By Gerry Barker
July 17, 2017
Let’s start with the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling dismissing Omar Khadr, a made terrorist, who killed and wounded two U.S. servicemen in combat against Afghanistan militants including the Taliban and Al Qaeda some 15 years ago.
My former editor had a precise order when investigating malfeasance by government and it deep pocketed supporters: “Follow the money.”
When former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority government agreed to repatriate convicted Canadian terrorist Omar Khadr from a U.S. prison, it marked the beginning of a legal wrangle that lasted five years.
Let’s skip back to 2010 when Conservative Stephen Harper won a majority in the House of Commons and the Liberals were crushed winning only 35 seats. The New Democrat Party elected more than 100 seats and became the official opposition. The Liberals were in disarray, a new leader, Justin Trudeau, was elected and the rebuilding of the “natural governing party” began.
Now let’s ask questions that track back to that 2010 defeat of the Liberals.
It did not take long following Khadr’s release from a Canada prison that legal action began to prove Khadr’s innocence.
In view of the long legal action taken on Khadr’s behalf for more than five years, who was paying his ongoing legal bills?
Mr. Khadr did not have the funds to pay what turned out to be a team of lawyers. It is doubtful they were working pro bono.
So what were the sources of funding his defense team?
Who were his underwriters? What was the motivation to fund Khadr’s defence? Khadr had no collateral to finance his quest for indemnification. Lawyers don’t work for nothing.
More important, aside from Khadr’s $10.5 million settlement and his lawyers’ costs, who else really benefited from this settlement?
Which political party in Ottawa had the most to gain from the Khadr affair?
What role did that play in the 2014 defeat of the Harper Conservatives?
Winning 183 seats from the 35 held in the previous parliament, it is now evident that the Liberal victory was one of the greatest in living memory.
Of all the political parties in Ottawa, notwithstanding running an excellent campaign, did the Liberal party benefit from private financing of the Khadr case over the last five years?
Canadians probably will never know the answer to that question. It does leave a question, if the Liberal supporters were not complicit in paying Khadr’s legal bills, who was?
What were Khadr’s legal costs after five years of trials and other expenses?
For Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to now say the settlement was necessary because the cost to Canadians would have been $30 to $40 million and the government would still have lost, is a taste of hyperbole.
Canadians want to know why did this case cost so much and take so long?
The Supreme Court ruled that Khadr’s rights were denied because he was a Canadian citizen and the Canadian government did not intervene to protect his civil rights.
Khadr’s involvement in combat wasn’t a schoolboy fight; he was armed with grenades and used them. He was sent to Guantanamo Bay, the top security prison populated by terrorists. He confessed to killing a U.S. servicemen and partially blinding another, but later recanted.
As a Canadian citizen, did Mr. Khadr contribute to the obligations required as a citizen? Did he pay income tax? Did he have a bank account, or pay for his travel to the Afghanistan war zone? Did he swear to support the Canadian Constitution and accept Queen Elizabeth as our head of State? Did he accept government social payments including health care and welfare? Did he attend Canadian schools and study Canadian history? Did he have any Canadian friends? Did he know the words to the national anthem?
Instead, he was described as “boy soldier” therefore not responsible for his actions.
The fact that his parents were Al Qaeda operatives, who received Canadian citizenship, exacerbates the lack of screening of immigrants arriving in Canada. This isn’t to disparage the work of our border and immigration agents. They work under express rules in dealing with immigrants and in the past 15 years, the average intake annually is 200,000. That placed enormous pressure on our front-line staffs in Canada, and overseas, where much of the immigrant processing is done. This has occurred with Canada’s involvement in combating terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
Unfortunately, the government did not consider the effect of its decision to pay Mr. Khadr $10.5 million in compensation for his alleged mistreatment while in U.S. custody.
The decision by the Supreme Court sets a dangerous precedent. Unfortunately, many immigrants use Canada as a safe, convenient place. A glaring example came during the fighting in Lebanon and residents complained to the Canadian government to provide transportation out of the country. A ship was sent, at government expense, to evacuate the part-time “Canadians.” Then they complained about the facilities aboard the vessel. A year later, when hostilities ceased, 57 per cent of those evacuees were back in Lebanon.
Shouldn’t Canadians now question how many Canadian citizens are part of ISIS and are aiding the cause of the Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East and Afghanistan?
They are not acting as Canadian citizens and their contribution to our established culture is minimal. But now our top court has ruled that as enemy combatants, they are entitled to compensation as Canadian citizens if captured by coalition forces.
Omar Khadr volunteered to fight in Afghanistan against U.S. forces. The United States is our ally and in 100 years Canada and the U.S. have fought tyranny in Europe, Korea and Afghanistan. Many Canadians fought in Viet Nam serving with U.S. forces. Canadians are remembered on the Viet Nam memorial wall in Washington that contains the names of 58,000 troops killed in action including Canadian volunteers.
None of them received $10.5 million from the Canadian government while serving in the service of a foreign country, one that was an ally fighting a common enemy.
This has not been a great week for the Prime Minister. He shuffled off to Hamburg to mingle with the G20 world leaders. The Khadr story broke and the firestorm of protest by Canadians from coast to coast will stick to him and his government like Gorilla glue on a doorknob.
The government lawyers who negotiated this settlement have given up; possibly spooked by the Supreme Court decision that Khadr’s constitutional rights had been violated. But did anyone in government consider the public interest and fall-out of the decision? Oh well, we’ll do it while the PM is in Hamburg. Martinis anyone?
Martinis aside, was the plan to get the Khadr situation out of the way before the election just two years away?
In Calgary, while attending the Stampede, the PM once again said the settlement was necessary to settle because of the millions it would have cost to defeat the lawsuit brought by Khadr for $20 million.
I, like many Canadians who are serving or have served in the military, police services and diplomatic corps are stupefied at the morality of the decision. It has sucked the juice of loyalty and service from thousands who cannot believe spending the $10.5 million but then also apologizing. Paid to this person, a Canadian by accident of birth, who consorted with the enemy and took part in armed combat against the forces of our ally.
The outrage has now extended to thousands of Canadians donating money. To date $134,000 has been collected to be given to Tabitha Speer and her two teenage daughters. The widow of the man Khadr killed attempted this week, in a Canadian court, to have a stay of payment to Khadr because she had a $134 million wrongful death award in a U.S. court.
Her motion was denied
Now there are demands to have the Canadian government compensate Ms. Speer and her two daughters.
So many questions and few answers.