By: Laura Steiner
There isn’t a straight answer for the Omar Khadr mess. At age 15, he killed an American army medic in a firefight in Afghanistan with a grenade. He was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay where he was allegedly tortured. He is now 30, living in Alberta. Numerous media reports claim he’s studying to be a nurse. In 2013 he went to court for the right to sue the Canadian government for $20 million and won. Word leaked out the Trudeau government will apologize to Khadr for his imprisonment, and abuse suffered there, and strike a settlement of $10.5 million.
There are two arguments here. There’s the easy one against it full of anger, and vengeance. The one that says his family is a horror show that stands against everything this country stands for. His mother quoted as saying she wishes her sons died in Afghanistan. The father was said to be one Bin Laden’s top financiers. Khadr was at the firefight, he threw the grenade that killed Sergeant Christopher Speer, a US Army medic. At the best this is murder, at worst terrorism. Why should we give this man another chance? Why should we give him money, and a clear slate? It makes sense to give him nothing. Let him continue living his life, fading into obscurity.
The harder argument is the one in favour. Khadr was forced into a terror camp as a child by his father. Exposed to that ideology at a young age he knew nothing else. Was he considered a child-soldier? It depends on how you define it. The International Commission of the Red Cross defines it as: “A ‘child associated with an armed force or armed group’ refers to any person below 18 years of age who is or who has been recruited or used by an armed force or armed group.” Under this definition, Omar Khadr could qualify. Having been born here, Khadr is a Canadian citizen, and entitled to the same rights as everyone else. He was put in a place meant for adults, and abused. Since his parole, he has worked to have a better life. He reportedly is studying nursing in Edmonton, and obeying his parole conditions. Doesn’t he deserve a second chance? Shouldn’t Canada show some of that hallmark generosity to one of its own people?
There is no winning formula when dealing with Omar Khadr. Both sides have convincing arguments. If the Trudeau government compensates him, they’re the administration that apologized to a terrorist, and paid him off. If they don’t, they might be more popular. But then they could be seen as betraying Liberal values, and eventually be forced into compensating him by the courts. It’s a classic no-win situation.