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The many implications of Omar Khadr


 

Tonda MacCharles tries to read Stephen Harper’s mind.

Even some Conservatives privately admit they have been taken aback by Harper’s utter indifference to pleas about Khadr’s plight. There’s no clear explanation for it. Is it good foreign policy? Good politics? Or simple ideological stubborness?

There are hints, but no explicit statements, that the Americans still want to prosecute Khadr. The government denies any knowledge of the Obama administration’s plans for the only Westerner left in Guantanamo….

The Khadrs carry political baggage here. Harper may simply want to avoid getting stung the way former prime minister Jean Chretien was. Chretien in 1996 asked Pakistani authorities to release Ahmed Said Khadr, Omar’s father, who later turned out key to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda fundraising efforts in Afghanistan. Photos of him at the hospitalized Khadr’s bedside loom large still.

It could be that Harper, having given up so much conservative political ground on fiscal and social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, does not want to risk further angering his base of supporters by appearing to be anything less than “tough on terror.”


 

The many implications of Omar Khadr

  1. I am torn between calling the MacCharles analysis a thoughtful commentary or statements of the obvious. (I guess they are not exclusive). Harper risks virtually nothing politically in the short term with his approach. In keeping with many of his political manuvers it simply alienates further the majority of Canadian who do not like his style (please don't quote the numbers that approve of the direction of the country) but does nothing to hurt his prospects among those that are already inclined to vote for him. Moreover in the process it helps his opportunities to fundraise among two distinct fringe groups, the racist right and the true libertarians.

  2. There are hints, but no explicit statements, that the Americans still want to prosecute Khadr.

    Perhaps, but I'd say there are also "hints, but no explicit statements" that the Americans would have him on a plane before our Ambassador could finish the sentence asking for his repatriation. Much better to return him to his country of citizenship at the request of an ally (as they've done with EVERY SINGLE OTHER WESTERN PRISONER that was held at Gitmo) then to either fail to convict him, or convict him and end up having him sentenced to time served (both entirely plausible, imho likely, outcomes now).

    I've said it before, I'm convinced the Bush administration would have sent him packing long ago if only we'd asked. I see no reason to believe the Obama administration would act any differently. Sure, they seem intent on still prosecuting him, as long as they have no other options. Give them a door B and they'd rush through it, imho.

    • Exactly. US would be grateful to get Khadr out of their hair. They want to be seen as prosecuting terrorists, but are actively recruiting other countries to solve the practical problem of what to do with a large number of detainees for whom a conviction is at best unlikely, but who can't be returned to their country of origin.

      AG Eric Holder was talking openly about releasing some in the U.S. as of last Spring, and seems to have recently convinced the Island of Palau to resettle 17 ethnic Uighurs, who were swept up in Pakistan by bounty hunters but who have no enmity toward the U.S. and can't be returned to China which considers them terrorists. The US has pledged a big chunk of aid to Palau according to Al Jazeerha English. See http://tinyurl.com/mz6hln

  3. There is a far simpler explaination. Omar Khadr was part of an odious ideology, fought for a foreign power (or foreign forces) against Canadian allies. These are things that Harper finds personally odious, and being a mule on these things means he wont bring Khadr home until he absolutely has to, ie the Supreme Court orders him home.

    It isnt political in the sense that he does it because it gains him some advantage, that is a result of core belief.

    Add into this that the offences against Khadr, as enumerated by the federal court, took place under a previous government, and Harper feels no compunction to bring him home. Remember the Federal court is saying that the actions of Canadian officials violated his rights, not that he is a child soldier (he isnt and thank goodness that seems to have stopped) or that the Americans werent nice to him.

    We will see if the Supreme Court agrees with the federal court. Then and only then will Harper make the request. If this is an example to others, so be it.

    It isnt political, not like when Chretien brought Omar's dad back to Canada but let Bill Samson rot in a Saudi prison. That was political.

    • This comment was deleted.

