The Fourth of July is Independence Day in the United States. It was also on July 4th this week when it was reported that the Liberal Government had agreed to apologize and pay $10.5 Million to Omar Khadr. For those of you unfamiliar with Omar Khadr, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison for participating in an al-Qaeda sponsored war crime after admitting to killing US Army combat medic Sgt. Christopher Speer.
This decision by the Liberals to potentially pay in excess of $10 Million to Omar Khadr has created the largest amount of negative feedback and in many cases outrage, of any issue I have come across during my time in elected office. The questions I most frequently am asked is why did the Liberals offer this deal to Omar Khadr and what can be done to stop it?
At this point the Liberals have yet to formally confirm or explain the reasons behind this reported $10.5 Million payment. What we do know is that the Supreme Court was of the opinion that Omar Khadr’s human rights were violated during the time he was in prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and that Canadians officials were aware of this.
It should be noted that the Supreme Court rulings on Omar Khadr’s human rights violations did not include any financial compensation. As a result Omar Khadr had commenced legal action against the Canadian Government suggesting it should be held responsible for the treatment he received at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. For reasons yet unknown rather than vigorously fight this lawsuit it is reported that the Liberals have instead offered $10.5 Million and an apology to Omar Khadr to settle this legal claim.
In a related action, the widow of the US Army Combat medic killed by Omar Khadr had filed a legal action in 2015 against Mr.Khadr and was ultimately successfully awarded $134.2-million in damages. It has also been reported the widow may file a claim in Canada in an effort to have the $134 million judgement enforced in Canada thus potentially impacting the payment of the $10.5 Million to Omar Khadr.
So back to the original question, what can be done to stop this? In this case, only the Liberal Government can stop this agreement and related $10 Million payment from going forward. If that were to occur the legal case would most certainly continue. Most of the documented involvement of Canadian officials was between the years 2003 and 2004 under the Liberal Governments of former Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien and later Paul Martin. If this case were to move forward it is conceivable the former actions of these governments would be heavily scrutinized.
For the record, I was a member of the Conservative caucus in the previous 41st Parliament where the Conservative Government staunchly opposed the payment of any funds to Omar Khadr. It should also be pointed out that some do support the payment of these funds to Omar Khadr and have applauded the Liberals for offering a settlement as opposed to more litigation. My question this week is do you support or oppose the $10.5 Million payment to Omar Khadr?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.