2017-07-12 In a recent posting by Chris MacLean on July 11, 2017, the editor of Front Line Defence highlighted the recent actions by the Trudeau government which run counter to Canadian interests as perceived by the Canadian public.
Not many Canadians agree that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did the right thing in awarding a $10.5 million settlement to Omar Khadr, according to a new poll by the Angus Reid Institute.
In fact, the vast majority of Canadians say the federal government made the wrong decision in settling a lawsuit with former child soldier Omar Khadr by paying him $10.5 million in compensation for his treatment as a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Respondents to the poll overwhelmingly agreed that the government should have left it to the courts to decide whether Khadr was wrongfully imprisoned.
Delving further, a full 61% of people who said they voted Liberal in 2015 felt that the wrong decision has been made. That increased to 64% among NDP voters. Another 27-30% in these two groups would have offered an apology rather than a payout.
According to the poll, a full 69% of Conservative voters would have “offered nothing” to Khadr.
Further, two-thirds of Canadians reject the notion that government officials had “no choice” but to settle – but money appears to be the main source of opposition to the deal. Canadians are slightly more inclined to have said sorry to Khadr than to offer compensation.
When asked if Omar Khadr has ultimately been treated fairly or unfairly, Canadians most commonly answer that they are unsure (42%); slightly more are inclined to say he’s had fair treatment (34%) than unfair (24%).
Omar Khadr was born in Toronto. His family moved back and forth between Pakistan and Canada during his youth, eventually settling in Afghanistan in 1996. It was in that country that he was arrested in 2002, at the age of 15, allegedly killing an American soldier during a firefight. His father, Ahmed Said Khadr, was reportedly a founding member of the al-Qaeda terrorist group.
Gravely injured in the conflict, Omar survived and eventually spent 10 years at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay. While there, he pleaded guilty to several charges and was convicted by an American military tribunal. He later said the guilty plea was made under duress.
In 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Canadian government of the day acted unconstitutionally after Khadr’s arrest, and that it is partly responsible for his continued imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay. He was transferred to a prison in Alberta in 2012 and released on bail in 2015 while appealing his U.S. conviction. In 2004, he sued the federal government for $20 million for wrongful imprisonment.
As mentioned, the Canadian government has now responded by settling out of court, offering a formal apology to Khadr, and paying him just over half the amount he had been seeking.
Khadr has said that he hopes the apology will help to restore his reputation, as he moves on to the next phase.
One of our colleagues has highlighted the danger which this poses to United States-Canadian counter terrorism policy.
Now that Omar Khadr is rich in Canada, any thought to launching a civil suit in USA to collect damages from him for killing a US soldier?
The ramifications of this case goes far beyond Omar Khadr, but to the heart of whether Canadian security services can pass on information about terrorists to other intelligence agencies (which by its nature will be based on intel) and then not assume liabilities in a Canadian court.
And it raises questions as to the liabilities assumed if a Canadian official is present at any event (not on Canadian soil) involving a foreign terrorist. In effect, because a Canadian interrogator was present at Gtmo, Canada assumed a liability for any alleged wrongs done to them by the US (or other regimes) under Canadian law.
It basically destroys the ability of Canadian law enforcement and intelligence to co-operate with other intelligence services without always thinking of their liability for actions beyond their control.
What is needed is legislation that shield the Canadian law enforcement community from these liabilities if they acted in good faith — very much like laws that shield police officers when they use lethal force.
At a minimum, if a Canadian official is present, if they took no active part in whatever action — they ought to be immune. Preferably, if they acted in good faith, they can only be judged according to the laws of that jurisdiction they are present in, not Canadian law.
If the Trudeau regime do not urgently introduce legislation and change the rules — that is going to be disastrous to intelligence and security cooperation with Canada.
The real scary part about this is not just the financial compensation, but the official apology — which severely constrain the hands of officials in future.