Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that he made no attempt to communicate with the widow of Sgt. Chris Speer, Tabitha Speer, according to CBC.
At a news conference in Providence, Rhode Island, Trudeau admitted that he did not even try to explain to Speer why he decided to “compensate” the confessed killer of her husband, Omar Khadr, with a $10.5 milllion settlement.
Trudeau offered no comment on reports that former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper did reach out to both Speer and retired Sgt. Layne Morris, who was blinded in the grenade attack that killed the U.S. Army medic.
“I did not reach out and I have no comment on what the former prime minister did,” he said.
Khadr, who is a Canadian citizen and was born in Canada, volunteered to fight for al-Qaida against Canadian and U.S. forces that were battling terrorists in Afghanistan. In 2002, he was captured, first imprisoned in Afghanistan, and then moved to the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
At the time of the settlement, Khadr was locked in a legal battle with the Canadian government, seeking redress for alleged torture that he says he was subject to while in Guantanamo.
If Trudeau did not extend his voice to Khadr’s victims, he offered his sympathy on Friday, declaring that he was trying to comprehend the “anguish those families have gone through and are going through.”
Trudeau has attempted to defend the settlement over the last week first by saying he had no choice because the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms obligated him to do so and then suggesting a long court battle with Khadr could have been even more costly than the settlement. It was the closest Trudeau’s came to acknowledging the amount of money given to Khadr, a decision opposed by 71 percent of Canadians in a poll released this week.
One of Khadr’s lawyers, John Phillips, told CBC News on Saturday that he believes Trudeau expected a negative public reaction to the payout and purposely leaked it to the media.
“It strikes me as it was orchestrated by someone inside government that leaked information to cause the embarrassment to the Trudeau government for doing what it did,” Phillips said.