(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
Canadians get it. Most think Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was wrong to compensate Omar Khadr, and wrong to do it in a secret deal.
Now we have the public opinion data to show it.
An Angus Reid poll found an overwhelming 71% of Canadians oppose the Trudeau government settling with Khadr out of court.
Two-thirds reject the government’s claim it had “no choice but to offer an apology and compensation to Omar Khadr”.
Only 24% believe Khadr was “treated unfairly” over the past 15 years.
That must have caught the Trudeau Liberals off guard.
The last time polling numbers on Khadr were in the news — when he was released from prison in 2015 — public opinion was much more evenly split.
Back then, the country was divided evenly on the question of whether Khadr had been treated fairly over the years.
What a difference two years — and $10.5 million in a secretly negotiated deal — can make.
So, what has changed?
There’s the deal, certainly, but also Trudeau’s blasé attitude towards combatting Islamist terrorist networks and protecting our national security.
There’s also the rise of ISIS, the increased number of Canadian citizens fighting alongside terrorist groups and the string of terrorist attacks throughout the West and on Canadian soil.
And it’s the changing media landscape — where liberal, establishment journalists no longer hold a virtual monopoly on framing facts and stating opinions.
The elite media can spin the news all they want, but citizens have found new ways to consume information directly — through social media, alternative news sites and direct news feeds.
We no longer need to have our news filtered through the Ottawa group-think bubble.
In the case of Omar Khadr, despite having the usual chorus of media cheerleaders defending Trudeau’s deal, Canadians made up their own minds.
Editorials, columns and even some news stories in major Canadian media outlets overwhelmingly told us Trudeau was right to award Khadr millions of dollars.
Some media stated as fact that Khadr was a child soldier — (Khadr was 15 at the time, while the Geneva Convention refers to children under 15) — and that he was tortured. (A military judge found he was not.)
Some reports began slipping the word “allegedly” before stating that Khadr killed Sgt. Christopher Speer, ignoring that Khadr signed a confession.
They simply accepted as factual Khadr’s later retraction, saying he only did it to get out of Guantanmo.
This is the type of spin Canadians have become used to, and fortunately, can see through.
According to J.D. Gordon, a retired U.S. Navy Commander who escorted media attending Khadr’s military commission hearings at Guantanamo, the Canadian journalists were “hopelessly naïve to the threat posed to Western Society by jihadist networks.”
Gordon worked closely with “a dozen or so Canadian journalists,” and told the Sun it often felt, “as if some were writing for student newspapers on left-wing college campuses.”
Many elites in the media, as well as academia, the courts and the Liberal government may hold deeply anti-American views.
They may prefer to sympathize with terrorists and traitors over our neighbour and closest ally, who helps keep us safe.
But most Canadians see things differently.
Most Canadians side with the real victims, the Speer family and...(READ MORE)