THE GOVERNMENT'S CASE FOR PAYING $10.5M TO OMAR KHADR - Northgrave/Vachon correspondance


justin trudeau aug 2017

Justin Trudeau

In July I wrote to my Member of Parliament, questioning the size of the settlement. I received the response below from the PM’s office. I think it makes a good case, and does not make it in an overtly partisan way.

First, the Supreme Court decided that Khadr’s rights were violated and that the Government was required to provide a remedy. Now, the Government could have the Department of Justice’s lawyers try to draw out the case as long as possible. But I have yet to hear of anyone who disputes the Government’s claim that it was certain to (eventually) lose.

Second, there is the question of the size of the settlement. A thirteen year lawsuit runs up big bills. Five million for the Government. How much for Mr. Khadr’s legal team? It would have been nice if Mr. Khadr announced that, of the millions he had “cleared”, he wished to make a contribution to a charity of the country that had welcomed him back.

But should we not at least know who should be held responsible for the taxpayers being out $10.5 million plus $5 million in costs? Who signed off on Canadian officials going down to interrogate Omar Khadr? Who was the senior official, or the minister who approved it? There are a lot of leaks coming out of the US government these days, it would be good to see one on this, coming out in up-tight Ottawa.

Here’s the Government’s case:

From the Office of the Prime Minister

On behalf of the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, I would like to thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts regarding the recent court settlement agreement reached between the Government of Canada and Omar Khadr.

The recent settlement deals with the role of Government of Canada officials, Mr. Khadr's continued detention at Guantanamo Bay, and the violation of his rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It does not pass judgement on the events that transpired on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2002. Those events can only be described as tragic, especially for the U.S. Armed Forces personnel and their families whose lives were forever changed that day.

In the case of Mr. Khadr, the Supreme Court of Canada twice ruled that Canadian officials violated his Charter rights while he was detained in Guantanamo Bay. First in 2008, the Supreme Court found that the Canadian officials who participated in interrogating Mr. Khadr at Guantanamo Bay violated Canada's binding international human rights obligations under the Geneva Conventions. Then in 2010, the Supreme Court found that the conduct of Canadian officials in the course of interrogations contributed to Mr. Khadr's ongoing detention, depriving him of his Charter rights.

As a result of the Supreme Court rulings, the Government of Canada was required to provide a remedy. The Government participated in a court-assisted mediation and agreed to a settlement. Since the court actions had already cost the Government of Canada upwards of $5 million dollars and were expected to cost millions more, the settlement put an end to a thirteen-year lawsuit that the Government was certain to lose.

This case is a reminder that the Charter protects all Canadians, without exception, even when it is most uncomfortable. When governments do not protect their citizens' rights, we all end up paying.

The Government of Canada has stated its commitment to always stand up and fiercely defend the rights and freedoms of Canadians and to uphold the Charter ensuring that we are never forced to face another settlement like this one.

Once again, thank you for writing.

J.P. Vachon
Executive Correspondence Services
for the Prime Minister's Office
Services de la correspondance
de la haute direction
pour le Cabinet du Premier ministre

Tags: Brian Northgrave