Last blog I suggested we might need a more balanced look at the Omar Khadr file. I expected to get some negative feedback, and I certainly did.
Why did I use a picture of a teenage Khadr? Because he was a teenager when the incident happened. And another: He wasn’t a child soldier under international law at the time. He was a child under Canadian law, and unfortunately, he is a Canadian born citizen whether we like it or not.
Earlier this week, Andrew Lawton substituting on Danielle Smith’s talk show, interviewed John Carpay, a citizen’s rights warrior who many of you are familiar with. John was discussing some of the too frequent incidents of governments trampling on a citizen’s rights.
Lorne Grabher is a Nova Scotian who’s had a personalized license plate, with his name on it, since 1991. Recently, a woman complained that it was hateful and promoted violence against women, so the government of Nova Scotia refused to renew it. (Personally, I don’t know that I’ve ever run into a woman that sensitive, but obviously, they’re out there.) In any event, the government took away Mr. Grabher’s freedom of speech, including the freedom to use his own name! You might think it’s trivial, but it’s not. It’s about free speech.
Most provincial governments have passed laws restricting free trade between provinces. It’s against the intent of Confederation, but until now, they’ve gotten away with it.
New Brunswicker, Gerard Comeau, realized he could buy beer in Québec much cheaper than in New Brunswick, so he made a beer run and brought back a trunk load. The RCMP was waiting for him, and charged him under provincial law. Now, you may be a teetotaler and think this doesn’t concern you, but, again you’d be wrong. Anytime a government tramples on the freedoms of a Canadian citizen, we all need to be concerned. Incidentally, Comeau fought the law, and he won.
So back to Omar Kahdr. It is a fact that he was 15 years old when he threw the grenade that killed the American soldier. There is reasonable doubt that he threw the grenade, but let’s accept it as fact, so he was taken to Guantánamo and spent 10 years there as a prisoner.
During that time, he claims he was tortured. I personally don’t think sleep deprivation is torture, or else I’ve been tortured for many decades. But when sleep deprivation is employed as a tool for obtaining a confession, there can be reasonable doubt as to the veracity of that confession. In any event, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled, unanimously, that during his time at Guantánamo, Khadr’s rights as a Canadian were abridged.
And that’s the crux of the matter. When a government tramples on any citizen’s rights, that government must be brought to heel by every legal means possible, even if we believe that particular citizen to be inconsequential, or despicable, or, someone who, in our eyes, deserves no rights.
I have been uncomfortable with the lynch mob mentality that has accompanied this case from the beginning, just as I was regarding the Maher Arar case. Jurisprudence based on emotion is something to be feared by every Canadian.
Liberals and Conservative governments are both culpable, but the Liberals are most deserving of our opprobrium. A couple of decades ago Prime Minister Jean Chretien actually intervened on behalf of Khadr senior, a known terrorist, but the genesis of this debacle began even before that with a Liberal immigration policy primarily designed to create Liberal voters.
The Conservatives brought some sanity to the immigration file; Justin Trudeau is bringing back the insanity as quickly as he can.
Personally, I am in total agreement with Kelly Leitch’s proposal that we screen immigrants for a willingness to accept, and adopt, the values that have made Canada a magnet for millions. And one of those values is the right to due process.
We don’t need immigrants or refugees that favour sharia law, nor those who practice female genital mutilation, nor for that matter do we need Northern Ireland Protestants who get overwrought about a 400 year old battle, or Basques that feel that car bombs are a legitimate political tactic.
Of course the $10 million settlement is ridiculous, and the way Trudeau handled the file displayed typical Trudeau hubris. The Khadr case should have been allowed to wend its way through the judicial process, even if it ended up costing taxpayers $40 million, and it might have.
Hopefully, something’s been learned from this immigration related debacle.
Don’t hold your breath.