Rae on Khadr

Bob Rae’s scrum after QP today.

Question: Hello.

Bob Rae: Good morning.

Question: The statement by Mr. Cannon today introducing new elements, the death of Canadian soldiers.  What do you make of this?  What’s going on?

Bob Rae: Well first of all, I mean I think it’s extraordinary to conduct a trial on the floor of the House of Commons.  If the Government of Canada has new evidence with respect to Mr. Khadr, whether he was, when he 12, 13, 14 or 15, I would hope that they would think that that was even more reason for Mr. Khadr to be brought home and tried in Canada. 

Question: Are you suggesting that they’re suggesting new evidence or new (off microphone)?

Bob Rae: I don’t know what Mr., I don’t know what Mr. Cannon is doing.  You better ask him.  He’s the one who introduced this.  He’s the one who in response to a question about the decision of Justice O’Reilly referred to footage that he’d just seen on television, a Minister of the Crown carrying out a one-man prosecution against Mr. Khadr on the floor of the House of Commons.  We have courts for this kind of thing in Canada.  We don’t try people on the floor of the House of Commons.  We have courts that do this job and Mr. Justice O’Reilly of the Federal Court has said that the court that Mr. Khadr should be facing is in Canada, not in the United States because of the mistreatment that Mr. Khadr has received in Guantanamo. 

You know, this government is essentially trying to wag the dog and change the story and trying to rile up opinion against Mr. Khadr because of some footage that they’ve got and then bring in the name of the, of the young woman who was killed last week in Afghanistan as if Mr. Khadr had, you know, what, what are they saying?  What is Mr. Cannon doing?  It’s a classic McCarthyite tactic.  And it is not the way we do, should be doing business or politics in Canada and I take, if Mr. Cannon says well, all I was saying was these are serious charges, you say fine, they’re serious charges that should be faced in Canada.  No one’s denying that the charges against Mr. Khadr are serious.  What Mr. Justice O’Reilly is saying, what the Federal Court is saying is that the evidence of mistreatment in Guantanamo is such that he should be brought home.  And that seems to me the argument that Mr. Cannon has to face and hasn’t faced that argument.  He’s decided not to face up to it. 

Question: Do you think, do you think this is an effort to bolster (off microphone) against public opinion on Khadr’s repatriation?

Bob Rae: No, no kidding.

Question: Or, or are they trying to frame it for, you know, perhaps other charges that will be pursued in this case?

Bob Rae: I don’t know.  I mean, you, we will all guess forever on the motive.  All I know is I know perfectly well when a, when a political smear campaign is being carried on.  Mr. Cannon just launched it today in the House of Commons.  And I’m saying we don’t do that in Canada.  We have courts that deal with cases and the decision of Mr. Justice O’Reilly was that the evidence of mistreatment of Mr. Khadr and other prisoners in Guantanamo was such that he should be tried in Canada and the Canadian government should be urging his repatriation.  No one is talking about underestimating the seriousness of the charges against Mr. Khadr.  No one is advocating on, on behalf of what he, of what he is alleged to have done.  No one in the Canadian Parliament would ever do that. 

What we are saying is that there is a serious decision of the court, Federal Court and Mr. Cannon has chosen to change the subject and frame the discussion in a completely different way. 

Question: En français M. Rae.  Qu’est-ce qui explique les commentaires de Cannon (hors microphone)?

Bob Rae: Je pense que M. Cannon essaie de changer complètement la, la réalité de la situation.  Il y a personne qui nie que les accusations contre Mr. Khadr sont sérieux.  Nous sommes tous d’accord que les allégations contre lui sont sérieuses.  On est tous d’accord.  La question c’est est-ce que c’est une poursuite qui devrait être tenue au Canada ou à Guantanamo.  Et nous, nous disons écoutez, le juge O’Reilly a dit clairement que tout ce qu’on voit avec le traitement de, de M. Khadr à Guantanamo veut dire que c’est la responsabilité, c’est le devoir du gouvernement du Canada d’insister sur son retour au Canada pour que nous, on fait face à la situation au Canada.  C’est tout. 

Question: Qu’est-ce que, quelles sont vos réactions?  On sait qu’il tentait de faire des associations entre les morts canadiens en Afghanistan et M. Khadr? 

Bob Rae: Franchement, je crois que c’est, c’est, je crois que c’est une, c’est honteux et franchement, c’est pas seulement ça.  C’est que on n’est pas, on fait pas des procès au, à la chambre des communes.  Ce sont des juges qui le font, ce sont des cours qui le font.  Les cours ont des responsabilités et ce qu’a dit M. O’Reilly, c’est que les cours canadiennes qui doivent prendre responsabilité pour la situation et le gouvernement du Canada a le devoir d’assister sur son retour.

