I was going to vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party in the next federal election.
But now I’ve become one of the “undecided voters.”
There are probably many more of us this week, after the Omar Khadr settlement was announced — after it was (deliberately) leaked to the media as Canada Day celebrations were ending and Trudeau had conveniently left the country.
The optics are bad — very bad.
Re: Canadian teen becomes a jihadist, joins terrorist organization, allegedly kills U.S. medic Christopher Speer and wounds another in Afghanistan in 2002, is repatriated to Canada from Guantanamo Bay and released from prison, sues Canada for $20 million for “violating his Charter rights,” is awarded $10.5 million by the current Liberal government in a secretive, out-of court settlement that is paid immediately this week, shortly before an Ontario court was to be asked to freeze the funds by Speer’s widow, who had already won a $134-million wrongful death claim against Khadr in a Utah court. Khadr reportedly cashed the cheque the day he received it.
“(The Liberal government) issued the cheque in the dark of night. If anything they should have cooperated with the counsel for Mrs. Speer to ensure her claim could be heard at a Canadian court prior to the transfer of these funds,” said Alberta Progressive Conservative leader Jason Kenney.
Speer’s lawyers will now have to go after Khadr personally.
Christie Blatchford, also of the National Post, put it this way in her column:
“If nothing else, at the very least, it’s a brilliant victory for the Taliban, al-Qaida, ISIL and all the other extremists: A young jihadist is now a hero in Canada for killing an infidel – and look, he got a big payday and an apology to boot.”
There is a lot more to this story, of course. And to be fair to Justin Trudeau, he didn’t create this mess. The situation was mishandled by previous governments, both Liberal and Conservative. And today’s Liberals are saying they settled this lawsuit because legal counsel advised them they would lose anyway, and they had already paid out $5 million in legal fees and would pay a lot more if they continued to fight the suit.
Still, the manner in which it was all resolved stinks, quite frankly, with the information first being leaked to the media and with the chief who signed off on the deal — Justin Trudeau — being out of the country, visiting the Queen and Ireland before heading off to the G20 meeting in Germany.
No doubt, Trudeau knew many Canadians would have a hard time swallowing this legal settlement, because let’s face it: if politicians violated Khadr’s rights, why should Canadians have to pay for their lapses in judgement? Why not hold the politicians personally liable, if not criminally liable? Why should they have diplomatic immunity? And why should anyone profit from (alleged) terrorism?
I get the principle. The Charter of Rights must be applied equally, no matter who the citizen and what crimes they may have committed. Whether Omar Khadr was “a child soldier” or “a child terrorist,” he is still covered by the Charter. He was entitled to something. But $10.5 million? Surely the government should have fought the lawsuit on its financial merits. After all, Khadr was not totally innocent: whether he was responsible for the death of the American medic and the maiming of another or not, he was there, in Afghanistan, seemingly participating in the fight against the West.
Imagine the uproar in the United States if President Trump signed off on a similar deal. But you know he wouldn’t do it, and that his response would be something like “… over my dead body.”
Which is why I am reconsidering my vote for Trudeau now. He is a great guy, a true man of the people who is spreading a wonderful global message of diversity and inclusiveness. But he doesn’t seem to have much of a backbone, and a good politician needs to be tough sometime.
Photo: Medic Christopher Speer is unloaded from a U.S. helicopter at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan in 2002.