The Supreme Court of Canada has given the Conservative government a dressing down over the repatriation of Omar Khadr when, in a 9-0 ruling, the court found that Canada and the United States are violating Mr. Khadr’s right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court, however, stopped short of upholding a lower court’s demand that the Stephen Harper government request that the United States release Khadr to Canadian custody.
Not a bad decision in a difficult case, I would say.
The court has avoided a dangerous precedent of interfering with the government’s (executive’s) prerogative of determining and executing Canada’s foreign relations. And that’s a good thing.
By finding unanimously that Canada has violated the man’s Charter rights, one wonders whether the government can ignore the courts and continue to leave Khadr’s fate in the hands of the Americans.
It is generally believed that, if Omar Khadr were to be returned to Canada, he would be released based on time served in the United States. If he remains in American custody, he’ll likely face life in prison.
I am torn on this one.
I detest anyone who would take up arms against Canada, which is effectively what Khadr did when he involved himself in a firefight with the Americans at a time when they fought as our allies in Afghanistan. This is treason in my book. And I don’t believe his age should excuse him from punishment.
I am, however, of the opinion that he has been shoddily treated by his American captors, not because he might have been harshly interrogated, but because he has spent about eight years in prison without anything resembling a fair trial. I don’t believe this is justice.
American serial killers and brutal child molesters receive a timely and fair trial—why shouldn’t Khadr? In his case, what sources of intelligence is there to protect? I see no excuse for such a delay.
Without question, our government needs special powers with which to fight modern terrorism, but to allow a Canadian citizen to languish in any prison for eight years without trial seems beyond the pale. There is a limited amount Canada can do without cooperation from the United States, I get that. But, in my view, Canada has done little but stand back and watch.
And that’s not good enough.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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