Former Guantanamo inmate and Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, the youngest prisoner to be held there, has been granted a $10.5 million settlement by Justin Trudeau’s government, and Canadians are not happy about it. A recent poll shows 70 percent of Canadians disapprove of the payout, and the settlement has created an uproar on both sides of the political fence.
At 15, Khadr was arrested and captured in Afghanistan by US forces during a gun fight. Prosecutors say he threw a grenade that killed Sergeant Christopher Speer. He was charged and convicted of war crimes, and held for ten years in Guantanamo Bay. He is the only child in modern history to be charged and convicted of a war crime.
Canadian news commentary has reached fever pitch, with dueling op-eds denouncing or supporting the settlement. Conservatives and liberals alike oppose it, and the reaction has raised questions about Canadian values, and resurrected debate on the politics of fear, the never-ending “war on terror” and Islamophobia.
Conservative Member of Parliament Peter Kent described the payout as a “cynical subversion of Canadian principles.” And the leader of the conservatives questioned why Canada was apologising to a “convicted terrorist.” But the founder of the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative said that “Canada failed Omar Khadr and we owed him compensation and an apology.”
In this episode of the The Stream, we’ll look at what’s behind the reaction on both sides, and explore what the settlement means to Canadians.
On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Director, Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto
John Ibbitson @JohnIbbitson
Writer at large, The Globe and Mail
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