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A stray quick thought on Omar Khadr and the Obama visit to Canada.

If Stephen Harper (or his spokesperson) are saying they will not bring Omar Khadr up with President Obama, and if their claim that they don’t expect Obama to bring it up to them pans out, (though I would hope Obama surprises them and does raise the issue, which would make for some uncomfortable discussions for Harper), then I think it’s imperative that Michael Ignatieff – who gets a 10 minute courtesy chat with President Obama as leader of the Official Opposition – does bring it up with Obama when the 2 of them have their brief chit-chat. Furthermore, I’d hope Ignatieff makes sure the Harper government knows loud and clear […]

Harper continues to support Guantanamo Bay and the “process”

If you’re still wondering whether Harper would now reconsider his and his government’s hardline stance on Omar Khadr and repatriating him, now that Obama has suspended his trial and promised to close down Guantanamo Bay prison, the interview he did with the Ottawa Citizen should erase that notion, and I’m sure Peter MacKay, who publicly mused that the Conservatives should reconsider their position on Khadr, has been told by Harper and the PMO to shut up.

The interview by Harper does however give you a glimpse of why Canada is the only Western country that has a national in Guantanamo Bay, and some insight into our PM’s George Bush/Dick Cheney […]

More signs of a return to the rule of law under Obama.

Talking Points Memo has just reported an Associated Press “breaking” story that a draft executive order has been readied for Obama that will close down Guantanamo Bay prison within 1 year. This of course would be good news if true, but we still need to see what Obama intends to do with the now suspended military commission show-trials.

That latter maneuver, by the way, removes the excuse reason Harper keeps using for not repatriating Khadr. You know, about the fact there is a “process” ongoing? Well, the process has been suspended. It would be good political capital for Harper to spend with the new Obama administration by repatriating Khadr. If […]

Stockwell Day believed Maher Arar was/is innocent, despite Guantanamo revelations.

So, you’ve probably heard the revelations today from Guantanamo Bay by the prosecution’s first witness that not only was Omar Khadr happy to talk with them, but that he identified Maher Arar by name as being at an Afghanistan Al Queada prison camp. That of course has set off some of the frothy right-wingnuts into saying that we paid off a terrorist, and so on and so forth.

Impolitical has already mentioned how suspicious this looks – a last ditch attempt by the Bush administration to railroad Obama and his new administration not to do anything with the trials, when Obama has announced the Guantanamo gulag would close, and many […]

A deep thought on Harper and Omar Khadr

Ok, maybe not so deep, but as I read this morning that the pretrial hearing at Guantanamo for Omar Khadr is delayed yet again, with Obama already saying he will close Guantanamo Bay prison, and with many doubting Obama and his new administration will even go ahead with Khadr’s trial, I wonder if Stephen Harper, in a final display of pique, would try to refuse to repatriate Omar Khadr back into Canada if and when these events all occur, and if Obama and his administration request it of Harper.

We’ve already seen Harper was alone among Western nations in refusing to condemn the Bush-Cheney commissions process at Guantanamo Bay, and […]

Ignatieff calls on Harper to repatriate Omar Khadr

There has been some concern (some of it justifiable) that with his arrival to the Liberal leadership, Michael Ignatieff would drag the Liberal party on a rightward shift. Whether that happens or not is still an open question, but after receiving a statement on the subject of Guantanamo Bay and specifically Omar Khadr, at least on this issue, he has not:

Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was 13 years old when he was recruited as a child soldier and 15 years old at the time of his arrest, has been held in Guantanamo Bay for more than six years. His continued detention has violated fundamental principles of law, including […]

The Cons. trying to shift arguments for not repatriating Omar Khadr.

I find it interesting how much gyrations this Conservative government is going through in trying to justify why it should remain the only Western nation to not repatriate it’s citizens from Guantanamo Bay – or in this case, citizen, as only 1 by the name of Omar Khadr is there.

First, it was that they had to let the “process” take place at Guantanamo because he was facing very serious charges.

Then, the reason became that Khadr was a litmus test in showing the world how serious Canada was on terror. That was a false argument if there ever was one. Everyone knew that “the world” was code […]

Better disclosure on your guests, CTV (and maybe better guests, too).

In brief, I was reading this post by Jeff this AM afternoon, and I have to say along the same lines that for a pro vs con debate on a controversial topic, such as Omar Khadr, CTV can certainly bring on to debate whoever it wants – the choice of US Navy JAG Lawyer  Lieutenant Commander William Kuebler, who is defending Khadr,  is a solid choice, and good on CTV for bringing him on. Everyone knows quite crystal clear where he stands and why his views are what they are.

But, CTV has a duty to the viewers to properly identify the representative of the opposing viewpoint above and beyond the rather vague description of him as a security analyst and former Crown prosecutor.  They should have mentioned, in my view, that he worked in Stockwell Day’s office at one point, and let people know this fact so they could see where his point of view is partially coming from. The fact he has rather extreme views on the Charter of Rights and the judiciary in Canada, as Jeff has pointed out at his blogpiece, also makes one wonder if CTV couldn’t have found a better representative to articulate that side of the argument.

