BTC: Omar Khadr Outrage Watch

The NDP’s Joe Comartin, speaking at a Feb. 25 press conference alongside the Bloc’s Vivian Barbot and Liberal MP Dominic Leblanc: “We did not play our proper role in protecting Mr. Khadr’s right. And this press conference … is our signal to the Canadian people, and more importantly, to the Canadian government, that we are not going to remain silent anymore.”Total number of questions asked by the newly unsilent opposition in the three weeks since: Three.The Bloc’s Caroline St. Hilaire asked one question on Feb. 26. Pauline Picard, also of the Bloc, asked the other two questions on Mar. 14. 

For the sake of posterity, here are those exchanges.

St. Hilaire: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the three opposition parties, with the support of Mr. Kuebler, Omar Khadr’s lawyer, denounced the attitude of the Conservative government, which is neglecting its duty to protect this child soldier, who is being held in Guantanamo Bay. In accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed and ratified by Canada, the government must immediately demand that the United States send Omar Khadr back to Canada to be tried under Canadian law. What is the Minister of Foreign Affairs waiting for to demand his return to Canada?

Helena Guergis: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member will know that Mr. Khadr has been in prison since 2002. Four of those years were under the previous Liberal government. I have also assured the House on several occasions that Mr. Khadr is being treated humanely.


Picard: Mr. Speaker, in the case of Omar Khadr, the young Canadian held in Guantanamo, we have learned that the American sergeant who interrogated him is before a court martial accused of abusing detainees during interrogations. It is even suspected that he caused the death of one of them. We know that, during his detention, Mr. Khadr was subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment. What is the government waiting for to bring him back to Canada for his trial?

Deepak Obhrai: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Khadr faces very serious charges. The Government of Canada has sought and received assurances that Mr. Khadr is being treated humanely. Department officials have carried out several welfare visits with Mr. Khadr and will continue to do so.

Picard: Mr. Speaker, we have also learned that an American army officer allegedly changed a report in order to blame young Mr. Khadr. The first report, the original one, said that the assailant had been killed. Mr. Khadr was therefore not involved in this case. In view of the facts, there is no reason for the government to wait. When will it take action to bring Omar Khadr home?

Deepak Obhrai: Mr. Speaker, as I stated, Mr. Khadr faces serious charges. At the current time, the case is going on, the legal process is on and appeals are on, but from Canada’s point of view, we will continue visiting Mr. Khadr to see to his well-being. I can assure members that we have asked the U.S. to treat him humanely.

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