His pledge to reassess was quickly reassessed


Peter MacKay, commenting today on the latest developments in regards to Omar Khadr. “Clearly Canada, Mr. Khadr’s counsel and everyone involved in these cases will be reassessing their positions.”

The Prime Minister’s office, commenting shortly thereafter on same. “There’s no change in our position.”

(Discussing this in the bureau, Paul argues, quite plausibly, that it’s possible to reconcile these two statements.)


His pledge to reassess was quickly reassessed

  1. Expect the PMO’s reassessment to be re-reassessed once the White House reassesses the situation.

  2. I don’t get it. Harper has been swimming against the tide on this for a while now, but at least it could be understood as a means to curry favour with the Cheney administration.

    But now? One of Obama’s first acts was to suspend the administration of “justice” at Guantanamo for 120 days. That’s a crystal-clear signal that Guantanamo will not continue business as usual. What does Harper have to gain by sticking to his guns? He certainly has something to lose if he’s seen as clinging to disgraced policies and as sympathy continues to grow for Khadr.

    Is this more of the ongoing ‘never admit you’re wrong’ strategy? Pure pigheadedness? Or is it an ideological belief that a Canadian 15-year-old child soldier should be tortured by a foreign government in support of the War on Terra?

    • TJ: “Harper has been swimming against the tide on this for a while now.” — What tide? What sympathy for Khadar? It has been pointed out that Khadar’s situation is a bit different from at least some of the other detainees, to the extent that he has been charged with murder. He admitted to killing a paramedic after fighting had stopped. I have never understood the recent media (and opposition) noise about this, since a trial one way or the other would be needed to resolve the situation. He has never been denied a trial, but there have been many delays at least some because of challenges from his own defense team. At no point (when a trial process was clearly underway in the U.S.) did it make sense to bring him back to Canada and start the process from square one. (Maybe some posters just think he should be let go without any consequences??)

      Now it again strikes me as ludicrous to have the Canadian government suddenly change it’s position when it is yet unclear what exactly will transpire with the new administration. Obama is quite likely good news for Khadar. Once he is exonerated (or whatever happens there), there should be not problem bringing him back. Should we circumvent this process and still have to put him on trial in some way in Canada? Or should we wait for charges to be lifted? Even if he were convicted of something, there would be a clear process that we might follow, but to bring him back with this cloud over his head just creates either more legal entanglements or turns justice into a travesty. Even fifteen year-olds stand trail for murder (and some face adult court).

  3. My theory: the government is trying to come up with a graceful way to extricate itself from its current position without making it look like they had no contingency plan in place to deal with a repatriated Omar Khadr. They’re probably soliciting legal advice on what charges, if any, could be laid against him under Canadian law, and how the process of transferring him to federal custody would work.

    • “They’re probably soliciting legal advice on what charges, if any, could be laid against him under Canadian law…”

      That makes sense. Although, let’s not forget that these are serious offenses. I hope the Canadian legal system can handle it! :)

      • “I hope the Canadian legal system can handle it!”


        I don’t see why we should expect that it can. Clearly the Americans never put him in front of the traditional AMERICAN legal system because they knew they couldn’t convict him of anything there. It became increasingly clear that even under the relaxed rules of the military commissions the Americans probably couldn’t have convicted Khadr of anything. Rest assured that if the Americans (including Obama) thought they could legitimately convict Omar Khadr of some sort of crime, they’d do it. I’m not so sure our system could be blamed for failing to do something the Americans have been unable to do for the past 8 years. They never even got around to starting his trial for Pete’s sake (it was scheduled to start Monday).

        The Americans set up an offshore prison and an entirely separate legal system (biased in favour of the prosecution most would argue) in order to try to deal with the people they captured and moved to Cuba. Grand total of convictions? Zero. Number of “trials” they managed to even start? Zero.

        What on Earth would we have to do to make some sort of charges stick if the Americans couldn’t after all of that???

    • On whether there is a contingency plan: “We’re not moving down multiple tracks.”

    • File that plan under ‘reasonable steps which would take little effort and could have been done at any time in the past two years or so’

    • I would say that SH has suggested to Mckay that it would be a good idea if he pracitise his, Houdini handcuffed, while simultaneously kicking himself in the backside act right about now. Don’t know if that would constitute a graceful extrication, but other than Obama’s goodwill, i don;t see what else they got. All else failing Mr Mckay might have a little spare room in his basement for Omar.

  4. I don’t think MacKay was really thinking much when he said this because I seriously doubt that Khadr’s lawyers are reassessing their position either.

