The shady business of paying Omar Khadr

Khadr deserves to get on with his life, but Ottawa did everything wrong with his $10.5 million payout. This is going to leave a mark.

Omar Khadr leaves court after a judge ruled to relax bail conditions in Edmonton on Sept. 18, 2015. The federal government has paid former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr $10.5 million as part of a deal to settle his long-standing lawsuit over violations of his rights, The Canadian Press has learned.Speaking strictly on condition of anonymity, a source familiar with the situation said the Liberal government wanted to get ahead of an attempt by two Americans to enforce a massive U.S. court award against Khadr in Canadian court. (Amber Bracken/CP)

Omar Khadr leaves court after a judge ruled to relax bail conditions in Edmonton on Sept. 18, 2015. (Amber Bracken/CP)

Well. That was quick.

Only five days into a national bedlam of opprobrium and sanctimony that began with rumours that Ottawa intended to say sorry and shell out $10.5 million to make amends for ignoring the constitutional rights of the famous Gitmo boy-terrorist Omar Khadr, and all of a sudden, the deal is already done, the cheque’s already been cut, and Khadr’s already cashed it.

Public Safety Minister Minister Ralph Goodale expended a great deal of effort on Friday to the purpose of appearing righteous and proper, and went so far as to lay blame on the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper: “The Harper government could have repatriated Mr. Khadr or otherwise resolved the matter,” Goodale said. “They didn’t.”

That is going to leave a mark. But not on the Conservatives.

RELATED: ‘The money has been paid’ to Omar Khadr

The misdeeds Goodale was insisting we should all atone for—the specific trespasses upon Khadr’s constitutional rights that Goodale cited to justify the government’s sudden sorry-saying and cash payout—were committed in 2002 and 2003, before Harper’s government was in power. At the time, Goodale himself was a Liberal cabinet member.

If the intention of the deal was as Goodale said—to cut Canada’s losses in the $20 million civil litigation Khadr’s lawyers initiated in 2004, and help Khadr escape his notoriety and get on with his life at last, which he does deserve—this is not how it’s done.

In his lawsuit, Khadr contended that Canada conspired with the American military 14 years ago by allowing Canadian intelligence officials to elicit statements from him about the terrorism charges he was facing at Guantanamo Bay, without allowing him any access to a lawyer. Canada effectively collaborated with U.S. military authorities in Khadr’s brutal mistreatment. In sum, he was abused in a way that “offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects,”as the Supreme Court of Canada described it, in a 2010 decision.

RELATED: Omar Khadr remains a prisoner of partisan politics

A loss-cutting settlement might make eminent sense, but the whirlwind was allowed to clatter along all week without so much as a proper media briefing, an official statement, a formal explanation or even a single honest and candid answer—not even when the question was put directly to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a press conference in Ireland. Absurdly, neither the payout amount nor the wording of the apology were mentioned Friday, owing to the deal’s confidentiality provisos.

Donald Trump’s White House had been “pre-informed” about the settlement, but all week Canadians have been obliged to rely on assumptions, unnamed sources and conjecture, drawing from all the usual reservoirs of prejudice and partisan bias in speculation about the political considerations that went into the deal and the political embarrassments it was intended to avoid.

After 13 years, suddenly a deal is cut, only three weeks after a faint-hope U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act injunction application to block any payout to Khadr was filed in Ontario Superior Court on behalf of Tabitha Speer, the widow of Delta Force Sergeant Christopher Speer, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2002 by a hand grenade that Khadr may or may not have thrown.

Khadr was only 15 when he was taken into custody after being horribly wounded in a Taliban firefight with U.S. Special Forces. He pleaded guilty to the charge of murdering Speer, then later claimed he’d copped a plea only to get transferred to a Canadian prison, and has since claimed he does not trust his own memory of throwing the grenade. Now 30, Khadr was released on bail two years ago, pending his appeal of his several dubious military-court convictions in Guantanamo, and lives in Edmonton.

Tabitha Speer and Layne Morris, a since-retired U.S. Special Forces officer wounded in the 2002 firefight when Khadr was captured, were seeking to block any federal payout to Khadr. They were relying on the strength of a 2006 Utah District Court default award of $134 million for Sergeant’s Speer’s wrongful death and Morris’ loss of the sight in his right eye.

