Last week, a U.S. military court sentenced Canadian citizen and former child combatant, Omar Khadr, to 40 years behind bars for killing a U.S. soldier. Upon hearing the verdict, Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney uttered this priceless piece of understatement: “Justice was not served today.”
The fact that the trial of a child soldier, Omar Khadr, has ended with a guilty plea in exchange for his eventual release to Canada does not change the fact that the fundamental principles of law and due process were long since abandoned in Omar’s case.
Indeed. When he was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002, Khadr was just 15 years old, and therefore not prosecutable because under international law he was deemed to be a child combatant. Canada has ratified the UN protocol on child soldiers, this law, even if the U.S. hasn’t.
Yet for seven years he was tortured at the U.S.’s Guantánamo Bay military prison, He was subjected to extreme sleep deprivation and placed in solitary confinement for extended periods. In all this time neither Liberal nor Harperite government came to his aid or demanded his release.
But the abuse of Khadr is more profound than the mere legalities of the UN protocol. Harper’s government, as well as the preceding Liberal government, had a statutory, constitutional duty to petition for Khadr’s extradition to Canada, and their refusal to do so invites questions of whether treason was committed.
In any legitimately constituted democratic country, a citizen’s rights are defined in either common law or a written constitution, and it is common for elected and appointed officials to swear to uphold and defend the constitution. Based on this criterion, Canada does not qualify as a democracy, because the only oath an MP is obliged to swear is to the reigning British monarch:
I, [name], do Solemnly swear (affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors according to law, forever. So help me God.
The oath does not explicitly speak of allegiance to Canada or the Canadian Constitution, though it is implicitly assumed to do so. Yet the absence of an explicit oath to Canada and the Constitution makes punishing unconstitutional or treasonous behaviour almost impossible. The need for a modernized oath “to defend the Constitution and the rights of Canadians against all enemies foreign and domestic” is obvious given that the conduct of Stephen Harper’s government — in the Khadr case among others — is glaringly unconstitutional. Paragraphs 7 to 14 of the Constitution spell out the legal rights that are due every Canadian citizen, including the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment (para 12).
Since a government, at least in theory, exists to serve and protect its citizens, Khadr should have had the full support and protection of his government, but it did not see fit to fight for his extradition on constitutional grounds. Khadr, you see, is a Muslim, and therefore is not entitled to basic legal or humanitarian protection in the minds of Canada’s slavishly pro-Israel sycophants.
The sheer disdain for Canadian law came though clearly on October 26, after Khadr accepted a coerced plea bargain: “plead guilty and you can go home after one year,” was the inducement. (In the U.S. the plea bargain arrangement is one of the greatest abuses of the judicial system, because it induces innocent people to enter false guilty pleas to prevent financial ruin or put an end to institutionalized injustice.)
The idea of being allowed to return home after seven years of torture must have seemed irresistible, but by any moral or legal standard Khadr’s plea was inadmissible. Of course, this fact did not register with Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence “Loose” Cannon, who had only the following to say in the House of Commons.
Mr. Khadr pleaded guilty to murder in violation of the laws of war, attempted murder in violation of the laws of war, as well as providing material support for terrorism and spying, as well as conspiracy…The matter is between the U.S. government and Mr. Khadr’s lawyers and we have no further comment.
By its abandonment of Khadr, one could make the case that Harper’s government is not, strictly speaking, “Canadian” because it actively violated the Constitution to serve the interests of foreign governments, Israel and the U.S. Therefore, the Khadr case should be used to lay charges of treason.
Even the current oath could be invoked because it stipulates allegiance to the Crown according to law, and the Constitution is the foundation of Canada’s laws. According to the government’s own website, the provisions for punishing an MP states:
Should a member violate his oath he would be amenable to the penalty of not being allowed to sit in the House of Commons. He may be suspended from taking part in the sittings while still remaining a Member of Parliament, or, in a case of extreme gravity, a Bill might be passed to annul his election. It may happen, when a state of war exists, that a Member of Parliament makes, either outside or on the floor of the House, statements detrimental to Canada and favourable to the enemy. This would be in violation of this oath because allegiance to the King means allegiance to the Country, and the offence would be liable to punishment by the house. The power of dealing with treason is inherent in the Parliament of every country.
Is there a politician angry enough and brave enough to demand an oath for our times to bring Canadian sovereignty to Ottawa? Here’s a suggestion:
I, [name], do Solemnly swear (affirm) that I will defend the Constitution of Canada and the rights of Canadian citizens against all enemies foreign and domestic, and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors according to law, forever.