Rumors of a possible deal between the American State Department and Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen currently held in the Guantanamo Bay detention center, would seem to indicate that his seven year imprisonment is drawing to a close. The stain upon the soul of Canada resulting from this, however, will endure far beyond what may be the conclusion of this travesty of justice.
In exchange for a prison sentence of eight years, seven of which will be served in Canada, Omar Khadr will plead guilty to all of the charges brought against him. This deal is interesting regarding the degree that the American government shamelessly contravenes international law and ignores Omar Khadr's rights as a human being and as a Canadian citizen.
At the time of his capture, Omar Khadr was 15, which would make him a child soldier if he did in fact throw the grenade which killed an American soldier. From labelling the usage of child soldiers as the "worst form of child labor," passing legislation domestically regarding the issue and working internationally to prevent it and rehabilitate those affected by it, the American government appears to have a firm stance on the issue. Unless, that is, there's the possibility that one of these child soldiers killed an American. If that's the case, America demands exceptions.
The vindictive nature of the American government's persecution of Omar Khadr is clear. They could have left him to die, buried in the rubble of a bombed out building with two massive gun shot wounds in his shoulder. Let's face it, we probably wouldn't have heard about it. But they didn't. Instead, he was saved to be incarcerated, tortured and paraded before all, proclaiming this is the fate of those who enrage America.
The State Department has added another clause to the deal, one that prevents Khadr from profiting from his crimes. By accepting this deal, Omar Khadr relinquishes any right to pursue legal action against the American government for any mistreatment he suffered at its hands in the highly reputable detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Nothing shows a clear conscience and surety of righteousness better than preventing any form of legal recourse after the fact.
What makes this situation even more heartwarming is the response of our esteemed leader, Prime Minister Steven Harper. Has Harper sought the return of Omar Khadr, as he is obliged to do as the elected representative of the citizenry of Canada? No. Has Harper buried his head in the sand, completely ignoring this injustice and not involving the Canadian government to any degree? No. He has sought to prevent the repatriation of Omar Khadr to Canada, to keep a Canadian citizen unlawfully locked up in a foreign country. By spending more than $1.3 million in legal fees against Omar Khadr, our federal government has declared their support for the imprisonment and mistreatment of Canadian citizens who get in the way of their sucking up to America. The entity to which Canadians are supposed to owe unconditional loyalty and allegiance feels that it doesn't owe you the same.
There's a catch with the aforementioned deal though -- Harper has to agree to it or Omar Khadr remains in American custody. He has made it quite clear he doesn't want Khadr back. He has pawned off all responsibility to America, saying that it is entirely their call and not in anyway the concern of Canada.
We wonder why the world views Canada differently than it has previously. We wonder why we didn't get that UN Security Council seat. We wonder why the Maple Leaf on our backpacks and luggage doesn't get us the same warm welcome abroad that it used to. It is because of actions like this. Through apathy and political ignorance we've elected people who are hell-bent on destroying everything Canada is supposed to be -- a champion of social justice and equality -- and remaking it in the image of our southern neighbor. If this trend is allowed to continue, don't expect any honours or love coming Canada's way, we've done nothing to earn them.