Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Not Nearly So Simple

After Khadr comes back to Canada, what's next?

If predictions for the coming new year turn out to be true, Omar Khadr may be on his way back to Canada.

With Barack Obama planning to finally close down Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, many are expecting Obama to return Khadr to Canada.

Michael Byers is among them.

"I am absolutely convinced that Khadr is coming home," Byers remarked. "Not because Stephen Harper wants him to come home but because of the pressure from the Obama administration for Canada to provide this small degree of assistance with respect to their closing down of Guantanamo Bay."

(This last little bit is yet another manifestation of Byers' bizarre predilection for blaming Stephen Harper for things that were actually started by the Liberal party that he somehow prefers to Harper.)

This may or may not happen before Khadr finally goes on trial for killing an American soldier in Afghanistan. In fact, rumours abound that Khadr will be returned to Canada mere days before he's scheduled to go on trial.

If that is the case, then Obama will have to act quickly. He takes office a mere six days before Khadr's trial is scheduled to begin.

Even if Khadr is quickly returned to Canada, serious questions will remain for individuals such as Byers to answer. Most important is the question of what, precisely, will be done with Khadr after he's returned.

Essentially, there are two ways to treat Khadr: as a terrorist or as a child soldier.

If Khadr is to be treated as a terrorist, he will have to be charged under Canadian law and put on trial. At that point the government will have to deport Khadr, as they should have deported Khadr's family long ago.

In Khadr's case, however, the more appropriate method is to treat him as a child soldier. But even in that case, Khadr cannot simply be turned loose into the Canadian public. If Khadr is to be treated as a child soldier -- and considering that he was indoctrinated into Islamic militant ideology by his father and participated in combat at the age of 15 -- he will have to be rehabilitated. Above all, he must renounce the terrorist philosophy his father raised him on.

If Khadr cannot be rehabilitated and will not renounce the beliefs he was taught by his father -- something representing the ultimate form of child abuse by any civilized standard -- then Khadr will have to be treated as a terrorist, and either imprisioned for life or deported.

But, upon his return to Canada, Khadr deserves the opportunity to determine his own future. Whether he does that by working hard toward rehabilitating and reintegrating into society or in how he chooses to answer for his purported crimes will have to be seen.

What should be known in the meantime is precisely what individuals such as Michael Byers believe should be done with Khadr upon his return to Canada.

If Byers were to suggest another one of his trademark reckless ideological stances -- such as his stance that Canada should interact amicably with countries that beat and rape our citizens to death -- it should serve as yet another reason for Byers to be rejected again by Canadian voters in a future election.

Odds are, the Omar Khadr situation is not nearly as simple as Byers would like Canadians to believe.

Other bloggers writing on this topic:

Connie Crosby - "Continuing Efforts to Bring Omar Khadr Home"

Toni Inst - "A Child Soldier or Just a Child?"

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