EDITORIAL: Canadian is Canadian, even when the circumstances are distasteful

When you’re Canadian, you’re Canadian. Period.

When you’re Canadian, you’re Canadian. Period. And you have certain rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If you’re travelling or living overseas and something happens to you, you expect your rights as a Canadian citizen to be protected.

This assertion is simple to understand if you’re that traveller, or a student in a foreign land, or someone caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is more difficult to swallow, though, when you add the element of war, and accusations of murdering soldiers, as is the case of Omar Khadr.

Last week, news that Khadr received a $10.5-million payout after the Supreme Court determined his rights were violated, isn’t sitting well with many Canadians.

Khadr was jailed in the United States’ Guantanamo Bay when he was 16 and returned to jail in Canada five years ago after pleading guilty to killing an American soldier and wounding another in a firefight in Afghanistan. He was 15 at the time of the alleged incident.

The settlement is all about Khadr’s rights as a Canadian citizen being violated. It has nothing to do with the accusations made against him or the plea deal he made. We can’t know why his father declined to give up the family’s Canadian citizenship when he moved them back to Afghanistan when Khadr was nine years old. They remain Canadian.

Which means Khadr has rights, just as every other Canadian does.

Protecting those rights is a major responsibility, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does so for everyone with a Canadian passport. Khadr was a Canadian, and a minor when he was first incarcerated, and his rights should have been protected.

To deny Khadr the compensation following a loss in court would be to flout Canadian law, no matter how distasteful the law may seem in this individual case.

This decision is protecting our laws; it is not rewarding a terrorist.

—Alberni Valley News