Unless you’re living under a rock, you probably already know that Trudeau and his liberal government have awarded Omar Khadr, a former child soldier and Al-Qaeda terrorist, 10.5 million dollars. Without knowing why the government paid Omar Khadr, or what he did to deserve 10.5 million dollars, your probably thinking “what? How does a terrorist get 10.5 million of tax payer dollars from the Canadian Government?” Oh and I forgot the cherry-on-top – Khadr also got an apology from the government.
Here’s what happened.
Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen who was sent to Guantanamo Bay for ten years at the age of 16. Khadr pleaded guilty to murdering an US Army Sargent in Afghanistan, where he had joined Al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks. When he was released from Guantanamo Bay he disputed his conviction charges and sued the Canadian government for violating his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada also supported Omar Khadr’s claims, ruling that the Canadian Government’s interrogation of Khadr was unlawful and “offended the most basic Canadian standards of the treatment of detained youth suspects.”
On July 4th 2017, the Trudeau government and its legal council decided to settle with Omar Khadr, rather than pursuing the case in a civil court, where Trudeau claimed the case would have resulted in an indefinite loss for the government and a higher payout for Khadr.
Justin Trudeau justified the settlement by saying “If we had continued to fight this, not only would we have inevitably lost, but estimated range from 30-40 million dollars that would have ended up costing the government, so this was the responsible path to take.”
Trudeau also mentioned that “the measure of a society, of a just society, is not whether we stand up for people’s rights when it is easy or popular to do so. It is whether we recognize rights when it is difficult.”
Anger towards the settlement and apology continues to boil across Canada. A recent poll has found that 71% Canadians believe the settlement was the wrong thing to do.
While the anger and sentiment is completely reactional, it is important that Canadians understand the reasoning behind this. Trudeau is on the ball when he says that standing up for a Canadians rights does not only happen when it is the popular thing to do, you must follow through, even when it is a difficult choice to make.
The Conservatives, even though they are aware that in a court-of-law the payout could have been much higher, will use this as a talking point in the next election. Andrew Sheer will hold this against Trudeau and his government for the years to come, and will play on the harsh sentiment Canadians are feeling across the country right now.
This is probably the worst image issue the Trudeau government has faced since taking office. It plays into the hands of those who view the prime minister as soft on terrorism. While it is not a fair impression, it is an impression. It is an impression that will have a lasting impact and will be played by the conservatives going into the next federal election.