On Friday, lawyers acting for Speer and Morris were in Ontario Superior Court seeking a date for an “urgent” hearing. The whole effort looks moot now, but lawyer David Winer told reporters he may seek an interim preservation order, which would have the effect of freezing Khadr’s assets.

The strange rush to settle has left the Trudeau government facing the prospect of having to explain why Omar Khadr deserves justice, but the widow of an American soldier who died in a battle when Omar Khadr was a fighter on the other side, does not.

It is also worse than awkward that we’ve all been left to surmise that the Khadr deal takes its precedent from the 2007 settlement in the quite dissimilar case of Maher Arar.

RELATED: Maher Arar’s mind cannot forget

Arar was awarded $10 million and a fulsome apology in 2007 after a judicial inquiry determined that misleading information from the RCMP may have played a part in a decision by American authorities to trundle Arar off to Bashar al-Assad’s torture dungeons in Syria. The inquiry concluded that Arar was in no way linked to terrorism.

At the time, Prime Minister Stephen Harper described the Arar affair as “a tremendous injustice.” The apology to Arar came by way of a both an official government statement and a unanimous House of Commons resolution.

In contrast, Omar Khadr was raised in an infamous Egyptian-Palestinian “al Qaeda family” whose many members spent years in Osama bin Laden’s inner circle in Taliban-held regions of Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s jihadist badlands. Omar’s teenage skill set included proficiency in the assembly of sophisticated improvised explosive devices.

RELATED: Widow of U.S. soldier goes after Khadr payout

An all-party apology would seem unlikely in Khadr’s case, especially in the way developments have unfolded this week. Opposition leader Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives are not in a very forgiving or apologetic mood. Not every MP in the Liberal caucus is happy about the way this has come together, either.

This is not the sort of thing that just blows over and fades away.

This post was updated July 11, 2017.


The shady business of paying Omar Khadr

  1. “Ottawa has reached a $10-million settlement with Maher Arar over Canada’s role in a U.S. decision to deport him to Syria, where he was jailed and tortured.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper is scheduled to make the settlement announcement on Friday afternoon, when he will also issue a formal apology to Arar on behalf of Canadians.Sources told the CBC the government will also pick up Arar’s legal fees.”

    That is how ignorant the Reform Haters are. Losers lined up to say nonsense that has no factual basis or understanding of history or of the implications of Supreme Court decisions.

    • Maher Arar was not a convicted terrorists nor was he a murderer. It’s pathetic that you can compare him to Khadr.

      • I am confused: when a 15 year old boy allegedly kills an American soldier in war he is a terrorist. And when a President of USA blatantly lies about weapons of mass destruction and starts a war that kills a million innocent civilians and cost trillions of US dollars : he is a hero? This is a mad , mad world ….

  2. This article has one argument. The Supreme Court of Canada disagreed. As such, it was either a settlement or much more cost fighting and losing for an even larger settlement.

    How about fully understanding the issue’s legal dimensions before writing this stuff.

    • If Trudeau made the payout to save money from a highly plausible payout as you suggested, why did he give Khadr an apology? He could have said “Khadr you asshole, you definitely don’t deserve this payout and I will make sure that you won’t see a dime of it as it goes to the Speer’s family first, but I am doing this to save Canadian taxpayers some money.” Since Trudeau didn’t say this, it’s obviously to me that saving Canadian taxpayer money was not his motive in making this settlement. Secondly, if Khadr knows he would win an even larger settlement, why would he settle now?

      • Why settle now? Maybe because he’s sick of it all and just wants to move on…

        • It’s far more likely because $10M is a really good deal!

        • The big question is related to the precedent it sets. Adam Capay who spent 400 plus days in solitary confinement had his charter rights violated as well by agents of the government. How many others are going to be found to be in the same situation and the federal government has now set a dollar amount for what that suffering is worth. What about the First Nations people who were abused in residential schools? Surely, they too suffered greatly and had their charter rights violate at the hands of government employees. Is Justin Trudeau willing to pay each of them this amount of money when he hasn’t yet managed to keep his election promise to provide equal funding and access for education and medical care for their children and grandchildren?

