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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.


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

  • Lt.C. Ralph Peters on Omar Khadr Gitmo Tape: “We should have killed that punk on a battlefield where it was legal to do so!”

    Watch video at

  • Kursk

    Jimbobby..Canada may be a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, but Al-queda and the Taliban, as ersatz stateless combatants, are not.

    Geneva conventions apply to uniformed enemy combatants of which Mr.Khadr was certainly not.

    He would be considered a non uniformed enemy combatant, and as such could have been subject to summary field execution for his actions, which were highly partisan and in fact against the Geneva conventions.

  • Ron

    Other democracies have the same right to construct and design their legal system as Canadians have to construct and design ours. To demand that everyone conform to Canadian views of justice is simply arrogant. As far as accusing Harper of showing contempt for justice, may I refer you to all the Liberals who advocate the denial of PM Harper’s right to justice before the courts by accusing him of being a bully or demanding he stop civil procedings against Liberals; may I refer you to Mr.Dion calling the legal action, taken by the small business owner of Green Shift against the Liberals, deplorable. Seems whenever anyone wants to exercise their rights and seek justice it is the Liberals who show contempt for the process.

  • Why would Chretien, Martin and now Harper all be unwilling to help?

    I think it boils down to an unwillingness to ruffle American feathers. Why did we lay down on the friendly fire incidents when US fliers disobeyed orders and killed Canadians?

    In the wake of 9/11 and GWB’s “with us or with the terrorists” mantra, governments were wary of crossing Bush. Eventually, other western governments repatriated their Gitmo detainees. Canada is the only country not to do so. I reckon that means we’re the least inclined to ruffle GWB’s feathers. Nothing more than obsequious ass-kissing.

    I agree with Bill G. It’s disappointing. I think we might have agreed on something else once.


  • billg

    There has to be more to this then meets the eye of any partisan. Why would Chretien, Martin and now Harper all be unwilling to help? If the facts are what the media say they are, then, this young man should be back in Canada, but, he should have been back in 2004. I’m disappointed in Harper as I am the other two previous PM’s. This young man was a child soldier and it would be a great show of faith on our part to work on his behalf. Sometime’s politics are f’n ugly. billg

  • Whooee! While it’s Harper right to be contemptuous of Khadr, it’s not his right to be contemptuous of the law. Khadr was a child soldier when he was captured. Canada has signed the Geneva Conventions. Harper does not represent the majority of Canadians and his willingness to go along with the illegal detainment of a Canadian child soldier is not leadership.


  • Ah typical cry of the Con apologists:

    It didn’t happen here and it wasn’t that bad.

    Never mind that Khadr has been held without trial for 6 years, only charged recently and is facing a “trial” under a system that would make the Soviets jealous – no fair rules of evidence, no habeas corpus, no access to a lawyer….

    All that is OK to do to somebody, but Ezra gets one complaint to a tribunal and Canada is slipping into Soviet Communism again.

    Not too hypocritical of you fellas is it?

  • evans

    From what I gathered from the Mop and Pail this morning the so called torture consisted of changing his sleeping arrangements every three hours.My wife does the same thing to me whenever we get into an argument.Do you think I have a case?

  • Kevin

    Khadr was not arrested in Canada. When you travel abroad you are subject to the rules of the country you are traveling in. There are many Canadians in jail in foreign countries that are far more worthy of our attention then he is.

  • […] Khadr’s case is the latest example of an approach by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tory government that has left Canadians dismayed about their image abroad _ one they feel was already tainted by Harper’s reluctance to sign the Kyoto Protocol; his reticence to stop Canadian troops from transferring Afghan prisoners to local officials following reports that they were being tortured; and his enforcement of security certificates that enables the government to hold terror suspects indefinitely without charges. […]

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