Choose your own position


Yesterday during QP, Liberal MP Geoff Regan stood and asked about the case of a Nova Scotia resident languishing in a Spanish prison. In response, Diane Ablonczy stood and outlined the government’s position on the repatriation of Omar Khadr. She later lamented for the House audio system.

All of which wouldn’t have been cause for much notice except for the fact that Ms. Ablonczy’s volunteered comment on Mr. Khadr—”We will respect the agreement between Omar Khadr and the U.S. government”—seems to contradict the position of the Public Safety Minister.

A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Thursday the minister’s decision about the 25-year-old Guantanamo prisoner’s transfer to Canada will be made irrespective of the deal Khadr signed. “It would not affect the minister at all,” spokesman Michael Patton told the Toronto Star. “I don’t know what’s in the plea deal but it wouldn’t matter because the minister is not a signatory.”

… According to government sources in Ottawa and Washington, the embarrassing exchange reflects a behind-the-scenes uncertainty about the Khadr case, which has divided Canadians for almost a decade and which the Obama administration seems eager to hand over. Senior officials with the U.S. Defense and State Departments met with their counterparts in Ottawa last month to discuss the case, but left without finalizing details.


Choose your own position

  1. The Minister’s spokesperson seems to imply that an agreement of the Canadian government means nothing if a new Minister takes over.  How absurd.

    • That’s not what he’s saying, I don’t think. 

      It’s not just that Vic Toews personally wasn’t a signatory to the plea deal between Khadr and the Americans, no Canadian Minister’s signature is on that deal.  It’s a deal between Khadr and the Americans.  Nobody signed that deal on behalf of the Canadian government, because no one asked the Canadian government to sign off on the deal.

  2. Avoiding the issue raised about Omar Khadr for the moment, is no one else rather blown that a question is asked about a citizen in Spain, and the response is a brief comment on Mr. Khadr that has absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Halliday?

    Did Ms. Ablonczy just dream up a question in her head and decide to answer that one instead?

    • It’s one thing to not hear the question., it’s another to hear a completely different question. And to not agree with the PMO on Khadr – I fear for her job security.

      • She was only “prepped” for a Khadr talking point, she would have given the same answer if she were asked her shoe size.

    • I agree.  And it may be somewhat noisy at times in the House, but this was Question Period and the question hadn’t been asked yet so hard to see how it was heckling, and it was asked and answered in English so it isn’t like the translation was hard to hear.  So what gives?  The room isn’t so huge that one needs a microphone to be heard from one side to the other unless even the optics of Question Period has become so inconsequential to our MPs that they don’t even bother pretending to pay any attention anymore and all conduct their own conversations throughout.  I mean, Question Period is inconsequential, but they used to pretend since the cameras were rolling.

  3. Should we be concerned about Diane Ablonczy’s health?  I think it’s possible that she’s had a stroke.

    Not answering a question during Question Period is par for the course, of course.  However, answering a question NO ONE ASKED suggests some sort of neurological impairment.

  4. Let us all agree that from now on all International Treaties, etc. can be declared null and void unless signed by Vic Toews.

    That will save so much time and aggravation

    • I don’t like the government’s foot dragging on this at all, but your comment seems confused. 

      What we’re talking about here is a plea deal between an American prosecutor and Omar Khadr.  Canada wasn’t asked about the plea agreement before it was offered.  Canada was not asked to sign off on the plea agreement.  Canada had no involvement in the plea agreement between Omar Khadr and the Americans WHATSOEVER.

      I personally think that if the Americans want Khadr to finish his sentence in Canada, and (presumably) Khadr wants to finish his sentence in Canada, then the government should allow him to be repatriated to finish his sentence in Canada.  However, you seem to be suggesting that the Americans can unilaterally make a deal with a defendant that somehow binds the hands of the Canadian government, without even TALKING to the Canadian government about first, which is patently absurd.  It’s tantamount to saying that Vic Toews must allow Omar Khadr to be moved to a Canadian prison because the Americans say so.  What’s more, the Americans aren’t even saying that.  The Americans promised Khadr that after one year of his sentence he’d be ELIGIBLE to be transferred to a Canadian prison.  They never said that he WOULD be transferred to a Canadian prison, and how could they have without clearing it with the government of Canada?

      • My post was an (obviously failed) attempt at sarcasm.

        This whole case stinks to high heaven.

        A unit of Elite U.S. Special Forces soldiers in Afghanistan are shot at from a “compound”.

        The Team Leader tells the Radio Specialist to call in an airstrike.

        Air strike takes place – Compound blown to “smittereens”.

        U.S. Special Forces soldiers approach Compound and … take fire …

        Bullets … grenades, fly off … from both sides …

        U.S. soldier is hit …

        Sgt Christopher Speer (Medic Specialist) administers First Aid (while bullets and grenades are going off from both directions) … and is himself hit by a grenade … and dies.