      • Ahh so every decision by a lower court should be acceeded to?

        If the Supreme Court says that Omar's rights were violated and the appropriate remedy is to bring him home then fine. The federal government can make its case that officials back in 2003/04 didnt violate his rights. Isnt this what courts are for?

        How in the world is it bizarre or a nuerosis? Bizarre that someone fighting or actively supporting an enemy would be imprisoned and that the government is less than eager to see them brought home…..completely understandab;e…Chretien and his Dad was bizarre.

        Vindictive, I will grant you points on that one in the sense that someone receiving punishment for transgression is always vindictive..that he hasnt received a speedy trial, well thats a whole other story tied up with the whole enemy combatants versus POW thing. He should be a POW and stay in camp until his side signs a surrender or peace agreement…..but thats another story.

        • Come on, Stephen, the kid was 15 years old when all this went down. To build castles in the air about rights and prerogatives and transgression and punishment in such a case is a sign of neurosis.

          I was referring to the whole Omar Khadr saga, btw, not to this particular court case (which is rather interesting on its own merits). But one can't pretend that this is merely a question of constitutional law. This is a cause célèbre, one way or another.

          • So what if he was 15, see my comment below that the convictions in the Hague have been for recruting and using Child Soldiers, defined as being under 15, not 15 and under. So according the the statutes used to convict at the International Criminal Court, Omar Khadr was not a child soldier, but the same status as his father, and some argue the US soldiers he was fighting

            As for diagnosing nuerosis, forgive me if I don't pay your bill Dr Mitchell.

            The only basis for the court to rule aginast the government is if the government violated the rights of a citizen….that is the proper way for that ruling to go….not he is a sympathetic character or a cause celebre. Constutional rights arent castles in the air. If the SC wants to spank the government for dragging it out fine, assuming they agree.

            That it is also a cause celebre also means that the government may not choose to agree with it, once again this is why the government isnt forced to act until it the Supreme Court makes a final ruling. You may not like it, but it to say that following a court process is nuerotic or bizarre doesnt follow.

          • My comment re: neurosis was not intended to describe the court process, which is perfectly normal (and, IMHO, a very good idea: I'm skeptical about the courts guiding foreign policy, to say the least); it had to do with the perverse focus on Omar Khadr's status, age, etc., by those who oppose bringing him home. The plain fact of the matter is that this was a teenager caught up in a world he did not understand who was just obeying his father, as a good son should. That is as plain as plain can be and frankly if you don't see it you're a . . . wait for it . . . dweeb. But I do think you see it, are neither a dweeb nor neurotic (like the PM seems to be on this issue, as indeed on anything Bush-related); you've just missed the forest here, which is the appalling human drama of locking up a 15 year old for 8 years in a concentration camp.

          • My comment re: neurosis was not intended to describe the court process, which is perfectly normal (and, IMHO, a very good idea: I'm skeptical about the courts guiding foreign policy, to say the least); it had to do with the perverse focus on Omar Khadr's status, age, etc., by those who oppose bringing him home. The plain fact of the matter is that this was a teenager caught up in a world he did not understand who was just obeying his father, as a good son should. That is as plain as plain can be and frankly if you don't see it you're a . . . wait for it . . . dweeb.

          • The focus on his age is to get rid of this red herring that he is a child soldier and therfore can come home. That he is a simpleton and was braiwashed is a different argument, the latest in a series of whatever sticks to the wall.

            I dont oppose bringing him home, just not for the reasons that people have discussed. If his constitutional rights have been violated, the federal court said canadian officials did, and that the appropriate remedy was to bring him home because those Canadian officials jepordized his ability to receive a fair trial and the Supreme Court agrees then fine bring him home. The court also said that this in no way precludes him from being tried in this country….

            This is a reasonable argument, based in law not emotion. If the SC agrees fine, but because he is an idiot born to a family of crazies is not a reason to absolve him of being on a battlefield.

