Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says, on Global News, regarding the $10.5 Million payoff to Omar Khadr, ““I can understand Canadians’ concerns about the settlement. In fact, I share those concerns about the money; that’s why we settled. If we had continued to fight this, not only would we have inevitably lost, but estimates range from C$30 to C$40 million that it would have ended up costing the government.”“
He might be right … maybe.
But he’s also playing fast and loose with numbers. It has been suggested that we, the Government of Canada, have already paid $5 Million in legal fees … but, surely most of that is in salaries to government attorneys who would be paid anyway. I guess some might say that those civil servants/lawyers could have been doing something else, something more productive or more important. But that begs a question: what if a fight, even one in which the odds are heavily against you, is a “good fight,” one that honourable men and women should fight, even if the chances of victory are slight? Should one not be able to say “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith“? Isn’t one of reasons we elect leaders? Don’t we want them to do the right thing, even when it’s hard?
I’m reminded of a quote by the American management expert Warren Bennis:
Now, I suppose that Justin Trudeau can argue, with some justification, that he “did things right;” he settled without a long, expensive, difficult, uphill legal battle. But was that the right thing to do?
American General Norman Swartzkopf said, and I agree, that:
Many, indeed most Canadians say that the “right thing to do” would have been to fight it out in court ~ not the easy thing, but the right thing. Which brings me to Churchill:
I think that’s the nub of it; I suspect that Prime Minister Trudeau did his “best” to “do things right” but he failed to do what Canadians require of a leader, which was to stand up and fight, even to defy the law because, sometimes, what’s legal and what’s right and just are different. Canadians, by and large, know that what Justin Trudeau did was good management but it was, also, weak leadership.
Canadians wanted a defiant Winston Churchill, standing alone, if need be, to “fight the good fight.” Instead, we got, in Justin Trudeau, our own (photogenic) version of Neville Chamberlain, promising that, for a mere $10.5 Million he had bought us legal “peace in our time.”
Is Prime Minister Trudeau right? Would we have lost the case in court? A lot of legal opinion seems to say we would have lost. But, we’ll never know, for sure, will we? We’ll never know because we never “fought the good fight.” We, Canada ~ not all Canadians, just the Government of Canada ~ surrendered without any fight at all.