Omar Khadr affair has serious implications for Liberal party
There's little question that the ongoing Omar Khadr affair poses a significant dilemma for Canada, one that, by necessity will eventually have to be addressed by the sitting Conservative government.
Yet as the issue continues to gather steam as a partisan issue, the Omar Khadr case has also taken on some very serious implications for the Liberal party -- implications that Romeo Dallaire and Stephane Dion don't really seem to comprehend.
"Canada is alone among Western nations in not having secured the release from Guantanamo of one of its nationals. Prime Minister Harper must finally ensure Mr. Khadr receives the same consular support that any other Canadian -- detainee or not -- would receive," Dion lectured in September 2007.
Dallaire first publicly announced his intention to agitate on Khadr's behalf on May 1 of this year.
"I'm going to be a pain. Every time I stand up in the Senate, the leader of the government knows I'm coming at her and every time she gives the same answer, she is losing more and more feathers," Dallaire said.
"There is no depth of logic in [the government's position]," Dallaire added. "There is a real smell of short-term political fiddling. There's no doubt that's influencing the decisions. It's setting up Canada to lose enormous credibility when it's being tested on one of its own people."
Of course, the problem for Dallaire -- and for the entire Liberal party -- is this: where was Romeo Dallaire before May 1, 2008?
Where was Stephane Dion and the Liberal party in July of 2002 when he was first arrested by US troops in Afghanistan?
The answer: in power.
Where was Stephane Dion and the the Liberal party on September 19, 2004 when Omar Khadr turned 18 years old?
The answer: in power. Romeo Dallaire would be appointed to the Senate the very next year.
And what did the Liberal party do to help Omar Khadr? Not a damn thing up until their ouster from office in January 2006.
This party that now wants to agitate on Khadr's behalf, and take up the mantle of human rights and clemency for child soldiers, didn't do a damn thing on Khadr's behalf when they were in power and had the ability to do so.
It's a reality regarding this affair that only serves to undermine them politically. While both men may well be legitimately concerned for Khadr's well-being -- and Dallaire's previous tragic experience with child soldiers arms him with particular credibility to this end -- their previous inaction only serves to discredit them.
As each man seeks to lecture the government from the opposition benches of their respective House, their sudden show of concern is starkly contrasted by their previous silence while sitting on the other side of the aisle.
There is a serious issue underlying the Khadr case that must be resolved.
But in order to contribute constructively, Dion and Dallaire need to cool their partisan fires, think back to all the things they didn't do when they had the opportunity, and accept their share of the responsibility for the current state of affairs vis a vis Omar Khadr.
Then we'll be one step closer to recognizing the Khadr affair for what it is: a non-partisan political issue that demands resolution.