Question: Does the government have the right to take into account the severity of any crimes you’re accused of committing before they decide to intervene and advocate for your procedural rights?

Bob Rae: We, we have a decision, this isn’t about Bob Rae’s opinion or with (inaudible) respect, Mr. Cannon’s opinion.  This is about a decision of the Federal Court.  The court has made a decision.  The court is making that decision on the basis of, of evidence before it, saying the evidence of mistreatment of Mr. Khadr is such that the federal government has a responsibility to, to advocate his return to Canada.  It’s that simple.  It’s not about my opinion or anybody else’s opinion.  It’s about what, what a court has just said.  And the response, to which Mr. Cannon says well, I have, I watched TV last night and I saw these terrible things and… instead of saying that’s really not, that’s really not the point.  I mean, and to bring up the name of, of Canadians who’ve died in Afghanistan is, is, is no doubt it’s politically evocative for Mr. Cannon to do it, but it’s also unfair to everybody else because essentially the question is isn’t it an obligation on the part of the Government of Canada to listen carefully to the process of the rule of law in Canada and to understand that the mistreatment of somebody in Guantanamo does mean that he should be tried in Canada. 

There are serious allegations against Mr., Mr. Khadr.  There’s no doubt about that.  And it’s the seriousness of the allegations that leads me to believe that I want to see him charged in Canada and facing justice in Canada in whatever form that will take, taking full account of his age and all the other circumstances of what took place. But I’m not the judge and jury with respect to Mr. Khadr and with great respect to Mr. Cannon, neither is he.  He’s not a judge and he’s not the jury.  Let, let the legal process take effect and let’s show some respect for it. 

Question: (off microphone) Mr. Cannon’s political sideshow aside, does the government have an obligation to appeal this given that Justice O’Reilly even admitted it’s an oddity for judges to wade into foreign policy areas in areas of executive prerogative?

Bob Rae: Well I mean, I mean, my short answer would be Mr. O’Reilly, it seems to me, his judgement is one that needs to be respected, it needs to be taken seriously but I think, I think it adds, to put it mildly, considerable weight to the argument that it’s, it’s not incumbent on the Government of Canada to, to insist on Mr. Khadr’s return and, and that whatever charges are to be faced and should be dealt with should be dealt with in Canada. 

Question: (off microphone) executive prerogative in (off microphone) into foreign affairs?

Bob Rae: Well, with great respect, we, we live under the rule of law.  Mr. Justice O’Reilly made his decision and all executive decisions are subject to the rule of law.  This is not a decision that, that is absent the rule of law and it’s not a decision that should go outside the, the ambit of the rule of law.  All decisions of this kind are subject to judicial review.  It’s entirely appropriate. 

Question: M. Rae, on vient de nous dire que c’est officiel, le gouvernement va aller en appel du jugement.  Ça vous fait quoi d’entendre ça?

Bob Rae: Ça prolonge, tout ce que ça veut dire, c’est que ça représente une prolongation de la situation.  Nous devons plutôt respecter je pense la réalité de la situation.  Étant donné tous les événements qui ont lieu aux États-Unis, je viens de retourner de Washington, la question du traitement des prisonniers est une question très, très vive au sein de la politique américain.  Et nous avons des responsabilités importantes comme canadiens.  Nous avons toujours dit, comme en opposition, que c’est absolument essentiel pour que M. Khadr est donné l’opportunité d’avoir un procès au Canada.  C’est un citoyen canadien. 

Question: M. Rae, juste sur la question, la façon dont il a utilisé  le nom de Karine Blais, de jouer sur les émotions, de parler des funérailles aujourd’hui, sur l’élégance du geste, sur elle en particulier, ce sont ses funérailles, c’est aujourd’hui qu’on l’enterre et lui…?

Bob Rae: C’est honteux.  Franchement, je dirais que c’est une rhétorique absolument honteux. M. Cannon devrait avoir honte d’avoir pris une telle approche parce que il n’y a personne dans la chambre des communes qui nie combien les allégations contre M. Khadr sont sérieuses.  Il n’y a personne qui ne partage pas l’émotion des familles pour la perte des, des jeunes canadiens et canadiennes qui ont perdu leurs vies en sacrifice pour, pour la sécurité du Canada.  Mais franchement, la difficulté que nous avons c’est que ça ne veut pas dire que dans les cas difficiles comme le cas de M. Khadr, nous avons toujours la responsabilité d’insister sur la justice sur les procès et d’insister sur les responsabilités canadiennes pour les citoyens canadiens. 

Et je crois que c’est important que nous gardons toujours l’importance de ces questions en dépit des commentaires de M. Cannon. 

Question: Merci.