For those of you not transfixed by the NDP convention — and really, watching Ken Georgetti on CPAC right this very moment, ITQ can’t imagine how any of you aren’t — with a hankering to find out how Bob Rae rates this government’s track record in protecting Canadians abroad, check back at 2:30 pm for full coverage.
Greetings, enthusiasts of human and constitutional rights even for those stranded abroad, where a small but feisty contingent of gallery membrs have gathered to await the arrival of Bob Rae, although in the interim, we’re discussing the highlights of the NDP convention so far. Apparently, just as ITQ was forced to tear herself away from CPAC, the opening spectacular was derailed by some sort of sinister shenaniganery, but that’s all I know at the moment.
And here he is — greeting us with a rather charming “Hullo” before launching into his opening remarks, which have been updated to highlight this morning’s ruling on Omar Khadr — which he helpfully recaps for those of us who weren’t paying quite as much attention as we should — before imploring the government to stop the legal wrangling, and bring Khadr home.
His version of the Khadr history, it’s worth noting, is a little more kindly to the Liberals — or at least, the previous Liberal government — as far as the way Khadr’s case was handled on their watch, but he focuses mostly on the here and now: “This is the moment, this is the time, when the Canadian government has to take a position.”
And — now the same statement in French. Huh, I guess I was expecting this to be a bit broader of an attack on the government’s laissez faire attitude towards Canadians held abroad, but I suppose the Khadr ruling makes his case irresistably timely. Anyway, it’s time for questions, and the CBC up first: What about the part of the ruling that seems to contradict the government’s position that the legal process has to work itself out south of the border before Canada gets involved? Not surprisingly, Rae is in fulsome agreement with the court — which, he notes, has “clearly found that the law is not being upheld”, as far as the responsibility to recognize Charter rights — and he notes that one benefit to having his colour of hair means that he remembers who fought against the Charter — that would be the ones currently being asked to enforce it.
That said, he points out, that, as Canadians, “we can’t pick and choose the cases we fight for,” and he addresses the Khadr conundrum directly, using an email he received just this morning as a segue that wondered why he persists in defending *this* person, who comes from “a bad family”.
This isn’t about defending his family, this is about the law, and what was done to Khadr without recognizing that he was a child. “I don’t know why we go through this exercise,” he says, referring to the near certainty that the government will appeal to the Supreme Court.
A reporter wonders about the government’s “persistence” in challenging these rulings — is it really about Khadr, or at least, his case, or a question of preserving executive privilege? Rae notes that the argument presented in the courts has been “very consistent” – and the first has, indeed, been “executive privilege” — the same argument used by Richard Nixon, he muses. If they want to go to the Supreme Court and have it ‘categorically stated’ that there *are* limits to that privilege, well — good luck to them, is the unstated response. Rae doesn’t seem to like their chances.
Not to mention – which he does – that we *all* have an obligation to respect the Charter. Oh, and he thinks it’s “neither here nor there” that this happened under a Liberal government, although he’s careful to point out the few attempts made by that government to ensure that he was treated as a juvenile, provided with consular access and other minor considerations, none of which were granted.
And finally, a question on the Mohamed case: Rae says that, like everyone, he’s looking forward to her return; once she does, it will be time to “look at the full record” to figure out what went wrong.
What about the need to enshrine the rights of Canadians abroad? Any chance the Liberals might bring forward some sort of bill to that effect? Rae notes that Dan McTeague and Irwin Cotler have both been involved in looking at potential legal changes, as well as administrative changes to ensure Canadians are “adequately protected”, particularly in an era when they travel with more than one passport. (Insert Just Visiting ad here.)
When the House comes back, there will be an opportunity to look at that, he says. Well, unless we go straight to an election, of course.
And — that’s it. I hope y’all enjoyed this little bit of alternative programming — now, back to the NDP convention. I bet there are doin’s a’happenin’ for sure!