        U.S. soldiers enter Compound, find an enemy combattant still alive on the ground … and shoot him.

        Another “enemy combattant” (Omar Khadr) is seen, crouching in a corner, facing the wall, his back to the U.S. Special Forces, and is shot twice (double-tap) in the back …

        QUESTION: Is it possible that Sgt Speer was killed by an American grenade, yet another victim of “friendly fire”?

        I’m off for now and won’t be able to respond until maybe much later on.

  5. There was a time when Canada would have refused to take Khadr, not because of some “deal”with the US govt but simply because justice has been so obviously not done in this case; indeed it is a travesty of justice and we should have nothing to do with it. What has happened to that Canada?

    • I take it that you mean you wish the Americans had gone ahead with the prosecution?  I think in that case that you’re overestimating both the strength of the prosecution’s case, and also the likelihood that even if convicted he would have gotten much more than he got.  His pleas includes an eight year sentence ON TOP OF the eight years he spent in Gitmo waiting for trial.  Even if he’d been convicted of murder, when was the last time a fifteen year old got 16 years in jail for murder, even in the U.S.?  And think about what he’s accused of.  Tossing a grenade at oncoming soldiers after the room he was in was destroyed by an air strike and everyone else in the room with him had been shot to death.  I think I might have tossed a grenade at the guys coming through the wall if I were a fifteen year old in that circumstance.

      Plus, in the ACTUAL justice system, no one would have spent 8 years in jail awaiting trial.  This case would have been tossed out of court YEARS ago in that circumstance in the real world.  Not everyone might consider this “justice”, but considering the accusations, the fact that the accused was fifteen at the time of the crime, and the circumstances of the case and the prosecution, I’d imagine that a plea deal for sixteen years in prison had prosecutors jumping for joy.

      • I’m a little confused by your reply – have i mistakenly given you the impression that i thiink he got off lightly? Not at all. My main point was that this was a poitically drived verdict, and bears no resemblance to justice as you and i might understand it. Khadr was quite simply offered a choice: enter a guilty plea and have some hope of eventually rejoining the outside world and making a life for himself, or exercise his privilege of pleading not guilty and run the considerable risk of being convicted anyway, recieving one of those uniquely American sentences that stretch into the afterlife. This used to be known as Hobson’s choice; it has nothing, nothing, to do with the administration of justice.Fort those who’ve mistakenly hoped Obama was going to just wave his wand and make the world all better have learned the limits of a liberal American president. Given the realpolitik that underlies questions of patriotism and the mythology surrounding anything to do with American exceptionalism it could be argued that this is the best Obama could do; it’s all the justice he could squeeze out of the system given the polarized state of US politics.  That Canada has played along with this farce is to our shame. Shame on us and shame on our PM.

        • Yeah, perhaps I misinterpreted what you were saying, but when I read:

          “There was a time when Canada would have refused to take Khadr, not
          because of some “deal” with the US govt but simply because justice has
          been so obviously not done in this case
          ” (emphasis added)

          I took you to mean that the more “honourable” choice for Canada would be to “refuse to take Khadr” (i.e. to make him finish his time at Gitmo whether he wants to come back to Canada, or the Americans want to send him back to Canada, or not), “simply because justice has been so obviously not done in this case”. 

          The notion that we shouldn’t allow him to be repatriated because “justice hasn’t been done” seemed to suggest to me that in your mind repatriating him to Canada would be to be “too easy” on him.  I agree that Khadr was given a bit of a Hobson’s choice when the plea deal was offered (take the plea deal, because if you don’t we may well keep you locked up indefinitely anyway), but as for Canada’s choice vis a vis going along with the plea agreement and letting him be repatriated, or telling the Americans they can keep him (a Canadian citizen) I think that bringing him back to Canada is the right thing to do at this point.

          • My bad – didn’t express myself at all clearly. I still feel that our govt has nothing to be proud of in this case. Clearly it allowed it’s idealogical pov to overrun its responsibilities and obligations to a Canadian citizen. They don’t have to like Khadr and i understand why not, but nonetheless they can’t pick and choose who they’re going to to go to bat for. There was more then a passing indication the US military justice system was out to nail Khadr evidence be damned. I submit a good half of Harper’s cabinet hoped they did.To the degree we played along with this[ which is well within the craven historical norms for Canada] we should be ashamed. If Khadr had opted the other route and lost out, as he was almost certainly going to do, what would we have done?What if the sentence have been death? Envoked Harper’s law. Let him suffer his fate because we all know the US is a democracy and never erroneously executes anyone, right? This is the folly of not respecting the rule of law for any govt – you wind up with ludicrously inconsistent cases such as Khadrs. 

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