We’re still in the early innings, but it would appear that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pieties about the sanctity of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms aren’t quite a match for the blowback over his government’s decision to cough up $10.5 million and an apology in a secret deal with Guantanamo Bay’s loudly-argued-about former inmate, Omar Khadr.
It turns out that Canadians are so put off by the arrangement — 71 per cent of respondents in an in-depth Angus Reid public opinion survey say it was the wrong thing to do — that three in five Liberals, even, agree with Conservative leader Andrew Scheer that the case should have been fought in court, to the end.
Unsurprisingly, Conservative-leaning voters are the most likely to express revulsion about the deal, which was leaked to the news media last week. The agreement settles a lawsuit Khadr’s lawyers filed in 2004 alleging that Canadian officials collaborated with U.S. military interrogators at Guantanamo in a way that “offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects,” in the words of a 2010 Supreme Court of Canada ruling.
The Angus Reid poll found 91 per cent of Conservative voters said the Trudeau government did the “wrong thing” in settling with Khadr. But 61 per cent of Liberals took the same view, and 64 per cent of New Democrats also agreed that the government “should have fought the case and left it to the courts to decide.” That is precisely what Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has been saying.
The public mood should not be expected to soften unless Trudeau manages to dispel the impression that the deal was a kind of hush-money arrangement, designed to make the Khadr problem go away and head off the scandal that would inevitably emerge from the evidence in a hard-fought court trial...