  3. Justin Trudeau is cozying up to the UN, trying to curry favour, and offering up our troops and Canada’s good name to whitewash the abuses and rape by UN “peacekeeping” forces in Africa, instead of speaking out and demanding those responsible be held accountable.

    • Say what? What the heck are you talking about and what the heck does it have to do with this case?

      • My point is that the Liberals have learned nothing. They talk a human rights game, but it’s all hat.

        They violated Arar’s and Khadr’s constitutional rights. And Justin Trudeau, for personal future gain for himself and his posse of young Laurentian elites, are will to forego telling truth to power (i.e the UN) and use Canada’s good name to whitewash UN peacekeeping human rights abuses, primarily of women and children.

  4. Who KNEW in a Librano World you could take arms against your own Country and get paid $10.5M..

    • Who knew that someone educated in Canada could understand so little about the rule of law in a free democracy.

      • Canada should never be required to repatriate a convicted terrorist and known murderer just because he is a Canadian citizen. Our laws needs to be revised as it makes a mockery of our free democracy.

      • TJ, Before you criticize others knowledge of the legal aspect of this case, you should do some additional research yourself. The Supreme Court confirmed that Khadr’s human rights were violated and left it to the government to decide what to do. For Khadr to receive any financial remuneration, it had to be shown that Canada conspired with the US on Khadr’s human rights violations at Guantanamo. That NEVER would have been proven (since untrue) and Khadr would have received nothing. Repatriating a terrorist killer back to Canada was more than adequate.

      • Komarade Conway Sooo according to the rule of law Khadr should be tried for Treason he took up arms against Canada..

        • The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that agents of the government violated Omar’s Charter rights by what they did at Guantanamo. That’s why there was an apology given along with the negotiated civil settlement of $10.5mil Lawyers for the government decided to settle–we’ve already spent $5m on legal fees.

  5. The Harper Government paid over 5 million to fight this case in court so far It would have been at east anther 5 million more to continue this doomed fight.
    The court would have awarded at leas the 20 million asked for in the lawsuit .

    England as well as other countries paid millions in reparations to their citizens citizens held in Guantanamo and they at least tried to bring their citizens home None acted in as egregious a fashion as Canada.

    He is a political football and a fundraising bonanza for the CPC who refuse to admit their own actions made this payout necessary and have continued to blow their dog whistles and in the words of a former Fox news employee,” stir up the crazies”.

    No matter how or when this was done by the government the Conservatives would have acted in exactly the same way because that is how thy are and what they have sunk to after the hijacking of the PC Party by Reform.

    • Hate and hypocrisy go together. No surprise. And, both are the alt-right brand.

      • And yet Hitler was a socialist.

        • Ahhh I see you’re going to be a liar… well as alt-right.

          Well that takes you out of the running as a commenter.


          • Emilyone, you were the one who provided a link to show Nazi stands for “National Socialist” when I thought it stood for “National Socialism”. Whose the lair here?

  6. Completely disgusted! I can’t believe I work everyday to pay taxes for this. How does Omar Khadr get $10.5 Million and a formal apology for trying to kill westerners. Canada needs to stop being a doormat.

  7. LOL whole lot of sputterin’ goin’ on. Racism will do that.

    • when in doubt play the racism card …. its not about racism or religion, its about a self confessed treasonous murderer receiving a big lump sum (that will probably end up with his ISIS relatives). No amount of Emily’s bullying can refute that.

    • We should have offered Omar a night of passionate lovemaking with emilyone. We could explain that while martyrs receive the services of 72 virgins in paradise, failed martyrs receive a 72 year old virgin in Sudbury.

      • a little below the belt … but still pretty funny

  8. Mr. Khadr I am sorry for you. Yours is a sad story but you have no good ending in sight. You are going to discover the meaning of pyric victory
    First of all I realize you became a terrorist as a result of your perverted upbringing and not as a result of sober, mature upbringing. Sadly your family was not arrested for the crimes they commited in your upbringing.
    For two reasons I believe the SCOC overstepped its pervue when they extended charter rights outside of Canada to someone that is no longer a citizen of Canada (you renounced your rights as a Canadian when you tock up arms against Canada.
    You have gamed the system and are now a millionaire. Don’t get to comfortable with that millionaire term. Your lawyers told you that you needed to settle ASAP because of the US $135M wrongful death claim. Isuspect that they won’t be fooled and they will force you into bankruptacy. By now your lawyers will have the money and they will”protect it” for you. And they will work very hard to protect it until it is gone. And every cent you may ever earn will have someone elses name on it. Mr. Khadr the legal system that “saved you” is going to consume you.
    Just a friendly piece of advice: you should have sued the specific person or persons that denied your charter rights along with the government the taxpayers would have felt much better about the payout and you would have the same result.