Wanting human rights respected isn’t being “emotional”

I’m not going to get into a detailed synopsis of Stephen’s blogpiece like Red Tory did – more like a rant – but I’ll say more or less the same thing that RT did:

There’s nothing “emotional” amongst the “left-wing” about calling for due process to be followed and insisting that rules of evidence and constitutional rights to be respected.  I didn’t realize those concepts are alien and foreign to Conservatives, but apparently, thats the case. Quite frankly, it shouldn’t have anything to do with “left vs right”. If Conservatives claim they are for the rule of law, then they too should be calling for Khadr’s return to Canada, as Jonathan Kay just did in the National Post recently. Stephen claims to be a libertarian Conservative; I see no evidence of libertarianism in anything he’s written on the Khadr topic so far.

On a side-note, I also get a chuckle out of his article where he claims that conservatives act on what they know to be true. Right – their inactivity on global warming in the face of all scientific consensus – even to outright denunciation of those scientific facts – plus claiming that statistics showing crime going down isn’t right because they “feel” its a problem, shows real-time evidence on that, eh Stephen? Those are 2 examples I can use – among several others. That claim is laughable; I can only presume he put that line in there in order to make his Blogging Tory readership feel good about themselves.

The bottom line is this: we in Canada are the only Western country left in the world that refuses to repatriate its citizens from Guantanamo and still laughably claim that Khadr is being treated well and that the legal process down there is fair – this is still being claimed by the Conservative government and its supporters even after the US Supreme Court recently ruled otherwise. Harper and his bunch are being shown for what they are – Bush clones for their attempting to ignore constitutional rights and human rights.  I’ve no doubt if he thought he could get away with it, that Harper would be trying to set up military tribunals up here and remove Canadian constitutional protection from people accused of these offences – all in the name of national security. Their attitude with Guantanamo and more or less claiming they believe the tribunals down there could handle things better then the Canadian court system up here (in essence, being afraid Khadr would be found innocent) is direct evidence of that.

The only thing I can say for Stephen’s piece is he’s writing it mainly for his Conservative Kool-Aid crowd’s benefit. It befits a blog article on the Blogging Tory site – it would be insulting the intelligence of Canadians if it were appearing in a mainstream media newspaper article.

[email protected]:10 pm: Red Tory in a new blogpost goes after the specific arguments of Taylor against repatriating Omar Khadr.

Harper shows his true colours & his contempt for the Canadian justice system.

So Steven Harper is now on public record as saying he has no intention of asking for the repatriation of Omar Khadr – this despite the growing evidence Khadr’s rights were violated, and it was done so with Canada knowing about it (and it started lamentably with the Paul Martin-led Liberal government), and despite growing pressure internationally and domestically on the Canadian government to do so.

This is not a surprise, but what Harper said yesterday about why the US should continue to deal with Khadr seems to me to show his utter contempt in the Canadian justice system:

He argued that the special U.S. military trial that Mr. Khadr faces – in which he does not have the same standard of legal representation and rights he would in an ordinary criminal trial – is the only way he could be brought to answer the charges against him…”frankly, we do not have a real alternative to that process now to get to the truth about those accusations”

You get that? Harper would rather have Omar Khadr be tried in a quasi-military court setting that the US Supreme Court has just ruled is unconstitutional in denying habeas corpus rights to the detainees then in Canada where he would be given his due process and proper legal representation before a Canadian court. That’s not good enough for Harper apparently.  It’s quite a slam on the Canadian Justice system, but then, Harper and the Conservatives have always made their disdain known for the judiciary in Canada. This is just one of the more extreme examples of it.

I’m going to leave aside the habeaus corpus argument here and/or the fact Canada has signed on to the Convention of the Rights of the Child and should have been insisting from the start that this applied to Khadr;  the fact of the matter is that Harper has just bluntly stated that the Canadian justice system is not an alternative to  determine whether a young man was guilty or not of the crime he was accused of committing.

According to Harper, the truth can only be found out in a setting where his legal counsel is denied access to the documents to allow a proper defence of him, where the US has refused to bring him to trial for several years despite claiming all this time he has committed terrorist acts (and which spurred even the conservative-tinged US Supreme Court to overrule this denial of habeas corpus rights), and where he is subjected to interrogation acts that cross the line at the very least, and which could be described as torture.

Yet Harper says we have “no real alternative” to trying Khadr in a traditional Canadian court over a quasi-judicial kangaroo court setting that the Supreme Court of the US has said has violated the Constitution? We can only find out the truth of Omar thru very questionable methods and very questionable tribunals where Khadr isn’t allowed to properly defend himself? And it doesn’t matter that other Western Countries repatriated their citizens held at Guantanamo and were able to use their process at home to deal with them?

Unbelievable.  This toadying by Harper to the Bush Administration and the similar disdain that Harper holds for the country’s legal system as Bush did for his (which is why Guantanamo was set up in the first place – to try and avoid those detainees being charged in traditional US courts so the supposed evidence against them couldn’t be properly scrutinized by a judge and defence lawyers) is appalling to anyone who believes in the rule of law, and rather scary.

You can read between the lines here, can’t you? If Omar were brought back here and the Canadian courts ordered his release, it wouldn’t be because he was innocent of the charges, or there were mitigating circumstances (being a child soldier); it would be because in Harper’s view, Canadian courts are too concerned with proper legal process and too concerned with following international law – “too liberal” in otherwards.

The self-proclaimed Party of Law and Order indeed. They seem to have forgotten the “law” part of the equation.

UPDATE: I’m not the only Progressive Blogger who’s enraged by Harper’s attitude about this. The story of Harper’s blatant disregard for proper judicial process has struck a chord of condemnation with those of us who believe in a liberal democracy and the right of the accused to face his accusers in a proper court of law, and its reflected at the Prog Blog aggergate this AM. I expect to see more as the day goes on.

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