          • "That he is a simpleton and was brainwashed is a different argument"

            He was extremely young and following his father's commands. If that means being a simpleton and being brainwashed, every good 15-year-old boy is a simpleton and brainwashed.

            I really wonder if you are arguing in good faith, or just have a hate-on for this brown guy. It's one specious argument after another, with a steady drumbeat of willful disinterest in the human element of Khadr's story.

        • Lower court orders do indeed to be followed unless they can get permission to stay the order while the appeal is going on. It's often granted, however.

    • Actually, the child solder thing has not gone away,, Stephen.. its only Conservatives who try to push it under the carpet that Canada is a signatory to the international protocol on child soldiers and their rehabilitation; that Omar Khadr did and does fit into that category, and that we've broken the protocol by ignoring trying to bring him home and rehabilitate him (the US is also a signatory and also guilty of breaking the protocol – bu there never was a human rights protocol Dick Cheney and George Bush saw that they felt they could override in the name of "fighting terror)" . I suspect you'll see the child soldier angle be again talked about more prominently once Khadr is returned home and the question of what to do to rehabilitate and re-integrate him comes back up – either at a trial or not.

      I don't disagree, though with your assertion that this is a core belief of Harper's – he shares the Cheney/Bush Machiavellian view that any and all rights and treaties can be broken in the name of fighting terrorists (or alleged ones).

    • Actually, the child solder thing has not gone away,, Stephen.. its only Conservatives who try to push it under the carpet that Canada is a signatory to the international protocol on child soldiers and their rehabilitation; that Omar Khadr did and does fit into that category, and that we've broken the protocol by ignoring it. not trying to bring him home and rehabilitate him, and turningg a blind eye while his rights were violated both nationally and internationally in Guantanamo's gulag (the US is also a signatory and also guilty of breaking the protocol – bu there never was a human rights protocol Dick Cheney and George Bush saw that they felt they could override in the name of "fighting terror)" .
      I suspect you'll see the child soldier angle be again talked about more prominently once Khadr is returned home and the question of what to do to rehabilitate and re-integrate him comes back up – either at a trial or not.

      I don't disagree, though with your assertion that this is a core belief of Harper's – he shares the Cheney/Bush Machiavellian view that any and all rights and treaties can be broken in the name of fighting terrorists (or alleged ones).

    • Actually, the child solder thing has not gone away,, Stephen.. its only Conservatives who try to push it under the carpet that Canada is a signatory to the international protocol on child soldiers and their rehabilitation; that Omar Khadr did and does fit into that category; that we've broken the protocol by ignoring it in Khadr's case and not trying to bring him home and rehabilitate him; and also by turning a blind eye while his rights were violated both nationally and internationally in Guantanamo's gulag (the US is also a signatory and also guilty of breaking the protocol – bu there never was a human rights protocol Dick Cheney and George Bush saw that they felt they could override in the name of "fighting terror)" .

      I suspect you'll see the child soldier angle be again talked about more prominently once Khadr is returned home and the question of what to do to rehabilitate and re-integrate him comes back up – either at a trial or not.

      I don't disagree, though with your assertion that this is a core belief of Harper's – he shares the Cheney/Bush Machiavellian view that any and all rights and treaties can be broken in the name of fighting terrorists (or alleged ones).

    • Actually, the child solder thing has not gone away,, Stephen.. its only Conservatives who try to push it under the carpet that Canada is a signatory to the international protocol on child soldiers and their rehabilitation; that Omar Khadr did and does fit into that category; that we've broken the protocol by ignoring it in Khadr's case and not trying to bring him home and rehabilitate him; and also by turning a blind eye while his rights were violated both nationally and internationally in Guantanamo's gulag (the US is also a signatory and also guilty of breaking the protocol – but there never was a human rights protocol Dick Cheney and George Bush saw that they felt they could override in the name of "fighting terror)" .

      I suspect you'll see the child soldier angle be again talked about more prominently once Khadr is returned home and the question of what to do to rehabilitate and re-integrate him comes back up – either at a trial or not.

