The Rants of Issachar

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Supreme Court and the Omar Khadr issue

The Globe and Mail reports on the supreme court's recent ruling on the Omar Khadr case.

I reread my old post on Omar Khadr and while I still think as I did then, I think that there's more to say.

Firstly, I can see good points both for and against the court's intrusion into foreign policy. Foreign policy is correctly the domain of the federal government. Courts are not elected bodies and should not typically have any voice in foreign policy. At the same time however, the whole point of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is to place restrictions on the power of government over citizens. And Omar Khard IS a citizen. In retrospect, it's obvious that his parents should never have been allowed to immigrate to our country, much less be made citizens, but Omar Khadr was born in Toronto and he is a citizen.

So while I appreciate that the federal government should be the sole determiner of foreign policy, the court does have a legitimate interest in this case.

But there's an elephant in the room. The federal government does not want to bring Khadr back to Canada because they believe that the Canadian justice system cannot deal with him appropriately; and I think the reason they have not been forced by public opinion to act is that many Canadians agree with them. To put it another way, the federal government thinks that the standards of a Canadian court room are not appropriate for a traitor to our country. They believe, (and they may well be right), that the court will decide that the evidence against Khadr was improperly obtained and release him entirely, even if that evidence shows that he should be convicted. As they don't believe that Canada can deal with Khadr appropriately, they choose have the Americans deal with him instead.

But even assuming that the government is correct, letting the Americans deal with him isn't a solution. It's a refusal to deal with a larger problem because it's a difficult one.

So on to the larger problem. It is likely that most of the evidence against Khadr was improperly obtained according to the standards of a Canadian court. But let us assume, (although we should never do this in any court), that he is guilty of treason and murder. Should he walk free?

Perhaps it's easier to consider that question apart from his case. What if a Canadian murders a someone in Canada, (and he really did), but the evidence that proves this was improperly obtained by the police? Should a murderer walk free because of the misdeeds of the police? I don't think he should. I think he should be punished for his crime, and the police should be punished separately for their misdeeds. (I am obviously assuming that the evidence is not false or planted, but rather was only illegally obtained as in the case of an illegal wiretap or physical evidence obtained after a cross examination where the accused was denied an attorney.) In such a case, the evidence still proves the guilt of the accused and he should not walk free to punish the police for violating the law. This would not be justice.

Whether such a scenario is likely with Mr. Khadr, there is a widespread perception that it is.

We give convicted felons "double credit" for time served awaiting trial. Why is this? If they are guilty, should they not serve their full sentence? If the crown unnecessarily lengthens the trial of a man who is proven innocent, does a reduced for sentence for a different and actually guilty man somehow reduce the harm done to the wrongly accused?

And we dismiss evidence that is tainted not by falsehood, by only by police actions not related to the truth of that evidence.

Is this justice?

Is it things like this that make much of the public largely accept or ignore the Canadian governments refusal to insist on Canadian standards of justice for a traitor? If we trusted Canadian standards of justice would we have any problem with applying them to Omar Khadr?

I think this is ultimately a larger problem than the entire Khadr family.

:: posted by Issachar, 9:02 AM


Posted by: Blogger Ben (The Tiger in Exile)

If he's repatriated, he'll probably walk free.

Which is probably as it should be -- Canadian citizens have a presumption of liberty in their own country.

Me, I'm still in the "let him rot" camp.
Blogger Ben (The Tiger in Exile), at Sat Jan 30, 06:17:00 AM PST  

Posted by: Blogger issachar

I'm not sure what you mean Ben. We assume in our courts that the accused are innocent until proved guilty, but that doesn't mean that non one goes to jail.

Are you saying that you think he's guilty but that they won't be able to prove it in court? If so, do you think it's because the evidence isn't sufficient or do you think that the evidence will be dismissed due to the way it was acquired rather than because it is false?
Blogger issachar, at Sun Jan 31, 06:30:00 AM PST  

Posted by: Anonymous Ethan

Omar Khadr is a traitor to our country, he was supporting our enemy and killed one of our allies a U.S soldier Sgt. Christopher Speer. Khadr is not Canadian as he gave up that when he went to war with the free world supporting the enemy, Khadr should have no rights as a traitor. I hope the U.S tries him just like the Nazi's had their trials after the great war. unfortunately most of the bleeding heart liberals here in Canada would just support letting him walk free if tried in Canada. Traitors only deserve the death penalty. Its bad enough that our soldiers can't fight this war the way it should be done as it would have been over with long ago and we would be welcoming our soldiers home long ago as hero's instead of giving this dirt bag Omar Khadr any attention.
Anonymous Ethan, at Fri Apr 09, 10:31:00 PM PDT  

Posted by: Blogger Issachar


It's a bit silly to say that Khadr should have no rights. Following that through, a man with no rights could simply be summarily killed by the government or detained secretly forever. Now how on earth would that work? Who determines when someone loses all their rights? It couldn't just be on the government's say so or no one's legal rights would mean anything. The system would need oversight. The rights of a man accused in a proceeding where he might lose all his rights in that proceeding clearly defined or it would simply be a rubber stamp after an accusation.

You say Khadr should lose all rights because he killed a US soldier. So we'll need a system to determine if he actually killed that soldier. A system that relied only on accusations would be a disaster. But then this is starting to sound like an actual judicial system rather like the one we have.

This war is being fought quite well by our soldiers. I don't hear any complaints about the rules of engagement from anyone involved. (Not personally, and not in the news.) There doesn't seem to be any difference between the way we are fighting the war and the way that the professionals think we should be fighting the war.
Blogger Issachar, at Sat Apr 10, 07:12:00 AM PDT  

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous

I know many soldiers and they have many complaints talk to the ones who have been their fighting if you have the connections, we also lost General Rick Hillier which was a hard hit to our soldiers. our military's rules of engagement has its weaknesses and the other side uses it to their advantage when they can. Khadr should lose all rights as a Canadian for even being their supporting the other side. he's a traitor and Its War and that's the way it's been since our ancestors fought 1812 ww1 ww2 Korea ect. many people with little Canadian heritage don't get this, their loyalty truly lies elsewhere as in Khadr's case. too much media, liberalism and political involvement keeping the military from doing its job today, But the biggest problem is NATO and their political battles. you can't get real information about what our soldiers think from news it must be first hand.
Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Apr 19, 08:27:00 PM PDT  

Posted by: Blogger Issachar

I don't even know where to begin with your comment anonymous. What an incredibly mangled series of statements...
Blogger Issachar, at Tue Apr 20, 06:23:00 PM PDT  

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