    • “I don’t think MacKay was really thinking much when he said this”

      A good summary Peter MacKay

  5. With the current ecomonic meltdown, millions out of work or about to be and much worse to come don’t count on many people giving a tinker’s damn about any of that family. Throw hand grenades at soldiers and sometimes bad things happen. The people who hate the “evil Harper” will still hate the “evil Harper” and the rest of us won’t give a SFA. Cheers.

    • Wayen,
      Khadr is almost certainly innocent of this charge, and every piece of evidence submitted has been effectively trashed (including the latest ID of Arar, who was unfortunately for the prosecution in Canada under the watchful eye of the RCMP at that time).

      Over 90% of the detainees of Gitmo have been released without any charge of any kind. It is not that there are not terrorists out there – it is just that they managed to sweep up a whole lot of innocents and have failed miserably to process them accordingly.

      This is a massive embarrassment and it is just pigheadedness to keep sticking to this same old story that Khadr is guilty of anything but being the son of fanatic jihadist.

      • Bill: “every piece of evidence submitted has been effectively trashed ” — including Khadar’s confession? I think not. There is strong evidence that Khadar killed the paramedic after fighting had ceased. There are, of course, mitigating circumstances, but that’s what trials are for — to weigh evidence, get at the truth, and ensure that justice is served (not that they always do, but that’s the plan). The intention to bring Khadar to trial was a legitimate avenue for pursuing justice.

    • That’s one way to look at it, and I’m sure it would get a particular response if you asked a polling question in that manner.

      On the other hand, if you asked people how they felt about a (at the time) 15-year-old Canadian child soldier being held in legal limbo and tortured by a foreign government, you might find that even in tough economic times Canadians do think it’s a bad thing.

      • TJ – And on the other hand, you might not find as much opposition as you’d want to believe. I wonder why the Liberals didn’t make this a major campaign issue. It couldn’t be because it’s political suicide, could it?

        • If I understand correctly, you’re arguing that it’s political suicide to bring home a Canadian from Guantanamo. Correct?

          I don’t see the “suicide” angle. Heck, it looks like a political winner to me, especially given all the stories of Canadians held abroad under dodgy circumstances – there seems to have been popular support for Mehr Arar, Brenda Martin, etc.

          If I were Ignatieff, I’d loudly proclaim that a Liberal Government would jealously protect its citizens abroad whose human rights were being violated. It would provide a strong contrast to Harper’s do-nothing approach and I think it would resonate with Canadians. I’ve long wondered why Harper didn’t occupy this piece of political turf.

          • I don’t think there was a lot of public support for Brenda Martin . . . there was a lot of media noise and opposition posturing (even a visit from that compassionate soul Paul Martin) . . . which is also what is behind the whole push to “bring home Khadar”. I also think you are on pretty shaky grounds to suggest that Khadar’s “human rights” are being violated when he has been charged with a murder and is awaiting trail.

  6. If anyone is honestly surprised here they are not paying attention more than likely all of this will be dealt with when Stevie and Obie get down to some wrangling when they meet in awhile – no doubt!

    • Wayne, it is STILL unethical to use a Canadian citizen, held without trial in a foreign country, as a bargaining chip for political gain.

  7. I still dont see the harm in saying they are reassessing the situation. Its what any reasonable government should do. However immediately having someone from the PMO come out and say there is no change to their position seems a little pigheaded.

  8. It’s all in the tense. Position “hasn’t” changed does not mean that a reassessment will not change it in the future.

    Of course, this could be Harper playing to his base, and Peter MacKay playing to what he hopes will be (or is) his base.

  9. Can you tell which message is coming from a former Progressive Conservative and which message is a former Reformer?

    • Yes. Clear as day, isn’t it.

    • Ted — I don’t quite get your question. If you intended to reference all posters siding with the government on this issue I will confess that in my case, the comments are coming from a former Liberal.

      • Rose:

        The point is that McKay, a former Progressive Conservative, when faced with a new set of facts takes the view that perhaps a new review of the government’s position is in order. He’s conservative but he is open-minded: a change in policy may be desired due to changed circumstances and facts because the policy in his mind was based upon a practical assessment of the given facts at a given time.

        The PMO, on the other hand, led by a former Reformer, when faced with a new set of facts insists upon an ideologically rigid response that no reassessment is necessary. Change is not necessary despite changed circumstances and facts because the policy was based upon an ideological assessment.

  10. Harper is clinging to Guantanamo and it looks worse on him – and us – every day it continues. Torture is out, due process is in.

    • “Torture is out, due process is in”.


      “No torture” is the new “Torture”.