Stephen Harper is a man obsessed. He's obsessed by Alberta bitumen. He's obsessed by the Liberal Party -- particularly the name Trudeau. And he's obsessed with punishment -- most particularly, the punishment of Omar Khadr. Gerry Caplan writes:
Under the Geneva Conventions, which govern the rules of war, soldiers who kill other soldiers in battle are not committing crimes. Otherwise, how could we have civilized wars? It was only some time after 9/11 that George W. Bush unilaterally decided that al-Qaeda fighters weren’t legitimate wartime combatants entitled to this protection. So Mr. Khadr was found guilty of a crime that wasn’t a crime when it happened – if it happened. And he remains the only person in modern history to be tried for killing another soldier during a battle.
But, as his serial defeats in the Supreme Court make clear, Mr. Harper has nothing but contempt for legal definitions and codes. Some way or other, he is determined to get Mr. Khadr:
In virtually all Harper endeavours, through the reams of predictable propaganda there emerges a particular spin line that is unfathomable to normal people. This has now happened on the Khadr file, as articulated in recent weeks by Public Security Minister Steven Blaney. As if labelling him a terrorist murderer is not enough, Minister Blaney has taken to impugning Mr. Khadr’s integrity. Mr. Khadr, it seems, has not been honourable in his dealings with an honourable government.
For example, in trying to explain to the CBC’s Evan Solomon why the government keeps challenging Mr. Khadr’s right to be free on bail, Minister Blaney said this: “Someone who pleaded guilty to a horrible crime…this was the basis on which Omar Khadr was brought back into the country. He said: ‘Okay, I’m going to do eight years for those horrible crimes for which I have pleaded guilty, behind bars’, and now he is questioning – challenging – the commitment he made, and he was allowed in Canada on that basis and now he is challenging that position.”
A country which hands over the reins of power to a man driven by obsessions and not evidence is in for a very rough ride.