    • Khadr claims he just wants to get on with his life and prove that he’s a good person. Every day that he holds on to his settlement money, instead of handing it over to the families of his victims, makes that lie ever more self-evident.
      It’s a simple gesture. If he hasn’t done it by Tuesday, he never will. That makes him a liar and a con.

  9. As I sit here contemplating the back and forth bantering over who’s rights tops who’s, I have lost all faith that Justin Trudeau represents the majority of Canadians. I was resigned that he was elected and I supported him under that pretense. Now he has sole custody of any and all fallout in regard to supporting and rewarding Omar Khadr.

    • Justin has the same socialist bones as his father had. This won’t be the last bone headed thing Justin does-he has his father’s awful legacy to beat.

  10. Due to Khadr’s age at the time, his terrorist father, the murkiness of the details of the firefight, the US law he was imprisoned under, and subsequent actions of the US and Canadian governments, I really can’t muster the vitriol that others can. Colby Cosh has a good article on this – I’d encourage others to have a look:

    However, I do wonder about the appropriateness of the reported *amount* of the award, as $10.5M seems rather high to me.

    And I’m livid that the government has not officially confirmed that the award was in fact for $10.5M. This is totally unacceptable. There is no reason for the amount of the award to not be publicly shared with Canadians, and brings into question whether it was in fact only $10.5M. If I’m going to muster any vitriol, it’s directed at the Canadian government for its lack of transparency on this.

  11. How about supporting the Speer children with their education since they are now fatHerless thanks to Omar Khadr at I am sick of this media circus. The media, judges, universities et have made the terrorist into the victim and the ignored the real victims. By the way, Ret Sgt Layne Morris, who KHadr blinded with the grenade which killed Speer gave a kick-ass interview on CTV which clarifies a lot of myths aboutmKhadr. HE was a eyewitness to Khadr’s terrorism.

  12. At 15 I and all other youths know the difference between right and wrong. Khadr knew exactly what he was doing. He was shot for it and his life was saved by US medics. He was sent to prison where I’m sure conditions would not have been ideal, as should not be. He was released into Canada by Harper at which time he certainly did not look like someone who had been deprived of anything. He served a short period in our jails and is now a free Canadian. After what was done for him, he has the audacity to sue our government.

    • Unlike most 15 year olds, Khadr had a father, and presumably family, that had been telling him that what he was doing was not only right but required. I would imagine he had been so indoctrinated for many years prior to going to Afghanistan.

    • At 15 my 15 yo thought she should be able to not go to school move to the res and drink all day.

  13. I believe that the right thing to do is for Omar Khadr, once he has paid all legal costs, etc., to give the remainder to a non-Islamic charity. But not to the volunteer U.S. soldiers who have, themselves, the blood of thousands of innocent women and children on their hands.

