The critics are raving

Let it never be said that Stephen Harper is not a uniter. 

Witness Canadians of disparate backgrounds and circumstances come together, right now, over him in this weekend sampling.

Maher Arar. “Guantanamo Bay still holds two Muslim former child soldiers, one of whom is Omar Khadr, the Canadian citizen whose story has made headlines for several years. How much longer will our government wait before asking for his repatriation? Is it not enough, even for those who fully believe the U.S. charges against him, that he has spent more than a third of his life in a detention camp where he was regularly tortured, abused and humiliated?”

Victoria Times Colonist. “The Harper government’s refusal to bring Omar Khadr home from the Guantanamo Bay detention centre appears increasingly petty and vindictive.”

Saskatoon Star Phoenix. “The Harper government should have him shipped back and take measures to ensure that not only ensures the safety of the Canadian public but safeguards the basic rights of a young person who has already served six of the harshest years imaginable behind bars for a crime allegedly committed as a child soldier.”

Calgary Herald. “Child soldiers are not irredeemable, by reason of their youthfulness and adaptability, but Khadr’s potential is unknown. Samantha Nutt, founder and executive director of War Child Canada, has characterized child soldiers like him as victims who are also aggressors.The federal government must walk a fine line between infringing on the freedoms of a Canadian citizen who is legally innocent of any crime until proven otherwise, and using all lawful means to ensure he is under control and gets the treatment he needs.”

Jane Taber. “Defence Minister Peter MacKay deserves a Hot for speaking the truth this week about ‘reassessing’ the fate of Canadian Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr after U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to shut down the prison. Mr. MacKay’s remarks proved to be controversial to his own government. A Harper official explained later that what Mr. MacKay really meant was that the government is ‘watching what the U.S. administration is saying very closely.’ But Mr. MacKay, a lawyer who is aware of the consequences of holding people indefinitely without trial and other human-rights issues, was simply responding honestly. Indeed, he is much more knowledgeable about the issue than PMO officials, who tried to tweak his remarks, and who do not have his experience, especially since he also served as foreign affairs minister.”

Letter writer, Toronto Star. “For more than six years, the government of Canada – first the Liberals and now the Conservatives – has been pretending that Khadr is not a Canadian citizen, and getting away with it because he belongs to an obnoxious and deservedly unpopular family. If his surname were Smith or Tremblay, he would have been home years ago.”

Allan Rock. “There can no longer be any serious doubt that Mr. Khadr’s six-year detention in Guantanamo did not accord with either international law or the U.S Constitution. On three occasions, the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected various aspects of the military tribunal’s process. Our own Supreme Court ruled last year that the circumstances in which Mr. Khadr was being held in 2003, when Canadian officials interviewed him, violated international legal obligations to which Canada was bound.

Letter writer, Globe and Mail. “We are a country that lives by the rule of law and every citizen has the right to be dealt with according to that law. That does not include being subjected to indefinite detention without trial, nor does it permit torture as a means to an end. That Ottawa has dragged its feet on this issue for several years has not helped the situation and in fact shows support for those countries that do not support the rule of law.”

Irwin Cotler. “I suspect the route to go would be one that does not favour a prosecution, but one that would protect Canadian security if he is deemed a risk and at the same time arrange for rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The key thing is that he was a child soldier and we do not prosecute child soldiers.”