(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has changed his tone, once again, on the Omar Khadr deal.
Canadians are angry, and Trudeau is now taking a more somber line of reasoning to justify his secret payout.
“I can understand Canadians’ concerns about the settlement,” said Trudeau on Thursday. “In fact, I share those concerns about the money. That’s why we settled.” At least Trudeau is finally admitting that it was, indeed, his government’s decision to settle with Khadr.
For the past week, Trudeau and his apologists have insisted that the payout was the result of a Supreme Court judgment that said Khadr’s rights had been violated.
As I pointed out in a recent column, however, nothing in the Supreme Court ruling said Khadr was entitled to cash, let alone $10.5 million. The ruling specifically left it “to the government to decide how best to respond.”
Regardless, Trudeau’s ministers and the Trudeau-friendly media blamed it on the courts, the Charter, and even on Stephen Harper and the previous Conservative government.
The instinct to blame Harper is silly, since the alleged abuse of Khadr took place under the Chretien government and the payout happened under Trudeau.
In fact, Khadr’s original civil suit primarily requested that he be repatriated to Canada to serve out the remainder of his sentence – a repatriation that happened in 2013 while Harper was Prime Minister. If anything, getting Khadr out of Guantanamo Bay and allowing him in Canada more than made up for any rights violations that may have occurred.
Keep in mind, despite what you may read in the biased media, it was never found that Khadr was tortured in Guantanamo. Khadr’s claims of torture were specifically disproven in court.
For instance, Khadr alleged in a signed affidavit that he was abused during a weigh-in at Guantanamo. But, as Judge Parrish noted in his ruling, “the videotape of the accused being weighed… clearly shows [Khadr] was not abused or mistreated in any way by any of the guards.”
Khadr was subject to the so-called “frequent flyer program” – where inmates were moved every three hours to disrupt a good night sleep. But even former Liberal Party Leader and human rights scholar Michael Ignatieff defended such a practice as “permissible” and not torture.
That’s the thing about Omar Khadr’s case. It’s so complicated, so unusual, that there is no recent legal precedent for dealing it. And that’s why Trudeau’s remarks just don’t stand up to scrutiny.
Trudeau also stated on Thursday, “if we had continued to fight this, not only would we have inevitably lost, but estimates range from $30 to $40 million that it would have ended up costing the government.”
Where did Trudeau get this estimate? Again, there is no historic standard in Canada for anything close to those numbers.
Khadr’s original lawsuit against Canada asked for $100,000. It was only after he gained media sympathy and attracted lawyers willing to represent him for free that his claim increased to $20 million.
And like Khadr’s disproven torture claims, it’s possible his case against the Canadian government, too, would have unraveled in court.
The decision to settle and give Khadr...(READ MORE)