      I don't disagree, though with your assertion that this is a core belief of Harper's – he shares the Cheney/Bush Machiavellian view that any and all rights and treaties can be broken in the name of fighting terrorists (or alleged ones).

      • Khadr does not fit the criteria of Child Soldier. It is under 15 not 15 and under. The people convicted in the Hauge have been convicted for statues of under 15. So I'll go with what the International Court has been actually prosecuting people on, not what people wish it was.

        Alternatively, if he was a child soldier when is his mother going to jail since she was supportive and facilitative of it? And it is also a crime to recruit child soldiers, which there is a decent case to be made that she apart of.

        One way or another one of those family members goes to jail. But right now, I think the right one is in jail.

        • We'll remember your love of technicalities when you've been dragooned across the world by a foreign army, Stephen.

          Honestly, I sometimes wonder why we don't just lock up the Conservatives and throw away the key. I'm sure there's some technicality, in spite of basic human decency, that would allow us to do so.

          • He was dragooned??? Please.

          • Uh, yeah. He was arrested, cuffed, bagged, and shipped on a transport plane half way around the world. That's what "dragooned" means, if anything. It's not a relative term.

          • Sorry, I thought you meant he was dragooned into fighting with the Islamists

          • Well no, you are wrong again—-Khadr was severly injured in the battle after he killed the American soldier—-he was captured and the medics treated him for his injuries and probably saved his life, even though he was a Canadian who chose to fight against our troops and our allies.

            Oh, and since it seems like it`s OK to insult people—-Jack is a Twit.

          • You have to give your reasons why I'm a twit, William. Just like I was giving above. Nobody cares about your opinion.

            Are you denying that Khadr was put in a bag and shipped half way around the world? Because, you know, he was. That's what happens when the US storm troops come for you, William. They put a bag on your head, cuff your hands behind your back, hobble you with a chain, and take you to a concentration camp where there is no law. Can you tell them to take you away, William? It would be so nice.

          • I guess if I, as a Canadian, kill a Canadian soldier or one of our allies soldiers then I expect I will be treated in a stern manner by my captors. No surprise there.

            You don`t need me to tell me why you are a twit Jack—–just read what you have been writing—-it will come to you.

          • You're so illiterate you can't even insult your opponents properly.

            "I guess if I, as a Canadian, kill a Canadian soldier or one of our allies soldiers then I expect I will be treated in a stern manner by my captors. No surprise there."

            Indeed. But you are not a 15-year-old boy, William. You're not even a 12-year-old.

        • You're aware that the Khadr family are all different people? The dad was a different person from the mom, who is different from the son as well? This is important to remember, because the fact that his mother isn't going to jail doesn't have a lot to do with whether Omar Khadr was a child soldier or not.

          • You're just using a fact-based argument!

          • Well Tom

            http://www.icc-cpi.int/menus/icc/press%20and%20me

            "Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a former leader of a militia group at war in the North Eastern Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has been formally charged by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court with enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 and using them to participate actively in hostilities."

            This is talking about THE FIRST EVER trial for recruiting Child Soldiers. The stature actually used by the International Criminal Court, who are the only bodty who have ever put anyone to trial and actually convicted someone, says under 15. There are proposals etc out there that mentionunder 16, under 18, under 14…..

            So we can go with any one of a number of definitions, but the only one that is operationalized at this point in time says under 15, not 15 and under.

            So Tom it is not a "complete fabrication". It is used by the Interational Criminal Court to actually convict.

          • No, Stephen, it's still a complete fabrication to say that the definition of "child soldier" with respect to Canada's international commitments is <15.

            The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 created "children under fifteen" as a specific protected class. For the most part, it crops up in reference to how occupying military powers are obliged to ensure these kids aren't separated from their parents and fed and educated. Drawing on the Geneva Conventions, the ICC prosecutes the specific war crime 8 (2) (b) (xxvi)of "using, conscripting or enlisting children." There's also a reference to this in the 1977 Protocol II, although I don't know offhand if the optional protocols are binding on the ICC or not.