  14. – A child soldier is defined as younger than 15yo & a member of a recognized military. Omar was 15yo (almost 16yo) at the time & not a member of a recognized military.
    -Regardless, in Canada under Common Law, young offenders can be & sometimes are tried as adults when the situation is deemed serious, as in a murder charge.
    -He was effectively an “independent combatant” acting as a terrorist & not covered by the Geneva Convention, therefore not afforded it’s protections. He & his terrorist comrades had no status on the “battlefield” as they were not part of any “army”. Essentially, they were acting as criminal “thugs”.
    -The best evidence available, provided to military court, said that he killed unarmed Sgt. Speers, a medic, & wounded another US soldier, costing him the sight in one eye.
    -Because he was not with a recognized military, i.e. he was not a soldier, he is simply seen as a “criminal murderer”.
    -Sgt. Speers US medic colleagues saved Omar’s life after the fire fight. He then rec’d. the best of care at US military hospital.
    -If his detainment in Cuba infringed on his “rights”, that had nothing to do with Canada.
    -If Canadian officials somehow violated his “Charter Rights” in questioning him while in Cuba, how is this worth 10.5 million? Perhaps 10.5 thousand.
    -For some perspective, a CDN soldier’s family receives about 350 thousand if he/she is killed in action.
    -Omar built IEDs that possibly killed or maimed CDN soldiers.
    -Omar is pictured displaying the severed trophy hands of coalition soldiers.
    -Why are charges of being a traitor to Canada not being explored? Does the “Charter” cover convicted terrorists & murderers who may be traitors as well?
    -Why did the CDN government hasten the pay out to attempt to “cut out” the killed & injured soldiers legal claims?
    -The pay out will still likely be accessible as it was “fraudulently” moved into a trust, or other, to protect it from a pending legal action.
    -Given the 10.5 million award Omar rec’d., the honourable thing would be for him to: 1. Give it back to the CDN government to help care for wounded CDN military personnel & repay CDN taxpayers for Canada’s support of him. 2. Give it to the US families seeking compensation. Or, 3. Repay the US military for saving his life.

    • Treason kinda loses meaning to dual citizens.

      It causes nothing but problems.

      Some commitment.

    • JK56
      You wrote “– A child soldier is defined as younger than 15yo & a member of a recognized military. Omar was 15yo (almost 16yo) at the time & not a member of a recognized military.”

      I wrote a post on this topic earlier in this comments section. I was wondering about something Peng had said, and now you are saying the same thing.

      My point was this happened 15 years ago, and I have not seen when the term “child soldier” was made a legal term. Furthermore, and what I have seen, is that a person younger than 16 could not join the military. And this may well be where the slight distortion of that comes from, that a child soldier is one 15 or younger. What it was back then, I don’t know. If Omar would have been 14 or 15 when he was taken prisoner, he was probably conscripted at age 14 or 15, but before any laws were made.

      The significance of this is that if Omar is being treated now as having been a child soldier when at the time he was not, legally, actually, or any way, then none of this business about paying him this money because he is a mistreated child makes sense.

  15. MACLEANS you really need to stop perpetuating this silly idea the widow is a victim of anything, her husband jointed up willingly.

    • “… her husband jointed up willingly”.
      What does that have to do with anything?
      He was killed & the other US soldier injured by a illegitimate, illegal combatant, i.e. a convicted murderous criminal terrorist. In law, it is as if you were murdered in the street. It is not a “soldier on soldier” action of war.

      • You allege Omar Khadr was a “convicted murderous criminal terrorist” not a child soldier, but he wasn’t ever tried in a court of law for these or any crimes. Canadians have the right to the presumption of innocence. That doesn’t exist at Guantanamo.

        • Your assumption, “… the presumption of innocence. That doesn’t exist at Guantanamo”, shows your bias & is simply wrong.
          He was convicted by an appropriate military court that had legitimate jurisdiction in the environment in which he acted.
          Despite what some may wish, he did not meet the criteria of “child soldier”.

  16. There are two important lessons to take away from this.

    Being a treasonous dual citizen can pay you and your cause 10 million.

    Taking treasonous dual citizens prisoner will cost us all 10 million.

  17. ” Trudeau” Probably left it up to Lawyers to settle things, Mr Peng.
    If our representatives had done their duty and not succumbed to US domination ,then we probably would have a legal footing. SOMEBODY didn’t .
    Blame the medic for saving his life ,in the first place. Compassion can be really problematic.
    As far as our PM “cozying up to the UN”? I think that’s the whole idea of the UN,isn’t it. For the members to cozy up to one another.
    KOMRADE? Why is it when someone offers the/a rationale explanation, and not the RIGHT response ,the suggestion of communism? Turn off Fox News.

  18. He admittedly murdered a U.S. MEDIC and severely injured another! It can not be determined how many other lives or disabled soldiers may be a result of the IEDs he placed! He is from a family of terrorists, some very high level He was a proven very active and admits to being terrorist! The Canadian govt makes him a Multi Millionaire. . Then the Liberals govt rushes through his payout so any possible law suits from the wife’s and children of the families he has destroyed have no coarse of action…. Sleep well Canadian Taxpayers