If Omar Khadr had not been captured by American forces in Afghanistan in 2002 as a 15 year old there is little doubt in my mind he would have ended up as an adult member of Al-Qaeda, ISIL or some other radical Islamic group. But he was captured and so for the next decade of his life he was detained without charges, tortured and denied a proper day in court. Now that he is back in Canada and we are trying to give him some semblance of a fair trial we have the government fighting it at every step. I really expect nothing less from a government that seems to like to speak about complex topics as being black and white. Don’t like the government seeing everything you do online? You must the a child pornographer. Are you an industry leading technology CEO that doesn’t like bill C-51? You are unpatriotic and should reconsider your business model. You want a Canadian citizen to have a fair trial after years of legal, psychological and physical abuse? You are a bleeding heart liberal that supports murdering terrorists. Any suggestion to an MP that there might be more complexity to a topic is laughed off with a well rehearsed smirk, Whatever offended you is of course not what I meant. It is beyond imagining that anyone could have interpreted it that way. Then on to the next topic.
Omar Khadr was considered a young offender under Canadian law when he is accused of the crimes in question. The tribunal in Gitmo was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme court and so the US government then re-wrote their already insanely re-written rules to include new laws that Khadr would be guilty of. After the fact. Child soldier, witness statements that claimed the person that threw the grenade was killed in the fight that were later changed to say the person was just wounded, torture, illegal courts, retroactive law. Any one of these is enough for an appeal and probably an acquittal under Canadian law and yet we have the government fighting relentlessly to keep this man in jail. This is after leaving him to be tortured in Gitmo and using CSIS to extract information from him after he had been subjected to sleep deprivation techniques.
There are three scenarios where this type of reaction can make sense.
- The government wants to stick to its tough on crime/terror image so they maintain their talking points and position no matter what the facts say. It is a political play rather than a value judgment. Disgusting, but understandable.
- They are not smart people and genuinely see every issue in black and white. In their minds this truly is the right thing to do or say.
- They have access to information that we do not that makes this issue clear cut in their minds. They choose not to share this information with the public. Or the courts.
Omar Khadr was a bad person. We do not know if he is still a bad person. Even though the current government would like you to believe otherwise, the Canadian justice system is about rehabilitation, not punishment. Especially for young offenders. It is right that he be given a chance to prove himself a productive citizen.