            The grounds for prosecution at the ICC are irrelevant, though, and will remain so until the following steps occur:
            1) someone raises Ahmed Khadr from the dead
            2) the Canadian government refuses to prosecute him for war crimes using the domestic courts system
            3) the chief prosecutor of the ICC determines Canada is failing to uphold its Rome statute commitment to prosecute war criminals domestically, and issues an ICC indictment
            4) some other state party to the Rome Statute captures Ahmed Khadr and delivers him to the Hague
            5) Ahmed Khadr stands trial for war crimes in the Hague

            Personally, I think step 1 is the main problem here, but I could also see step 2 causing some issues.

            The question is not whether Ahmed Khadr committed a war crime. The issue is whether Omar Khadr fits into the special international legal category called a "child soldier." That category is established by the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child, which dates from 2000, not 1949. And it's that document—not the Rome Statute–which provides a treaty commitment binding both Canada and the United States to not punish soldiers under 18.

  4. If the Yankees wanted Khadr out of Gitmo Obie would have asked Stevie by now (behind the scenes and with plausible denialblity of course) .. let's try a thought experiment = Let's say the Supreme Court says to Stevie you have to try to get him back…. Ok .. Stevie sends " Strong Diplomatic Note " to Obie with his own plausible denial the SOC made me – Obie says NO – everybody happy happy – so at the end of the day what does all this nonsense boil down to – if you are picked up off a battlefield fighting against your own people (NATO) and held prisoner in a place where your home nation has no authority you are sweet out of luck case closed … and rightly so …

    • Well, you're "sweet out of luck" if you're Canadian. If you're from any other Western nation who had a citizen in this exact same situation, you get repatriated. Let's not pretend that there were no other people in this exact same scenario who've already been returned to Germany, Australia, the UK…. many of them accused of things arguably much worse than what Khadr is accused of, and most of whom were adults at the time of their alleged crime.

      Also, as for your "If the Yankees wanted Khadr out of Gitmo Obie would have asked Stevie by now", I just don't think that's the case. Besides, if it's clear Obama's going to say no, then couldn't your scenario work just fine in reverse? Couldn't the Tories determine, behind the scenes, that President Obama is going to say no, and then just save the expense and time of the courts and ask for him back secure in the knowledge that the answer will be no? After all, the Court didn't even order that the government has to repatriate Khadr. All they've really said is that they're obligated to at least ask the question.

      Obviously we're looking at the same facts and drawing two different conclusions, but my view of this for some time (going back to the Bush Administration) is that the Harper government is so loathe to ask for Khadr's repatriation precisely BECAUSE they know that the Americans would have him on a plane to Pearson so fast our heads would spin, if only we'd ask.

    • I guess because I'm a sucker for "thought experiments," Wayne, I'll set aside the challenges faced by anyone trying to figure out just what you're trying to communicate and give it a try.

      So: the SCoC says the government has to try and get him back. A "Strong Diplomatic Note" is sent to the Americans to that end. You assume that it will be sent directly from PMSH to PO. I'm not sure things would actually happen that way, but it's your experiment, so fine, but "with his own plausible denial the SOC made me"? You would have to explain that to me. Does it have anything to do with PMSH not liking to take responsibility for things?

      "Obie says NO." Why would he say no? As LKO points out, any western nation who's requested the repatriation of their citizens from Guantanamo has had their request granted. Have you got a plausible explanation for such an abrupt and mysterious policy reversal?

      And then it's "Everybody happy happy," with some sort of moral to the story that assumes an outcome that seems rather at odds with how the legal cases for both the Canadian and American governments have proceeded so far, so I think you'll have to explain that part to me, too.

      Wayne, this isn't a thought experiment about Omar Khadr at all! You're just trying to trick people into participating in your descent into madness! You FIEND!

