Meanwhile, back in Canada -

Meanwhile, back in Canada


A couple days after the Prime Minister stated in an interview with Global that Omar Khadr was not a child soldier, the following question was emailed to Mr. Harper’s office.

“For the sake of clarity, specifically on what statement, aspect or precedent of international law is the Prime Minister basing his judgment that Omar Khadr was not a child soldier?”

Two weeks later, after some further prodding, the Prime Minister’s spokesman sent along a response this afternoon, reprinted as follows, in its entirety.

“I have no comment.”

The same question has been left with the press secretaries for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. Should a response be received from either office, it will be promptly posted here in full.


Meanwhile, back in Canada


  2. Sometimes openness and accountability take time.

  3. Translation: We don’t care about international law and its definitions – just ours.

  4. “I have no comment.”

    At least that’s better than the lecture you’d get from jwl or jarrid on how your question proves you’re nothing more than a tool of the Liberal Party.

    • Brevity is the soul of wit.

    • You forgot John G, who did just that a few posts down.

  5. Remember when Prime Ministers used to have to take these questions themselves? In scrums? Or, in the case of Mulroney, the stairs? ‘member? ‘member that?

    Those were good times.

  6. More likely translation: You’re not a balanced journalist, you only spew anti-Conservative bile on your blog, so we’re not going to give you any help in your crusade to bring us down.

    • That was a pretty straight-forward question, john There was no bias involved it was just a question asking where Mr. Harper got his international precedent from to make the opinion Khadr wasn’t a child soldier.

      Apparently, they couldn’t FIND a precedent in 2 weeks of frantic research.. so this was their answer.

      I’d like to hear the opposition parties ask Harper the exact same question in Parliament, over and over.

      • The question itself was fine. My guess is the concern is the source of the question. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes of reading Aaron’s blog to know where he stands.

        • So what if Aaron Wherry does have a stand on this issue? That justifies the PM making stuff up?

          • I have no comment on the acceptability of this answer. I’m only advancing my own hypothesis for why Aaron is not getting the time of day from the Conservatives.

          • I’m wondering if the PMO has provided substantive responses to Wherry’s emails in the past. Perhaps “No comment” is a standard reply to any of Wherry’s queries (hey, that rhymes!).

            If so, it would be rather disingenuous for Wherry to suggest that PMO’s response on this issue is significant.

          • Bravo! You went John G. one better and suggested that not only is Wherry not worthy of an answer, but that he’s also dishonest.

          • Ti-Guy, I made no such suggestions. Wherry seems like an honest guy, which is why I phrased my question as a conditional hypothetical.

            Though I would prefer to live in a country where the PMO provides meaningful responses to the hundreds of emails they receive daily, this is probably not a realistic scenario. We need some context (i.e. information about the PMO’s responses to other emails sent by Wherry) to determine whether the PMO’s non-answer is significant, or just a standard response.

            For the record, I think that Wherry’s question is a good one and deserves an answer. Until that happens, there is only so much we can read into a two-word email written by a secretary in Ottawa.

          • Wherry seems like an honest guy, which is why I phrased my question as a conditional hypothetical.

            One wonders about the intent of such conditional hypotheticals. If they are intended overtly to furnish an unexamined speculation that is useful for discussion purposes while covertly constituting a passive-aggressive attack, then one is left to suspect the motives…

            …forget it. I’m boring myself.

        • That was a good one, John! Encore, encore! Tell me what I really mean when I say, “Subtext is everything. The PM and his staff are very subtle people.”

        • JG
          The source of the question was presumably a concerned Canadian citizen, yo know the ones who get to vote in Canadian elections. Or do you think khadrs pesky interferring defence team did it? Scandalous!

          • kc, I’m under the impression that the source for the question was one Aaron Wherry.

            Sorry cwe, your comment flew over my head.

            Assuming Aaron posed the question, my point is only that it’s not hard to discern that Aaron is not a big fan of the current government; not just on the Khadr file but on pretty much everything. I don’t think that’s a particularly controversial statement.

            As such, it’s perhaps not entirely surprising that the Conservative communication machine is somewhat suspicious of his motives and isn’t particularly interested in being helpful to him.

          • John gotta admire yr flexibility here. The last one was almost a tuck and double pike entry. Full marks for effort.
            If it was just Aaron then silence was probably best. No comment! I preferred W’s, “so what”!

        • I have no comment on the acceptability of this answer.

