Dewar on Khadr

Paul Dewar’s scrum after QP today.

Paul Dewar: So you were asking about Khadr.

Question: Yeah, what do you make of Cannon’s remarks? Is he saying that Omar Khadr is responsible for planting bombs and killing Canadian soldiers?

Paul Dewar: Well, that’s what I heard.  What Mr. Cannon seems to be saying is that somehow Omar Khadr is orchestrating things from Guantanamo Bay as if, you know, as if in Guantanamo Bay we have Mr. Khadr masterminding the conflict in Afghanistan.  It’s very strange.  It’s quite bizarre and it’s quite sad.  He seems to be using the tragedy of the loss of lives of Canadian soldiers to defend an indefensible position of the Canadian government not to do its job and repatriate Mr. Khadr.  Look, if he has evidence that Mr. Khadr is somehow responsible for the roadside bombings that are going on in Afghanistan, then bring that evidence forward, bring Mr. Khadr home and try him.  Otherwise, let’s get real here.  You know we are talking about the loss of Canadian soldiers.  Why is that the government and Mr. Cannon is using that in terms of Mr. — the case of Mr. Khadr.  It’s reprehensible and I hope at some point he will apologize for doing that because this is not acceptable.

In the case of Mr. Khadr, we now have the Federal Court, we’ve had the House of Commons, we’ve had — you know the White House for that matter is shutting it down.  They’re investigating the previous government’s use of torture.  The government is in such a small corner now that what we saw today is a desperate grasping of straws and quite frankly I don’t think it worked and I think it’s really sad that the minister tried to use the tragedy of loss of lives of Canadian soldiers and trying to connect it to Mr. Khadr.  It’s absolutely wrong.

Question: How much sympathy do you think there is for Omar Khadr though in the sense that he was in Afghanistan, he was in this firefight?  Do people see —

Paul Dewar: I’m not really sure people really care about the sympathy or not.  It’s about what’s right here.  You know we’re talking about process, due process.  It’s not a popularity contest.  And what we need to see is that we follow due process and I think the due process that the Federal Court has laid out is, lookit, we have a Canadian citizen there, every other country has repatriated their foreign national.  We’ve had someone who was exposed to torture, someone who was not given any representation or even contact until 2004.  Bring this kid home and deal with him here.  That’s what they’re saying.  So this isn’t about, you know, whether Mr. Khadr’s going to win a popularity contest or not.  Quite frankly, I don’t think that is on the table for anyone – certainly not for me.  The question is is Canada doing its job and is the federal government doing its job and what the Federal Court said yesterday it is not doing its job and it’s about time it starts to do so.

Question: We’ve just learned that the federal government will appeal.

Paul Dewar: Yes. 

Question: What do you think about it?

Paul Dewar: Well, first of all, the fact that the federal government is saying today that it’s going to appeal the Federal case is yet another example of it’s showing it’s in deep denial.  It just doesn’t get it.  As I’ve said, every other country has been able to repatriate a foreign national, you know, Australia, UK.  And somehow Canada is saying no, but you know what, we’re different.  It shows that the governments in deep denial.  It shows that they don’t have a leg to stand on, certainly when you saw the display in the House today with the Foreign Affairs Minister.  And I guess at the end of the day what it says is that they think that they can just, if I use a Canadian expression, rag the puck on this, long enough that eventually someone else will make the decision for them.  And if it is appealed — well, it is going to be appealed, it gets to the Supreme Court, it likely will be the Supreme Court who forces them.  What is this government going to do then?  And how much is this going to cost by the way because at the end of the day so much has been spent on this case, the federal government defending an indefensible position, that I think Canadians are going to look at it and say what were you thinking?  And what were you doing?  And why is you were in deep denial on this case when it’s very clear from the Federal Court, the direction that the Obama administration’s going, it’s time to bring this Canadian citizen home and deal with him here.

Question: Just a quick detail.  You said you hope one day Mr. Cannon will apologize for the (inaudible) he made.

Paul Dewar: Yeah, absolutely.

Question: Are you asking for an apology?

Paul Dewar: Well, sure, I’m asking for an apology.  I think what you see here is the minister using the Canadian casualties as — you know he was saying that the tape that he saw of Mr. Khadr “making bombs” is connected somehow to the loss of Canadian lives.  I’m sorry, that’s not on.  That’s not respectable — respectful of the Canadians who have lost their lives and I don’t think it’s appropriate so, yes, he should apologize, absolutely.  Thank you.

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