Dewar v. Cannon


Kady referenced this yesterday in her report from the Foreign Affairs committee yesterday, but here is the full exchange between Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and the NDP’s Paul Dewar on what this government has or has not considered in regards to Omar Khadr.

There is also an exchange between Cannon and the Bloc’s Paul Crete on Khadr, but I’m going to wait for a full English translation before posting.

Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP): Thank you, Chair and I want to thank the Minister and our guests for being here today, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Hirst. I want to start off and I too will go to a number of different files. As you can appreciate, there’s a lot to talk about. I’ll perhaps pick up where one of my colleagues left off with regard to Mr. Khadr.

We know that at some point our government has to do something and to date we’ve had our government simply say well, you know. We know the line, my friend, the parliamentary secretary’s read the line well, but I think at some point Canadians want to know when the time comes, because it’s coming, Minister, where you’re going to have to do something other than say we’re waiting for the exercise to finish in the United States. I want to start off with asking have your officials or any department officials explored the options for repatriating Mr. Khadr?

Hon. Lawrence Cannon: No.

Mr. Paul Dewar: So you haven’t. So you expect no money, for instance, from legal fees to examine the case?

Hon. Lawrence Cannon: Do you want to be a little more specific?

Mr. Paul Dewar: Have you spent any money on the legal case of Mr. Khadr? Have you had anyone look at it?

Hon. Lawrence Cannon: No.

Mr. Paul Dewar: So no one’s looked at the case. No one’s given you a legal opinion on it. Maybe Mr. Edwards could help us here. So no one’s looked at the legal case of….I can’t put it any plainer, has anyone in the department looked at the legal case of Mr. Khadr, yes or no?

Hon. Lawrence Cannon: Well, let’s be specific here. If you’re saying we looked at the legal case to determine what or to have a general idea of what the American policy is, yes, we looked at the American policy. Yes, we are cognizant of the fact that the trial of all cases in front of the military commission has been halted at Guantanamo since January 20 of this year.

We’re aware, of course, that the U.S. administration has ordered the closure of Guantanamo Bay. So if you’re asking me if we looked at that, yes, we have.

Mr. Paul Dewar: But beyond that, nothing in terms of what might happen or scenarios about the future? Interesting. I say interesting, because I think that would be something I would do is to say okay, what happens if, but that’s just me.

When I look at this, we have a case where we have the Americans very clearly sending a message to us, we’re closing the shop….We have actually legal representation in the room who has suggested that Mr. Kuebler ….Well, let me try this one with you, Minister.

We often talk about Canada believes in the rule of law, right? We export that principle, that value. In your opinion, officials, when we talk about the rule of law, would you suggest that’s having fair representation?

Hon. Lawrence Cannon: If we’re going to discuss the issue of Guantanamo, that’s a complete–

Mr. Paul Dewar: Well, actually, I’m trying about a case of the rule of law–

The Chair: Keep this back and forth through the Chair, please.

Mr. Paul Dewar: Through you, Chair, to the–

Hon. Lawrence Cannon: Okay, through the Chair.

Chair, what we won’t speculate on is hypothetical scenarios. Yes, Canada does promote the rule of law and I think that with like-minded countries we do that. But again, Mr. Dewar, I have to point out that there is a process that is in place. We’re following that process. We’re following it with interest and once the outcome has been determined, we will develop a position and we will make that position known.


Dewar v. Cannon

  1. Actually, that sounds about right for Foreign Affairs, at least what can be discussed publicly. I really hope that RCMP – CSIS – Dept of Justice have done far more what-ifs than Foreign Affairs. But I shall not confuse optimism with confidence on that one.

  2. “Yes, Canada does promote the rule of law and I think that with like-minded countries we do that.”
    No comment necessary. That stands on its own as a beacon, a clarion call, a shining knight on a white horse, a… oh, never mind.

  3. I would think the biggest “what if” that our Tory government would be concerned about (not by any means the most likely, in fact I consider it pretty unlikely, but the most trouibling “what if” for our government, imho) is “What if the Americans decide to simply drop the charges and set Khadr free”?

    As I said, I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s certainly not impossible. It wouldn’t completely shock me to discover that the Obama administration’s review of the case determined that there was little likelihood of ever convicting Khadr of anything (even under a military commission in place of a traditional court) and that besides that, even if they convicted him of murder, there’s little likelihood he’d be asked to serve more than the 6+ years he’s already been locked up (Khadr being 15 at the time of his alleged crimes) and so there’s no point in going forward with a process that likely wouldn’t ever convict him of anything, and likely would set him free even if it convicted him.

    Now, the Americans have asserted their right to unilaterally keep the prisoners held at Gitmo locked up, EVEN IF THEY’RE FOUND NOT GUILTY, so they American inability to convict Khadr may not end up meaning much. However, I also can’t dismiss the possibility that the Americans decide that keeping someone like Khadr locked up indefinitely without trial, ostensibly because you know you couldn’t convict him if he had a trial, does worse damage to the U.S. than setting him free would.

    In this “What if”, it seems to me that having done nothing up to this point, there would be quite literally nothing our government could do. Are they going to try him for a crime against an American that the Americans can’t try him for? Are they going to do ANYTHING to lock him up if the Americans set him free? Could they even try?

    I don’t know if this is a good scenario or a bad one for the Tories. On the one hand, if the Americans decide to wipe their hands of Khadr how can even the most serious hawk want to try to incarcerate him after the AMERICANS decide it’s not worth it? In this sense, the Tories can just say “Well geeze, the Americans decided to let him go, so who are we to argue? Then again, it also somewhat boosters the case that the Americans shouldn’t have kept someone they had no chance of convicting locked up for 6 and a half years, and that our government should have done something to get Khadr out of the sham he’s been going through since the age of 15.

    It seems to me the worst case scenario for the Tories isn’t “the Americans ask us to take Khadr back and try him ourselves” it’s “the Americans decide they can’t ever convict him, and so they just let him go”. If anything, I’d think the Tories would be interested in that second scenario, in order to try to keep it from happening. Ironically, for a government that’s done nothing to free Khadr, the worst thing for them at this point would likely be the Americans deciding to free him themselves.

  4. I am from vancouver,canada and i wanted to say that foreign affairs minster Lawrence Cannon is not interested in getting Omar Khadr back to canada.If he was he would be back in canada by now.To me its a case of racial profiling by the canadian gov.Stephen Harper said he wasn’t going to mention it to president Obama when he comes to canada.It shows what a reactionary gov. we got here in canada.If the canadian gov.can’t help its own citizens they are incabable of helping people in other countries.

    Stan Squires

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