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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.


Some evidence that justice isn’t completely dead in the USA…

…at least, not yet:

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts. The justices handed the Bush administration its third setback at the high court since 2004 over its treatment of prisoners who are being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The vote was 5-4, with the court’s liberal justices in the majority… Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said, “The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.” The court said not only that the detainees have rights […]


Do you think the Canadian Conservative government will approve of this?

Somehow,  I doubt it:

A United Nations committee has reprimanded the U.S. for trying Omar Khadr for war crimes and detaining hundreds of children in Iraq and Afghanistan, when international law requires that they be rehabilitated..“The Committee is seriously concerned that children who were recruited or used in armed conflict, rather than being considered primarily as victims, are classified as ‘unlawful enemy combatants,’ and have been charged with war crimes and subjected to prosecution by military tribunals,” the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child stated in a report released Friday.

It is more likely the Conservative government will either mumble again about US assurances of a “fair trial” and “Khadr is being treated humanely” at Guantanamo, or else they’ll trash the UN through “anonymous Conservative officials”.

Like the Republicans, The Harperite Conservatives  aren’t exactly that keen to follow international law either, or think much of international institutions – even belittling them.  If it’s not ok with Bush and the Repubs, it’s not ok with the Harperite Neo-Cons either.


Supreme Court rules Canada acted illegally against Omar Khadr.

This is a big ruling that just got released that shows while Harper and the Conservatives may be okay with Guantanamo and the fact the process down there breaks international law, the Canadian Supreme Court unanimously begs to differ:

Canadian agents acted illegally when they interrogated Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and handed that intelligence to U.S. authorities, the Supreme Court ruled today in a decision damning the Bush administration’s treatment of foreign terrorism suspects. The unanimous decision released this morning said the federal government now must hand over documents pertaining to those 2003 interrogations by agents with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Foreign Affairs Department, since Canada participated […]


6 feet of blather (or whatever height Pierre is).

Pierre Poilivere (who else?) decided to come out today and issue a statement in the House on Senator Romeo Dallaire’s testimony yesterday (actually, let me amend that – no doubt the PMO sent out Pierre today and asked him to say this and no doubt pre-approved the statement he read) which was worse, if possible  then Jason Kenney’s blathering yesterday on the topic) which more or less equated Dallaire, “a retired general, author, speaker and respected parliamentarian to “a member of the Khadr family”

Dallaire responded in an appropriate manner as shown by Kady here. (Note: this was a response to Jason Kenney’s twisted logic from yesterday’s hearing, but the reply can apply to Pierre’s blurtings today as well)

All I will say further to this is that Pierre Poiliviere couldn’t lick Senator Dallaire’s army boots. Also, while Dallaire may have been very strong and harsh in his criticism of Canada and the US, and while some may disagree with his wording, I don’t feel he should be disciplined for it. Rather, we (as in we, the Liberal Party) should be taking Jason Kenney and Pierre Poiliviere to task for their twisting and distortions of the good Senator’s remarks.


The Supreme Court of Canada agrees to rule on Gitmo’s legality under international law.

Well, this was rather unexpected and big news this morning. This is a front page story in the Toronto Star in today’s edition. As you might know, Omar Khadr is the last remaining Westerner to be held in Guantanamo. He has been held there since 15, without charge or trial – for 6 years. Khadr’s lawyers are already going to be arguing this week in court whether or not they are allowed to gather evidence from the government of Canada that could help in his defence at Guantanamo, and whether or not Canadian officials who travelled to the base to interrogate him in 2003 and 2004 breached his constitutional rights.However, […]

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