­less it is pre­sumed in the Con­sti­tu­tion of Canada that vot­ers elect their govern­ments to do what the govern­ments choose, whether right or wrong or in ac­cor­dance or in con­tra­ven­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion it­self.

For the Con­sti­tu­tion says our fed­eral gov­ern­ment must gov­ern in ac­cor­dance with the prin­ci­ples of fun­da­men­tal jus­tice, and the most fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple of jus­tice is that per­sons de­serve the ef­fects of what they do. That means not that when elected govern­ments do wrong, their cit­i­zens are re­spon­si­ble for an er­ror of judge­ment in elect­ing them, but rather it means that those elected have be­trayed the trust of their cit­i­zens that they would do what is right, so that those guilty of that be­trayal ought to pay the penalty for be­trayal.

If it is gov­ern­ment, on the other hand, which de­cides that the peo­ple as a whole are re­spon­si­ble for its er­rors, then that amounts to the chief in­stance of its tra­duc­ing its peo­ple in the first place. For or­di­nary peo­ple or­di­nar­ily do as­sume, though they may not con­sciously ar­tic­u­late its im­pli­ca­tions, that per­sons de­serve the ef­fects of what they do, un­til govern­ments in charge of “ed­u­ca­tion” bring them up to for­get it. If most peo­ple were ac­cus­tomed to see clearly and ar­tic­u­late con­sciously the im­pli­ca­tions of that prin­ci­ple, they might more of­ten dis­agree ex­plic­itly with their elected politi­cians and the lat­ter might get away with less than now they are get­ting away with.

Years ago, re­port­ing on a wrong­ful-death law­suit, I heard a New­found­land Supreme Court judge say the plain­tiffs might claim only what money they could rea­son­ably ex­pect their son to have earned for them if he had lived.

If the same prin­ci­ples ap­ply in cases of mis­treat­ment less than killing, as they ought, then those par­tic­u­lar Cana­di­ans re­spon­si­ble for Omar Khadr’s be­ing mis­treated owe him only what he could have ex­pected to have earned if not im­pris­oned or what in­ca­pac­i­ta­tion re­sult­ing from mis­treat­ment pre­vents him from earn­ing. Pay­ing him more amounts to buy­ing from him the right to mis­treat him, and any court ap­prov­ing of that trav­esty would in­deed likely let him name his own price, as our young prime min­is­ter seems to have thought it would.

I be­lieve this ex­plains why, though most may not have thus set forth ex­plicit rea­son­ing, many or­di­nary Cana­di­ans are much up­set over the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s pay­ing those mil­lions to Omar Khadr.

Colin Burke

Port au Port

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.