          Which only goes to show you have no sense of what’s important. Instead of focusing on the Prime Minister of Canada’s evasive response to a challenge to a fabrication, you choose to launch a personal attack on Aaron Wherry for simply doing his job. And we don’t even know if Wherry sent the emailed the question himself.

        • I didn’t know you had to agree with the PM’s politics to get an awnser from him on an important question. I guess that means we are only allowed to send CTV to ask him questions???? Tres partisan, don’t you think?

      • I’d like to hear the opposition parties ask Harper the exact same question in Parliament, over and over.

        That would describe every Question Period I’ve ever seen.

    • I await the outpouring of disdain expressed by Gloria Galloway and others in the midst of an election campaign. I’m sick and tired of the MSM giving these jokers a pass in the name of “balanced journalism.”

      I know the other john will disagree with my viewpoint, but he really can’t see clearly — his head is too far up his a**.

  7. For those of you arguing that Aaron Wherry isn’t exactly non-partisan (and I agree), does that make him wrong in this instance? Does it make the Conservative stance on Khadr any less ludicrous?

    I’d strongly suggest the answer to both questions is no. I’d also suggest that the lack of an answer from the PMO has more to do with the fact that it’s quite nearly impossible to make a coherent defense of Harper’s opinion in this instance.

    • I’ve made numerous coherent arguments against repatriating Khadr. And yes, Wherry is wrong on this one, no matter how strongly you suggest it.

      In fact, I cannot for the life of me understand how there can be a coherent argument to repatriating him. He was fighting in a war. He was not on Canadian soil. He was fighting Americans. How on earth you could come to the conclusion he should be brought to Canada? Just because he has a Canadian passport? This boggles my mind.

      There are thousands of Canadians in jails all over the world. They do not get a Canadian trial, even if we ask nicely. If you commit a crime in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. If you get involved in a foreign war, you are subject to the possibility of being captured.

      • You’ve always asserted that the issue of a crime having been committed has been determined. On what basis can you make that assertion? Please answer this fundamental question.

      • “If you commit a crime in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.”

        I’m glad you’re feeling coherent, sf. Just a couple of questions. First, if he was fighting in a war, what crime are you alleging that he committed while engaged in activities quite common to wars?
        Second, if the crime of which he is accused was committed in Afghanistan, how is it that he found himself subject to U.S laws?
        Feel free to answer ‘no comment’ if you wish.

        • Well, when I say crime, I mean that you have been detained for one reason or another. Typically, in order to be detained somewhere, you would have to break a law of some kind. If you have not broken a law of any kind, then I agree that the Canadian government should intervene.

          In Khadr’s case, he was clearly involved in a battle with the Americans. Hence, he was detained, after have been nearly killed in battle, and treated by American medics. If he were released in Afghanistan he would have continued to fight.

          He should either be subject to Afghan law or US law, since of course he was fighting Americans. It is up to the Americans to decide if Afghan law is appropriate.

          • Okay. I know we’ve done this dance a couple of times before. I suspect that our differences are irreconcilable, but…
            You said, “If you commit a crime in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.” I asked, “What crime was that?” You answered that by ‘crime’, you meant ‘detained for some reason,’ which is ‘typically’, the way someone comes to be detained. Is Afghanistan ‘typical’? I understand that some people were detained without having committed crimes; they were ratted out by somebody with a grudge, or who were seeking to collect a bounty. Regardless, being detained and having committed a crime are not equivalent. Your claim to coherency is coming apart.
            You said, “If you commit a crime in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.” I asked how it came to be, then, that Khadr found himself subject to American laws. You backtracked and equivocated. That’s too bad. I sort of expected coherent arguments to hold together a little bit better. I also couldn’t help but notice in your comments to others that you switch back and forth between a description of him as a soldier and a description of him as a ‘young terrorist,’ as suits your purpose. tsk. On the bright side, you’re in here, giving an honest try at communication, which is more than I can say for kody or Jarrid. Thanks for that.

          • Well, I think he is both a soldier and a terrorist. It is possible to be both. How’s that for coherency?

            I prefer calling him a terrorist.

            As far as the “crime” comment, it is simply an analogous statement: if you commit a crime in a foreign country, or you enter into warfare in a foreign country, or you choose to reap death and destruction in a foreign country, or you choose to run a prostitution ring in a foreign country, or if you do anything that causes deliberate harm to other people in a foreign country…. make your pick! If you cause harm in a foreign country, then you should be prepared to suffer the consequences. So what if being detained and committing a crime are not equivalent. What’s your point?

