Canadian concerns over the issue continue to this day as Trudeau was asked about the $10.5-million payout at a town hall meeting in Sackville, N.S. on Tuesday.
A woman in the audience asked Trudeau, “why do you think it’s OK to give $10.5 million to a person that killed a soldier?”
Trudeau pointed to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms before saying that “we have to stand up for everyone’s rights, whether you agree with them or not.”
He then went on to explain the heart of the reason the government settled with Khadr.
“That when a government violates a Canadian, any Canadian’s fundamental rights, and allows them to be tortured, there are consequences and we all must pay,” the prime minister told the audience.
“The question is not what Omar Khadr did or didn’t do. That’s being settled in other venues,” Trudeau explained.
“The question is what the Government of Canada did or didn’t do and that as a deterrent, as taking responsibility, and that as actually avoiding what could have been a $40-million payout at the end of the day was why we made that decision.”
But he also told the audience that it had a right to be angry over the payout and that Canadians should remain upset over it.
“So I want you to stay angry, I want all of you to stay angry to make sure that no government in the future did as governments of the past did and allowed a Canadian’s fundamental rights to be violated,” Trudeau said.
Khadr was held at Guantanamo after his 2002 capture in Afghanistan. He was charged with throwing the grenade that killed U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Speer in 2002, when Khadr was 15.
He pleaded guilty to murder but later recanted and said he was coerced into making the plea.
Trudeau’s town hall tour will continue at McMaster University in Hamilton on Wednesday afternoon. From there, he will continue to move west.
- With files from the Canadian Press