I take note of the extreme high dudgeon with which many, many Canadians, especially conservative Canadians and Canadian veterans have greeted the news that Omar Khadr has received $10 Million or more and an official apology from the government. As the linked CBC News article suggests this is old news and was ever since “the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling on Jan. 29, 2010, that found Khadr’s human rights were being violated at Guantanamo Bay … [because] … In that case, the court dealt with the visit of CSIS and Foreign Affairs officials to the prison in 2003 and 2004, under the previous Liberal government.“
It’s really very simple: it was no secret that the Americans, in the early years of this century, were using various forms of torture (“enhanced interrogation techniques” in the kind of horrid doublespeak that bureaucrats love to use when unpleasant things are discussed). Leaving aside the utility of torture it is, undeniably, illegal under any light of Canadian law and the fact that intelligence agents and diplomats may have gone further than just not protesting is inexcusable. What is worse is that we may be better than 99% certain that two prime ministers, Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, and three justice ministers, Anne MacLellan, Martin Cauchon and Irwin Cottler, and one clerk of the privy council, Alex Himelfarb, knew what was being done to Mr Khadr, a Canadian citizen, and, to the best of our knowledge, did nothing (publicly) to stop it. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet did the right (minimum necessary) thing, albeit reluctantly, and arranged for Mr Khadr to return to Canada to finish his prison sentence. So: we ~ official Canada ~ knew and we failed a citizen and the courts opened the way for him to seek redress for the nation’s failure.
Now, I wish that Omar Khadr wasn’t a Canadian, I sincerely wish that the entire Khard clan had never been allowed to set foot in Canada (1975) but, as my grandfather used to remind me, if wishes were horse then poor men would ride. I just, at time of writing, came back from a walk … the poor remain on foot.
It doesn’t matter that Khadr was (or wasn’t) a “child soldier ~ legally, under the Geneva Conventions, he wasn’t. It doesn’t matter who put him up to doing what over in that god-forsaken place. It doesn’t matter if his confession was coerced or a smart legal tactic. It matters, a wee, tiny bit that he killed a US Army medic but what really matters is that when the Americans tortured him ~ when he was, by our legal definition, still a child ~ his own government sat idly by and the Supremes, correctly, said that was wrong … morally wrong and legally wrong. He has a right to sue; he did that; this (the $10 Million) is, most likely, a “cheap” way to settle.
Now it may be that the US soldier’s widow can and will sue Mr Khadr; I hope she does; I hope she wins; I hope the ‘deal’ doesn’t include the government covering the costs of Mr Khadr’s subsequent legal issues ~ I wish she can sue him and his family into abject poverty ~ but wishes and horses, again.
This is a sad story in every respect … but I’m not outraged, not even angry, just profoundly disappointed in almost everyone involved, and, I’m almost ashamed to admit, ever so slightly, pleased that the Conservatives will be able to make Justin Trudeau suffer, politically, for this, even though he is, relatively, blameless. It will be, as John Ibbitson says, in the linked article in the Globe and Mail, a political albatross around his neck … it couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.