      • The letters are sent from Foreign Affairs to the State Dept and cc'ed to the Amabassdor or the reverse I can't remember … sometime back I caught Obama answer an american reporters question re: Khadr and getting rid of him behind the scenes as it were = he said NO Khadr is charged and will be tried case closed. As for the Moral of the story if your parents go on TV bragging about how proud of you they are for getting plucked off a battlefield fighting against your country's and or it's allies correct me if I am wrong but I think that's called Treason isn't it – what part do you not understand?

        • Thanks to you both. As it turns out, I understood it perfectly.

        • If you're asking whether the parents bragging on TV is treason, then allow me to correct you. You're wrong.

          You may have a better point as to whether going overseas to fight against Canada and/or her allies is treason. On that point, say, here's a thought: Let's charge him with treason and try him in an open court! It'd be like being a "democracy" and having respect for the "rule of law"!!! You're probably right though. Allowing him to be held without trial by a foreign power in an overseas military base for over a 30% of his life is probably the more sensible response.

      • I think we both disagree with Wayne's assumptions somewhat similarly, but (and not to speak for Wayne, but….) I think I understand his point about "with his own plausible denial the SOC made me". Here, I believe the "plausible denial" Wayne is referring to is Harper's explanation to the Tory base. So, in this scenario (post-SCC challenge) Harper can legitimately claim to the base that doesn't even want the question asked, "Look, I did everything I could. Once the (Liberal-appointed) Supreme Court said we had to ask the question, we had to ask the question. I fought the good fight, but once you're beat, you're beat". From a political perspective I think this is entirely logical, and is the best (and frankly only) reason for the government to keep challenging (I'm coming from the perspective of "they're probably going to lose", and, even more surely, "the Americans will accede to the request once it's finally made").

        As for Wayne's seeming confidence that the Americans will say no, I'm just as confident they'll say yes, and I don't know where Wayne gets that from. Aside from the fact that they've said yes in EVERY OTHER CASE TO DATE, as I've explained, I really don't think they can actually convict Khadr (it seems to me it was becoming clear they were highly unlikely to be able to convict him under the previous military commissions, and whatever new system they finally decide on is sure to make it MORE difficult to convict him, not less) and I have almost no doubt that even if they managed to convict him that he'd get no more than time-served given his age at the time of the alleged offense, the nature of the offense, and the nature of his incarceration since being apprehended. So, to my mind, the combination of "we've acceded to every other similar request ever made to us" and "we're going to have to let him go at some point in the not too distant future anyway" make American acquiescence to a repatriation request a pretty sure thing.

        They're gonna make our government actually ask the question though.

        • make no mistake the Yankees are not just sitting back waiting for us to ask first. As Omaba clearly stated Khadr has been charged and the proceedings underway. Now let's just pretend you are right and the SOC makes Stevie send the note to Obie : now .. if Obama says YES! .. next stop Toronto airport for Khadr and then the Republicans have a perfect attack on Obama – soft on terrorists, relies on allies to cover his keyster and well I could go on and on and what does Obama gain? an empty room at Gitmo and a bunch of very unhappy military personell who don't take lightly to the enemy being spirited ouit of prison just to make a presidents life a little easier. Nope don't wash – if you look at things from their perspective the picture changes –

          • I just don't think so.

            Every single other Western detainee in Gitmo was repatriated to their country of citizenship. EVERY LAST ONE. Many of those were accused of killing more than one person, and being much more actively involved in al Qaeda and terrorist activities generally than the young Mr. Khadr. Not that some wouldn't try, but I think it would be spectacularly inane of Republicans to attack Obama for acceding to a request from Canada for the repatriation of Khadr after George Bush set the precedent of acceding to the repatriation of every other Western citizen ever held at Gitmo. What, they expect Obama to draw the line NOW? Over this (then) 15 year old kid whom they're probably going to have to let go soon anyway? After George W. Bush set the multiple precedents of doing this very thing EACH AND EVERY SINGLE TIME SOMEONE ASKED? And at a time when the American administration is basically almost BEGGING any country who will listen to take these people off their hands so they don't have to ship them to Kansas (and they've been doing that since the Bush Administration too).

