The Khadr settlement: Canada broke the law, Canada pays. How is this complicated?

Editorial | by Stephen Whitworth

I should just accept at this point that I’m hopelessly naive.

I say this because I was shocked at the backlash to Omar Khadr’s settlement with the Canadian government.

I wouldn’t have guessed the majority of Canadians — 71 per cent, according to an Angus Reid poll — would balk at a $10 million settlement given to a Canadian captured as a teenager in a war zone who was later abused in a U.S. gulag after Stephen Harper’s government abandoned him.

Here’s a hot take: if you don’t wanna pay settlements, follow the law. Governments that play fast and loose with rules — for instance, abusing imprisoned citizens to get information for the CIA — are gonna lose Supreme Court rulings, and sooner or later they’ll have to pull out their chequebooks and reach for your tax dollars. Make it sooner and it’ll be cheaper, and kudos to the Liberals for doing that.

So what’s the deal? Don’t Canadians like laws, respect human rights and support pragmatic action?

Seventy-one per cent of us in this case, apparently not so much.

We ought to smarten up.

Then again, it’s hard to solely blame Canadians who’ve been infected by the garbage right-wing rage-sputum from conservative politicians who have been passing anger off as an ideology since the ’90s. From Islamophobia to crime hysteria, from union-bashing to protestor stomping, and from science heckling to art-hating, demagogic horseshit has been the go-to gimmick for politicians from Mike Harris to Ralph Klein to Stephen Harper to Rob Ford to Andrew Scheer and now, sadly more and more every week, Brad Wall.

It’s a simple plan and it works: find a scapegoat, whip up outrage and then capitalize on in votes and donations.

It’s a trick and people fall for it. Just look at Trump! I guess that means conservatives will keep doing it.

As for Khadr? He was a kid, not a terrorist. And I’m not being a bleeding heart here. I despise the Taliban (who, like Saddam Hussein, used to be American allies against the Soviets). Fundamentalist, hard-line interpretations of any religion stink.

But to depict this teenager captured in a war zone a terrorist — as conservatives continue to do — is just inaccurate.

We don’t even know for sure Khadr’s guilty of throwing the grenade that killed a U.S. medic — confessions from kids in gulags are inherently sketchy.

I want Canada to follow its laws and treat prisoners of war humanely. If a Canadian is found guilty of war crimes after being convicted in a fair trial (unlike what Khadr got), by all means send them to prison.

I think most people reading that last sentence would agree with it.

Then again, I’m pretty naive.

If you can’t stop being mad at Omar Khadr, maybe at least do me one favour: when you hear politicians and commentators demonizing him, ask yourself what’s in it for them. Because I think they know full well why they do it. They know that getting Canadians worked up over bogus narratives is the only way they can get support.

Because frankly, today’s conservative politicians and commentators just don’t have much in the way of good ideas that benefit Canadians.

And they damn well know it.

Is It Hot In Here Or Is It Just Science?

Speaking of topics conservatives are on the wrong side of: it’s nice to see a Saskatchewan researcher get some attention for his work on climate change. University of Regina professor David Sauchyn is one of the contributors to an international database on historical temperatures that’s helping scientists better understand changes in the planet’s climate.

“We haven’t discovered anything new, it’s just that we presented such a conclusive set of facts that it’s virtually impossible to argue anything else,” Sauchyn told CBC Saskatchewan in a July 16 story that you should read.

Well yeah, if we believe that arguments are based on “facts”, that’s true. It’s crazy to deny global warming.

I guess that means Saskatchewan conservatives who are afraid they might need to change their opinions don’t have anything to worry about. ❧