As it has been for many Canadians I’m sure, the Omar Khadr thing has been on my mind a lot. First and foremost is the fact that the Canadian government―headed by Justin Trudeau―which sends young Canadians over to Afghanistan to fight ISIS, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and the rest, gives in to legal pressure and awards 10.5 million to a guy who left (was taken from) Canada to fight against our own soldiers. I wondered how much Omar would have received from Al-Qaeda if he’d sued them or Al Jazeera for promoting and selling their ideals to him and his father. Instead he used a Canadian lawyer (or maybe a Canadian lawyer used him) and sued the Canadian government based on a ruling by the supreme court on the Charter of Rights: which was given to us by Justin’s father―also a lawyer. The government will have to borrow the 10.5 million to pay Omar due to the fact that they are already spending a lot more money than we give them and that Justin promised he would spend. Even so, our credit is apparently quite good.
I watched a story the CBC did on the situation and they interviewed Omar. He seemed like a nice enough young man and I felt kind of bad for him. Thought bad things about Mr. Harper’s government people who let a fellow Canadian down after they went to visit him in Guantanamo Bay. I read the Rolling Stone story on Khadr from 2006 titled: The Unending Torture of Omar Khadr (Google: rolling stone khadr 2006) and was sickened by what I read. Get this: “In January 2002, the president’s (Bush) lawyer, Alberto Gonzales, working for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, advised the president that nearly all forms of torture were legal. Physical abuse was not torture unless it generated the intensity of pain associated with ‘organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death.”
Are you kidding me? Do the armed forces have a training school(s) that teaches people how to do things that really hurt people but stop just short of organ failure, impairment of bodily functions or death? What kind of person would enroll in a course like that? What would they be like when they went home to the wife and kids after work?
I remember reading a book about the Romans and their use of torture. After the victim confessed they would keep on torturing the poor guy (girl) because they figured someone being tortured would confess to anything because… hey!... they were being tortured! You just can’t win with these torture guys.
A few days later I had coffee with some guys and they asked, “Why did the government give him this money under the condition that he keep the details of the deal to himself?” Good question I thought. Do we, the people whose children’s taxes will be used to pay back the money the government borrowed to pay Omar, not have a right to know all the details? Another guy followed that up with, “I wonder how much of that money went to his lawyers? And how much did our government spend on their own lawyers?”
Great questions I thought. Are we within our rights to ask for a detailed financial accounting of this whole incident: who got what and what did this whole mess really cost? I am sure they don’t want us to know how little respect they have for the money we give them and that our children will have to give them. As the famous Liberal politician C.D. Howe once asked, “What’s a million?”
Justin Trudeau says that this was the cheapest way out and would save us, the taxpayers, millions of dollars. To be fair, I note that the whole thing started on Harper’s watch and Justin merely inherited the problem. But still, it didn’t cost Justin a dime… or Harper either for that matter.
I saw a caricature-type picture on the internet of Trudeau giving a smiling Omar a cheque for the 10.5 and apologizing to him as he did so. In the background was a Canadian soldier who had been wounded in action. He had a tear in his eye saying that it looked like he had fought for the wrong side. Can you blame him for thinking that? What would you tell them? “Hey man, his constitutional rights were violated. It goes way beyond the injury thing. Let the lawyers handle it. They are just doing the Lord’s work.”
Eventually, I came to see this whole Khadr thing as a tragic and disgusting situation involving a kid who had been taken away to fight against his own country by his father: he never really had a chance and thus the case is made that he was not legally or morally responsible for what he did.
My cousin Kurt says that, “The government of the day should have started right away to try and get Omar back. They should have done everything in their power to protect my rights, your rights, Omar’s rights as a Canadian citizen. If that had happened, no law suit and no 10.5 million settlement because we tried: we did what we could to get you back. You have no case. The supreme court is there to protect our rights in case the government lacks the guts (or the will) to do it.”
When I read the 2010 judgement by the Supreme Court of Canada, they ruled that as a Canadian citizen, Khadr’s rights were violated. They ruled that the Canadian Government must step in and act on his behalf due to his basic Canadian right: the “liberty and security of person.” The government did not do it and thus his rights were violated. The Harper government’s lack of action put the Trudeau government in a legally compromising situation with only one way out.
But here’s where I have a problem with that. As a boy, Omar was taken by his parents from Canada to Afghanistan and lived in Osama bin Laden’s camp where he helped build I.E.D.s and other types of explosive devices that killed, injured and maimed Canadian and American troops. Then he actually tossed one that killed an American soldier or at least admitted to doing it but, if he didn’t, somebody in his group did and he was there with a gun, so...? I believe that anybody who does that whether in their right mind or not would be considered to have renounced their Canadian citizenship. Cummon man, you’re throwing grenades at us!
Okay, so you say he was just a kid. And that is the really tough part of this whole situation. He was subjected to a horrible, inhumane ordeal and legally it wasn’t even his fault since he lacked the mental capacity to know and appreciate what he was doing. It was his parent’s fault. And in order to escape the Gitmo thing, he obviously now wants very badly to be back in Canada. That’s easy to understand. Who wouldn’t? It’s his only way out of Gitmo. The only way he would ever have wound up back in Canada was the way he got here.
But, if he had not been captured that day, would he still be over there and fighting against us? He would still be 26 and if you asked him what nationality he was, what do you think he would say?
I wish the CBC had asked him that question in their interview.
In all the interviews I saw with you Omar, you never said that you were against the people you fought for. Not an army of war mind you but an extreme religious sect. What do you think of them now Omar? I never heard anybody ask you that but I really want to know and so do your fellow Canadians.
Here is what I think we should have done?
I think our delegates should have had a real heart-to-heart with Omar when they visited him in Gitmo and told him, “Okay kid, you left here as a young Canadian citizen and you were unlucky enough to get shot and captured but we tend to believe that if you had not been captured, you would still be over there doing things that are much worse than the terrible things they are doing to you in Guantanamo Bay.”
This is a tough issue for a lot of us as Canadians to work through Omar. Sure, the Charter of Rights says that we should have done more and done it earlier and you can thank your lucky stars―all 10.5 million of them―as well as your lawyers, for that. And now you are back here, a citizen despite the fact that we think that if you had not been shot and captured, you would probably still be over there throwing grenades at us and that sits hard with a lot of us. So, give us a break here. We have actual soldiers here who must deal with much more horrible injuries that you received and they aren’t getting 10.5 million or anything like that. From what I understand the max is $360,00 for them and they have huge issues with PTSD and suicides.
When you think about all the other places on this little rock hurtling through space where Canadians have fought and died horrible deaths so that the rest of us, lucky enough to call ourselves Canadians, can live this life we live today, you should keep in mind that they fought for you and the rights you have just claimed.
So now that it’s all said and done, if you really want to do the right thing―the Canadian thing―take the money you get after your lawyers are done carving out their end of the deal and give 45% of it to the family of the man you killed, 45% to the Canadian veterans of the war who are injured and severely handicapped from their wounds received at the hand of your pals over there and use the rest to buy yourself a good education and go to work. Write a book! Then maybe besides having the Supreme Court and the PM apologize to you, Canada will embrace you because you did what most of us believe is the right thing to do with the money. And stay out of trouble. Please.
We need to put an end to this.
That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong. But if you really think I am, you give Omar the 10.5.