            Again, not that some Republicans wouldn't be simple-minded enough to use this as an attack, but I'm pretty sure, "I'm following the precedent that the Bush Administration set EACH AND EVERY TIME THIS SCENARIO EVER CAME UP IN THE HISTORY OF GITMO" is a pretty good defense.

  5. Remind me again….what was Irwin Cotler's position on Khadr back in the days when he was AG?

    • And again, my retort to that bit of nonsense of an argument is that the Conservatives are the government now, and whining about the Liberals at the time not doing anything doesn't give an excuse for the present government to not do anything, or make the situation worse, as Harper is done.

      One little reminder.. the Liberals DID move to bring Maher Arar home after they found out the horrible mistake that had been made.. and even as they were doing so, you can read thru Hansard and see that folks like DIan Abliczy, Stockwell Day, and Stephen Harper were using their parliamentary immunity asking why the Liberals were trying to help "this terrorist" and go against the US decision to rendition him… when there hadnt even been an investigation yet as to what exactly Arar had supposedly done.

      Rest assured, if Harper had been in power when Arer first got renditioned.. Arer would still probably be in Syria now, short of a court order.

    • And again, my retort to that bit of nonsense of an argument is that the Conservatives are the government now, and whining about the Liberals at the time not doing anything doesn't give an excuse for the present government to not do anything, or make the situation worse, as Harper is done.

      One little reminder.. the Liberals DID move to bring Maher Arar home after they found out the horrible mistake that had been made.. and even as they were doing so, you can read thru Hansard and see that folks like Diane Ablonzcy, Stockwell Day, and Stephen Harper were using their parliamentary immunity asking why the Liberals were trying to help "this terrorist" and go against the US decision to rendition him… when there hadnt even been an investigation yet as to what exactly Arar had supposedly done.

      Rest assured, if Harper had been in power when Arer first got renditioned.. Arer would still probably be in Syria now, short of a court order.

    • Pretty much the same as the current government's I believe, but I'd point out two things. As in so many cases the Toy's point to, the Liberals being wrong in the past is not an excuse for the Tories to follow the Liberals' wrong-headed policy today (though on many issues they seem to argue that it is). Also, one could argue that after waiting for a trial in a cell in Cuba for roughly three and a half years under the Liberals' tenure it's not inconceivable that the Liberals could decide that a second 3 and a half years of pre-trial incarceration under the Tories' tenure is enough already. Surely at some point a person who thought it was OK that he'd been held without trial for X number of years could decide that Y numbers of years of incarceration without trial was too many. Someone in our criminal justice systemaccused of murder languishing behind bars for this long without trial would have had the charges against them dropped entirely long ago in all likelihood. No matter the crime he's accused of, is there simply no limit whatsoever to how long we'd allow one of our 15 year old citizens to be held without trial by a foreign government without even ASKING for him to be repatriated? Sure he's accused of serious crimes. For all we know he'll still be "accused of serious crimes" 20 years from now. Is there no point at which we'd say "Enough is enough. Try him, or let him go"?

  6. My stab at Harper mind reading on this:

    One of the main reasons Harper is appealing the decisions is because he doesn't like to be told by federal courts how he should be conducting the country's foreign policy. Among other things he sees it as a conflict between Executive and Judicial branches that he doesn't want to lose.

    • Especially if the courts are right, because that's even worse!

    • To Mat and all others here on this thread:

      It is only tangentially 'foreign policy'.
      It is a humans rights issue – an entirely appropriate (and necessary) arena for the courts.

      • The foreign affairs bit is a strange thing for the nay side to be hanging their hat on, and I wonder if they've given it sufficient thought. It would be curious indeed if the Canadian government could ignore the constitutional rights of its citizens merely by agreeing with another country to do so.

