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Khadr settlement ‘responsible path to take,’ says Trudeau

If government had kept fighting Khadr case, ‘we would have inevitably lost’, at a cost of millions more than settlement, says Trudeau


 

OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau says he shares the concerns of Canadians who object to reports of the government’s multi-million dollar settlement with Omar Khadr.

But the prime minister says if the government hadn’t settled with the former Guantanamo Bay inmate, it would have cost as much as $40 million to put an end to the case.

MORE: Canadian government formally apologizes 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,” Trudeau said Thursday.

Khadr had filed a $20-million lawsuit against the government for violating his Charter rights, and has received an out-of-court settlement reportedly worth $10.5 million.

“If we had continued to fight this, not only would we have inevitably lost, but estimates range from $30 to $40 million that it would have ended up costing the government,” Trudeau said.

“This was the responsible path to take.”

RELATED: Effort to freeze Khadr money dismissed by judge

Khadr was sent to the notorious U.S. prison after being captured during a firefight with U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002. He was 15 years old when he was wounded in a battle in which U.S. Sgt. Chris Speer was killed and fellow Delta Force soldier Layne Morris was blinded in one eye.

Khadr was interrogated in 2003 and 2004 by Canadian intelligence officials. Khadr says his jailers threatened him with rape and kept him in isolation, and once used him as a human mop to wipe up urine.

Khadr, now 30, pleaded guilty to five war crimes before a widely condemned military commission at Guantanamo Bay in 2010. He said he agreed to the plea so he could get out of the American prison and return to Canada. He was released on bail in 2015 pending his appeal of the war crimes conviction.

In 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canadian officials violated Khadr’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms during their interrogations. It found they were participating in the “then-illegal military regime” at Guantanamo.

Omar Khadr walks to meet the press before a news conference after being released on bail in Edmonton, Alberta, May 7, 2015. Khadr, a Canadian, was once the youngest prisoner held on terror charges at Guantanamo Bay. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

Omar Khadr walks to meet the press before a news conference after being released on bail in Edmonton, Alberta, May 7, 2015. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

The government payout has angered rank-and-file Canadians, as well as veterans groups, and has exposed the Liberals to scathing political attacks from the opposition Conservatives.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper issued a statement last week condemning the settlement as “simply wrong” and now is reported to have contacted both Morris and Speer’s widow to express his outrage.

OPINION: The shady business of paying Omar Khadr

The Toronto Sun reported Thursday that Harper called Morris at his Utah home on Wednesday and apologized for the settlement in a six-minute conversation.

The Sun said it is believed Harper made a similar call to Tabitha Speer, but added that has not been confirmed.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation dropped off a petition at Trudeau’s office Thursday bearing the signatures of more than 133,000 Canadians opposing the payout.

Trudeau said the lesson for future governments is that when they violate a Canadian’s rights, everyone pays.

OPINION: Why I changed my mind about Omar Khadr

“The measure of a society – a just society – is not whether we stand up for people’s rights when it’s easy or popular to do so. It’s whether we recognize rights when it’s difficult, when it’s unpopular.”

A group of veterans also voiced their unhappiness, given their ongoing battles to seek compensation for injured ex-soldiers.

The most prominent is a class-action lawsuit in B.C. that alleges the government is violating the rights of today’s veterans by refusing to give them the same lifetime disability pensions as previous generations.

Some veterans have also threatened to sue the government after the military forced them to take the anti-malarial drug mefloquine, which they say caused psychological damage.

OPINION: Omar Khadr remains a prisoner of partisan politics

“This justice we see with Khadr is something we would like to see ourselves,” said John Dowe, who says he was forced to take mefloquine while serving in Somalia.

That sentiment was echoed by the Equitas Society, which is leading the legal battle in B.C. for a return to the lifetime disability pension that Trudeau promised to bring back in the last election.

“I know many Canadians are outraged by Mr. Khadr receiving over $10 million dollars of tax payer money,” Equitas Society president Marc Burchell said in a statement.

“But every Canadian should be even more outraged that Prime Minister Trudeau is treating our disabled veterans so very poorly.”

MORE: Omar Khadr hopes to ‘turn a page’ after settlement, apology


 
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Khadr settlement ‘responsible path to take,’ says Trudeau

  1. Justin Trudeau says we don’t pay terrorists.
    Two Canadians held for ransom are beheaded by Islamic terrorists in the Philippines.
    JT, the “Little Prince”, pays a convicted murderer/terrorist 10.5 million CDN taxpayer dollars.
    Hmmm…
    How many CDN soldiers were killed or maimed by the IEDs Khadr built?

  2. The Canadian Press never mentions explicitly that it was the Liberal governments of Chretien and Martin that violated Khadr’s charter rights. The media has NOT asked Chretien and Martin about this. They are the ones responsible and should have to answer publicly.

  3. Due to the confidentiality terms of the settlement, the public has not *officially* been told the amount Khadr received.

    So when Trudeau says “it would have cost as much as $40 million to put an end to the case”, for all we know Khadr received $40M and not $10.5M.

    There is no rationalizing keeping the amount of the settlement secret.

  4. OK is no different from a young punk who shoots someone outside a 7-11 and then claims his rotten childhood made him do it. We going to start paying them off too?

  5. Damn good thing Churchill didn’t say, “If we take this path fighting the Nazis, we will inevitably lose”.

    What we do have is a loser for a PM.

  6. The Khadr settlement raises concerns on many levels. I agree with previous Prime Minister,Stephen Harper that the settlement is “simply wrong”. Tax payers should not have to bear the burden of this enormous payout and it sends the wrong message to extremists and terrorists.

    Any person who leaves Canada to fight abroad for radical causes even as a “child soldier” have made the decision to kill others. Should they still retain their full rights as Canadian citizens? There are so many issues with extremists who are using their rights in Canada to kill others abroad and this only creates a loophole in our prosecution of these individuals. A revision is needed to the Charter of Rights and Human Rights legislation to prevent this from taking place.

    The apology should have gone to the people who suffered the consequences of this terrible mistake. Apologies are extended to widow Tabitha Spears, Sergeant Layne Morris and all the veterans of war who really need government support to return to their lives. A travesty of Justice!

    • It’s terrific to see the 71% who oppose this outrageous settlement speak up.

  7. This sends a strong message to anyone in the Canadian Armed Forces that Trudeau supports Terrorism .I wonder how much of this money will be going back to Afganistan to fund people that want to destroy us…Trudeau should hold his head in shame…

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