Many Canadians don’t agree with the federal government’s decision to compensate Omar Khadr with $10.5 million, a poll has found.
According to an Angus Reid Institute poll released Tuesday, 71 per cent of Canadians say the Liberal government should have fought a legal case with Khadr rather than settling out of court. They added it should have been left to the courts to decide if Khadr — a Canadian citizen who spent 10 years in Guantanamo Bay — was wrongfully imprisoned.
Only 29 per cent of Canadians thought the Liberals did “the right thing” by offering an apology and compensation to Khadr.
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The data, collected between July 7 and 10, also found the majority of Canadians (65 per cent) don’t believe the government had “no choice” but to settle.
The Liberal government has said the settlement was about upholding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
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The settlement comes after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2010 that Canadian intelligence officials obtained evidence from Khadr under “oppressive circumstances,” such as sleep deprivation, during interrogation at Guantanamo Bay in 2003.
“The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects all Canadians, every one of us, even when it is uncomfortable,” Trudeau told reporters at the G20 summit in Hamburg Saturday.
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Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale gave a similar rationale Friday.
“It is not about the battlefield in Afghanistan. It is about the acts or omissions of the Canadian government after Mr. Khadr was captured and detained,” he said.
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About 64 per cent of those who responded to the poll felt the Khadr remains a “potential radicalized threat.”
Canadians also weighed in on what they themselves would have done.
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About 29 per cent said they would have offered both an apology and compensation, while one-quarter said they would have apologized but not given Khadr money. The most common answer, at 43 per cent, favoured neither an apology nor a payout. Only three per cent said they would have given Khadr $10.5 million, but no apology.
The Conservative Party has been outspoken against the Trudeau government’s decision. Party Leader Andrew Scheer called the settlement “disgusting.”
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“This settlement is a choice made by Justin Trudeau … a slap in the face to the men and women in uniform who face incredible danger every day to keep us safe,” Scheer said.
Meanwhile, advocacy organizations such as Amnesty International have praised Canada’s actions.
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“This is a tremendous day of justice, long overdue, for Omar Khadr who has endured so much and yet has shown Canadians a tremendous degree of courage, grace and resilience,” said Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International, in a press release.
This Angus Reid Institute poll was conducted between July 7 and 10 by 1,512 Canadian adults who are part of the Angus Reid Forum. A probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.