            If I say driving a Ford is like driving a Chevy, I don’t need you to tell me that a Ford is not a Chevy. Make the leap of intellectual discovery: A Ford and Chevy are both motor vehicles! How’s that for coherency!

            I have not backtracked nor equivocated, you are simply nitpicking the meaning of words. My comments are not legal documents like the Geneva conventions.

            What is so difficult to understand? Should I hire a lawyer to draft my next comment for you?

      • The argument isn’t “should Khadr be tried in Canada or not”, the argument is “does Khadr qualify as a child soldier or not”. The Prime Minister’s assertion is that Khadr wasn’t a child soldier, because he wasn’t part of an army. In your own argument, you say he was fighting a war, thus identifying him as a soldier. Since he was 15 years old at the time, he was a child. Child+soldier=child soldier, yes?

        • Firstly, I would never characterize a 15 year old as a child. I would characterize such a person as an adolescent. Sure, I would say he was a soldier, but not a soldier recruited by a military force.

          Regardless, even if I agree that it is reasonable to call him a child soldier, that is irrelevant. The Geneva convention states explicitly what is considered a “child” “soldier” for the purposes of that legal document. He would have to be someone under 15 that has been recruited by a military force. So it is perfectly valid for the US to say that the Geneva conventions do not apply in that manner, because they do not. Period. You do not get to define, according to your own whims, what is said by the Geneva conventions.

          If I were to choose my own words, I would never characterize him as a child soldier. I would characterize him as a young terrorist. Or an adolescent killer.

      • I don’t think location and passport have much to do with it – otherwise you are kissing off those who fought with the French when the Germans came marching in, or those who ventured to Spain to fight for the republic. It seems to me that Afghanistan did not invade America, and that there was no official declaration of war that demanded the surrendering of all non-citizen soldiers.
        It’s true that Canadians who take risks and break laws outside of our borders do so knowing that they will/may face that country’s justice system; but it’s also true that Canada is a signator on the Geneva Convention and the statute on child soldiers. So if it is the upkeeping of laws we stand behind, at the least we should have a gov’t that shows consistency, not indiscriminant imbecility.

        • Well, Afghanistan did invade America: the Taliban (the government of Afghanistan) harbored Al Qaeda, just like any other country harbors a militia, and Al Qaeda DID invade America.

          The Geneva convention explicitly defines what is a child soldier for the purposes of the agreement, just like any othe legal document is explicit. The Geneva convention states that children under the age of 15 shall not be recruited by a state, and children under the age of 15 shall not be allowed to take part in hostilities.

          The latter part does not apply, since the Taliban had no qualms with Khadr joining their ranks. The former does not apply, because Khadr was not recruited by the Taliban, he volunteered his services to the Taliban, having travelled from far away to do so.

          So the Geneva conventions do not apply. Simple as that.

          • And just how do you know he volunteered?

            -Please specify where you got these sources of valuable information.

          • There are lots of sources that provide many details about the history of the Khadrs’ travels to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and their activities there-in. Go ahead, take a look.

          • I really do appreciate how hard you try, sf.

          • What, are you too lazy to find out the background before you start spouting opinions?

        • And, as a matter of fact, those that fought with the French against the Germans, and those that fought against the Spanish, they were not protected by the Geneva conventions, even if we wish they had been. We know the Germans killed and tortured civilians. We know that Spanish prisoners of war were also not granted the priveleges of the Geneva conventions. And we also know that Canadians who chose to fight in the Spanish civil war were not granted any special protections from the Canadian government because Canada was not a party in that war.

          • So basically we should look for every possible way that we can weasel out of the Geneva conventions, eh? Great idea.

          • No. Nice straw man.

        • Also – We know that the Geneva conventions did not apply to those fighting with the French against the Germans – the Germans killed and tortured civilians and committed mass genocide. In the Spanish civil war, the Geneva conventions were also ignored.

          • Ignore this last comment, it is a duplicate of the previous, which I thought had not been posted due to server error.

  8. There’s Conservative and then there’s partisan. Those are the only choices.

  9. Everyone knows Harper pulls things out of his a**se from time to time. To expect his spokesman to clarify it is somewhat odd. Harper went from a “no-deficit-ever” to a 86B deficit.

    Give him time, Mr. Wherry. In a few weeks, Khadr will be classified as an infant-soldier.