The Huffington Post has a story that claims “Convicted war criminal Omar Khadr will be back in Canada before winter…”. As readers may remember, Khadr, a Canadian citizen pleaded guilty in 2010 to, among several other charges, murdering a U.S. sergeant in Afghanistan and supporting terrorism.
To many—especially those on the Left—Khadr was a child soldier because he was a 15-year-old when he fought in Afghanistan, and, apparently, this is supposed to somehow lessen his responsibility for his crimes.
Liberal Senator and retired general Roméo Dallaire told the Huffington Post in an email that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews “has turned the life of this Canadian [Khadr] into a political game. This is above politics. Canada has a legal, moral and ethical obligation to repatriate this former child soldier.”
This may be technically true, I suppose, and this young man does have the right to be treated like any other Canadian citizen. But I believe Omar Khadr had achieved the age of reason and knew exactly what he was doing in Afghanistan, and meant to do it, when he was captured by American Forces.
Furthermore, Khadr does not fit the mold of the typical child soldier—at least, not the way I see it. I have heard of no evidence that the teenager was forced into a military unit and made to fight under threat to his life and/or the lives of members of his family.
Based on the evidence I’ve read, its just not good enough to cast Khadr as anything less than a willing participant in the four-hour firefight during which he threw the grenade that killed Sergeant Christopher Speer. And bear in mind that this is not an alleged incident since Khadr, after becoming an adult, has acknowledged his guilt and his responsibility for Sergeant Speer’s death.
None of the above, however, changes the fact that Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen and has the legal rights to which citizens are entitled. I wish there was a law whereby one could forfeit citizenship for taking up arms against a Canadian ally in a conflict to which Canada is a party. But clearly there does not seem to be such a law.
Moreover, a diplomatic note has, apparently, confirmed that our government was “inclined to favourably consider” Khadr’s transfer back to Canada. This seems a rather binding agreement with our foremost ally and largest trading partner, and not one out of which our government might want to weasel. So what real grounds does the minister have to deny the transfer?
As I see it, we going to be stuck with this man like it or not.