What happened to Omar Khadr was wrong and he deserves an apology. Any fair minded Canadian would agree with that. However, who should pay his settlement is another question.
First a recap:
Born in Canada, Omar Khadr was taken to Afghanistan by his father, who was affiliated with a terrorist organization. On July 27, 2002, at age 15, Khadr was severely wounded in a firefight during the United States invasion of Afghanistan, in the village of Ayub Kheyl, in which several Taliban fighters were killed. After being captured and detained at Bagram, he was sent to Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba. He was alleged to have thrown a grenade during the firefight that resulted in the death of an American medic, Sgt. Christopher Speer. During his detention, Khadr was interrogated by Canadian as well as US intelligence officers.
Khadr pleaded guilty to murder and several war crimes in October 2010 at a hearing by a United States military commission. He was the youngest prisoner and last Western citizen to be held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay. He accepted an eight-year sentence, not including time served, with the possibility of a transfer to Canada after at least one year to serve the remainder of the sentence. Khadr was the first person since World War II to be prosecuted in a military commission for war crimes committed while still a minor. His conviction and sentence were widely denounced by civil rights groups and various newspaper editorials. His prosecution and imprisonment were also condemned by the United Nations.
Here is the key point:
The Supreme Court of Canada found that the Canadian government’s interrogation of Khadr at Guantanamo Bay “offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects”.
So the question is not whether Khadr was wronged, rather who is to blame. Here we can finger the most egregious form of guilt at the feet of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It was Harper who consistently played an “all-in” game of using and abusing the rights of citizens like Khadr for his own personal political gain. He loudly and publicly paraded Khadr’s imprisonment around his Conservative circles in a perverse form of dog whistle politics that sought to both divide Canadians and to fund raise on the backs of their fanned outrage. Now that he has entered the uber-corrupt lobbying phase of his career, he still wants divert attention away from his responsibility on the matter:
The Supreme Court was clear: What happened to Omar Khadr was wrong and he deserves an apology. Any fair minded Canadian would agree with that. However, it is Harper and the Conservatives who should pay his settlement out of their own pockets, not Canadians at large.