Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 5, No. 7, August 2017
By Kyle Pizzey
As a veteran and someone who has spent a great deal of time in Afghanistan both in and out of uniform, the recent decision by the Canadian government to award Omar Khadr a substantial cash settlement is frustrating and is a perversion of the Canadian justice system.
To provide context, these are the critical points from the Stipulation of Fact signed by Khadr in 2010.
Afghan and US forces asked the occupants of the compound including Khadr to come out. When they refused, two Afghan soldiers entered, again asking the occupants to come out. At this point, the Afghan soldiers were killed. Khadr was offered the chance to exit with women and children however, refused to do so. Khadr understood that he would have suffered no repercussions from al-Qaeda if he had left peacefully and while other occupants accepted this offer and were escorted to safety – he chose to stay and fight. Khadr admits to throwing the grenade that killed SFC Speer (Sergeant First Class) and did so when he knew the Americans were not preparing to attack him or engage him.
He is a self-admitted terrorist, an admission made with full access to legal council and with the protection of Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. Acceptance of his crimes was reiterated again in 2015 during a CBC documentary after he was repatriated to Canada. He did not dispute this fact at the time, has made no effort since then to legally dispute it. The Supreme Court of Canada did not debate this fact, and his suit was not based on this being erroneous. This is not an innocent man wrongly accused.
While it is obvious his Charter Rights were violated while in Guantanamo, there is no doubt to his guilt by his own admission. If the intent of the settlement is to prevent any other Canadian from having their Charter Rights infringed, how does paying an admitted terrorist and murderer do that? A more suitable direction could have included reprimanding the CSIS/DFAIT officers who committed the infringement, and enhancing oversight of this type of process so that it does not happen in the future. However, paying a murderer who killed one of our allies and possibly our own soldiers through his Improvised Explosive Device (IED) manufacturing is repugnant.
Moreover, Khadr was not just arguing that he suffered a violation of his rights; by adding conspiracy to his suit in 2014 he was also arguing that the government of the time colluded with the US in that violation. Howard Anglin, the advisor for legal affairs to former Prime Minister Harper discussed the importance of this addition noting, “…if proved, it would overcome the inconvenient fact that the alleged mistreatment was at the hands of the Americans, not Canadians.”
All Canadians had the right to their day in court, and to know if our government actively participated in the violation of a citizen’s rights. The decision to settle with Khadr and bypass the ongoing legal process, the “…comprehensive examination by a court” that Justice Mosely wrote about when approving the addition of conspiracy to the suit is an affront to all Canadians that has been perpetrated by our government.
Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms – meant to protect the weak and those in need of defense from the predation of evil, and to hold all accountable for their actions including the Government – has been warped. Rather than defending human rights it has been exploited by many as a way to undermine the judicial system and law enforcement. Though the violation of Khadr’s legal rights deserves some form of remedial action, the Government’s decision to make a multi-million dollar cash settlement with Khadr on the basis of the Charter is a poor replacement for a comprehensive examination by a court.
My solace is that this issue has arisen nation wide with the majority of Canadians opposed to the settlement by our Government and the underhanded way in which it was conducted. For them and myself this is not what Canada stands for. Some of us know that some battles are worth fighting.
To my American friends and neighbors, I’m sorry. To my fellow Canadians I say we deserved better.
Kyle Pizzey is a former Canadian Armed Forces soldier with three tours in Afghanistan. For nine years he was a member of the NATO staff in Afghanistan, responsible for a wide range of intelligence activities in support of the International Security Assistance Force mission and Resolute Support mission. JPR Status: Opinion.
 ‘Signed Stipulation of Fact ICO Omar Khadr, 13 October 2010, New York times, https://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/politics/20101026-gitmo/Signed-Stipulation-of-Fact-ICO-Omar-Khadr.pdf
 ‘Omar Khadr describes firefight that killed U.S. soldier: ’I’m just going to throw this grenade’, 29 May 2015, National Post, http://nationalpost.com/g00/news/canada/omar-khadr-describes-firefight-that-killed-u-s-soldier-im-just-going-to-throw-this-grenade/wcm/b1a0b60f-7871-4764-92bc-b1a526053b80?i10c.referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.ca%2F
 ‘What 3 legal minds think about the Omar Khadr settlement.’, 12 July 2017, CBC, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/omar-khadr-legal-analysis-aaron-wherry-1.4199409
 ‘Omar Khadr wins right to sue federal government for conspiring with U.S.’, 23 Oct 2014, The Globe and Mail, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/omar-khadr-wins-right-to-sue-federal-government-for-conspiring-with-us/article21275581/