  7. 2003/04 right after 9/11 and new info that has come out since – please don't use the Liberals did it first nonsense.

    Harper's had nearly 4 years that includes new info

  8. I am willing to accept Stephen's original assertion that it is a core belief driving Harper on this issue. I for one don't see Khadr as a cute kid, rather he is a young man who was victimized by a wacked out family. I would love to believe he is not beyond redemption and would not be somewhat dangerous but suspect the odds are not in his favour.

    Nevertheless Khadr is a Canadian being held illegally by a foreign power. The "criminal charges" he faces would not state up to scrutiny in either a Canadian or US court of law. He is going to be released and by all accounts back in Canada before very long independent of the Supreme Court decision.

    Harper had the chance to bring Khadr back through a negotiated settlement that would have provided opportunities to monitor Khadr and protect Canadians. Instead he has pushed an ideological approach to its ultimate conclusion. If Harper wins the Supreme Court challenge, Khadr's return to Canada might be delayed until sometime next year. He will arrive a hero, be free to go where ever he wants. All of this effort, $ and ill will for a few months.

    If Harper loses he will have transformed the relationship between the courts and Canadian foreign policy. He will have empowered "Canadians of Convenience" to expand from public appeals to court action in their advocacy for the Canadian government to take up their cause.

    Most of the posts have been about the personal ethics of Harper's approach to Khadr. Personally, I am appalled by Harper's personal arrogance; a arrogance that allows him to pursue a course of action that balances a potential minor personal victory for himself against a major upheaval of the country's governance. His strategy is blatantly stupid and counter to Canada's interests.

    • That's the crux of the issue I think, and why the court challenge is understandable from Harper's perspective, but will ultimately be meaningless, if not destructive to the Tories' general preferences.

      I truly believe Khadr's getting out eventually, and probably reasonably soon. Either the Americans are going to decide they can no longer reasonably try him in anything even resembling a fair trial, they'll decide they can't possibly convict him in anything even resembling a fair trial, or they'll manage to convict him through some dubious process, and likely have him sentenced by a judge to time served. Any way you slice it now (imho) repatriation is, ironically, now the only option open to preventing Khadr from just walking free and clear in the not too distant future. At which point, almost assuredly, his lawyers will be waiting for him at the airport to start briefing him on the multimillion dollar lawsuit they just filed on his behalf.

      Hell, at some point we might even reach a point where his lawyers would actually fight a repatriation with conditions, arguing that he's better off just staying in Gitmo a few months longer and being set free by the Americans condition-free.

    • Not sure how it lets the courts run foreign policy. The federal court found a narrow range to drive the remedy which was that Canadian officials violated Mr Khadr's rights by acting as consular officials but then passing on intelligence. They used the point that Canadian government officials "violated his rights" and said an appropriate remedy was that he be allowed to come home and face consequences here rather than there.

      Not sure how this shows the court running foreign policy, but it is an interestign counter argument. To take up your contention that it is though, the government doesnt have any choice but to appeal. Accepting the lower courts ruling is a way of saying this is how it should be done. Rememeber in the the Same Sex marriage ruling the SC used the fact that the federal government hadnt appealed a number of cases to indicate "that Parliament had spoken" and that the court wasnt making law. If this is a powers issue as well, then the federal government has no choice but to appeal to get it clairifed and corrected.

  9. Tom A,

    You stated that under 15 was a complete fabrication……ulm nope

    "Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a former leader of a militia group at war in the North Eastern Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has been formally charged by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court with enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 and using them to participate actively in hostilities. "

    If you dig into this case, the FIRST and as yet Only conviction of someone by the International Criminal Court on charges of Child Soldiers, you will find the charges were about under 15 as this indicates.

    There are lots of definitions etc on this, some under 18, some under 14, some at 16….the only operationalized one used by the ICC is under 15 not 15 and under.

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