In the Case of Omar Khadr….

The most polarizing discussion taking place amongst Canadians these days is the case of Omar Khadr. Canadians are at odds about the federal government’s recent settlement payout to Khadr, but many of those people are sadly misinformed and show no inclination to actually examine the facts of the Khadr case.

I must say I am rather saddened by how uninformed Canadians are on the subject, but that hasn’t stopped them from having an opinion, or from attempting to shove that opinion down the throats of those who have examined the facts, and come to the opposite conclusion. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind people with a differing opinion, they have a right to freedom of speech, this is Canada, and our Charter of Rights affords us certain freedoms after all. What I have a problem with, is people who form an opinion based on their personal feelings about what they THINK they know instead of on the actual facts of the case.

You see the $10.5 million paid to Khadr was actually a settlement in a lawsuit against the Canadian Government. In 2004 Khadr filed a $20 million lawsuit against the federal government for violation of Khadr’s Charter Rights. It was a suit the federal government had no hopes of winning, so they settled (saving Canadian taxpayers $9.5 million in the process.)

Many Canadians seem to be laboring under the misconception that we paid a terrorist for his crimes. That is not the case, we paid a Canadian citizen because our government left him incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay where he was tortured and mistreated until he confessed to crimes he may not have committed. When you add in the fact that Khadr was in fact legally a minor at the time of his incarceration, you realize that our government abandoned a Canadian CHILD to be mistreated by the US military.

Whatever Khadr may or may not have done while forced to fight has no bearing on the lawsuit settled by the federal government. While many people say they don’t care if Khadr’s human rights were violated because he is a killer and should have no rights, that is not the way the world works. Khadr has never been proven guilty in a court of law because Khadr has never been given a fair trial for the “war crimes” he is accused of. The Supreme Court has agreed (on three separate occasions) that Khadr’s Charter Rights were violated, and had Khadr’s lawsuit against the federal government gone to a hearing Khadr would have won. Anticipating this the federal government settled with Khadr for a lesser amount. From a legal standpoint, a smart move.

Of course, as soon as you label someone a terrorist, people decide that person should not have rights. The problem with this philosophy is that putting a label on someone is not the same as proving them guilty. We believe that an accused is innocent until proven guilty, but no one has ever proven Khadr’s guilt. Forcing someone to agree to a plea deal in order to receive decent treatment is not proving their guilt. It is basically the act of creating a guilty person so you don’t have to actually prove their guilt in a court of law. This method works particularly well if you are given years in which to abuse and torture the accused into submission.

So, those who hate the liberal party (and are somehow ignorant of the fact that this case is a leftover from the Harper era), those who were unaware the Canadian Charter of Rights existed, those who form an opinion based on nothing more than reading a headline, and those who can’t be bothered to consider the actual facts of the case are “enraged” by the governments settlement with Khadr. That is no surprise, people who are uninformed tend to take sides quickly without knowing all the facts, or caring to know all the facts. Sticking to their uninformed opinion is easier if they completely ignore the facts and substitute their own version. These people need to grow up and learn that the legalities of a situation and the moralities of a situation are NEVER the same thing.

As for Omar Khadr, I hope that he can move on from here and become a productive citizen. We may never know if he is guilty or innocent of the crimes of which he is accused, and given that fact we as Canadians need to move on, and allow Omar Khadr to do the same.

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