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.”