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Ignatieff to raise the issue of Omar Khadr with Obama

I posted an item a couple of days ago saying that I hoped if Harper wasnt going to raise the issue of Omar Khadr with Obama, (and with his public relations hack Kory Teneycke claiming that Obama was unlikely to raise it either) that Ignatieff would do so in the 10 minutes meeting he gets to have with the President.

Good news on that front today:

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff will raise the fate of Omar Khadr β€” the only Canadian imprisoned in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay β€” when he meets Thursday with U.S. President Barack Obama. The Liberal leader has taken on a campaign, along with […]


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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