By Brian Zinchuk
If you ask any Canadian soldier, sailor or airman how much compensation Omar Khadr should have received from the federal government, given that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled his Charter rights were violated, he could sue, I think you could sum up the dollar value he is due with that old country song: “Here’s a quarter, tell someone who cares.”
If the Canadian government must indeed pay some sort of compensation, a quarter just about sums it up. I would imagine most of the Canadian public, whose outcry has been loud and far reaching, would agree.
Even former prime minister Stephen Harper made public statements about this, an exceedingly rare occasion for a former PM to come out of retirement to criticize a government move.
The National Post’s John Iverson figures Harper, if he was still PM, would have litigated this forever without ever paying a cent to Khadr. Better to pay the money to blood sucking lawyers than someone convicted of terrorism.
Well, sorta convicted. That kangaroo court of a tribunal he went through made Soviet show trials look like justice.
Then there’s the sticky matter of his age. Since he was 15 at the time of his capture, he could legitimately be considered a child soldier.
Some things here that just don’t add up in most people’s common sense computations. How does the federal government shortchange vets of the Afghanistan mission, yet give Khadr the equivalent of a decent Lotto 6/49 payout? Did any of the families of our over 150 war dead in that mission get similar payouts? How about the wounded?
Did any of these thoughts cross the minds of the Supreme Court justices when they sided with Khadr? In their evaluation that he could sue for compensation, did any of them think what Canadian veterans, and their families, might think? Did the red-robed justices consider what this would do for the moral of our military?
I wonder how the discussions are going in the various officers and enlisted messes across the country these days, once a few stiff ones are imbibed.
And child soldier or not, most people would think he should consider himself lucky to be alive at all, having ended up at the business end of the United States’ military pointy end of the spear. For certain, he was fighting against Canadian allies in a war that had invoked the NATO charter. Firing at American soldiers, in this case, was the same as firing at Canadians.
The world turned upside down on Sept. 11, 2001. It’s hard to believe that was nearly 16 years ago now. Things were bound to get messy, and they did. Parents dragging their kids into firefights in farflung corners of the world, NATO invading a south-Asian country, President George Bush declaring war on as nebulous a concept as terror… where does it end?
Is that what the Trudeau cabinet decided? We have to put an end to this messy affair, and be damned with the optics?
It’s going to be damned hard for any Canadian serviceman to look Trudeau in the eye and not want to spit in his face. The sense of betrayal could not be more profound.
Remember Obama was going to close down Guantanamo Bay, where Khadr was incarcerated? How did that go? There is no easy answer. You couldn’t just line Gitmo’s prisoners against a wall and fire, as much as some people might have wanted to do just that.
So Khadr was eventually released, and is back in Canada. He can live his life.
But there’s no way he should have ever been given $10.5 million in compensation. His compensation is being able to breathe Canadian air again. That’s an awful lot more than a lot of other people got post 9/11.
So take your quarter, Mr. Khadr. And quietly disappear into obscurity. The rest of Canada really never, ever wants to hear of your ilk again.
Brian Zinchuk is editor of Pipeline News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.