Canada Stabs The United States, Again

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In the late Sixties, I was standing at the U.S.-Mexican border between San Diego and Tijuana with the Mayor of Tijuana, the Governor of Baja California and the Tijuana Police Chief. We were waiting for the California Highway Patrol Association’s 16 bus loads of officers and their wives coming to Mexico for dinner and shopping.

A screaming match began right in front of us at the pedestrian crossing between Mexican border officers and a van load of long-haired Sixties hippies. The Mexicans were blocking the hippies from crossing into Mexico. The hippie leader screamed, “Jesus wouldn’t object to us entering your stupid country!” The Tijuana police chief walked over and calmly told the screaming hippie: “My name is Jesus (heh-soos) and I object.”

Had we been on the U.S. – Canadian border at the same time, the van-load of hippies would have been welcomed for Canada welcomed military draft dodgers and deserters from the Vietnam Era American military. I have never forgiven Canada for stabbing the United States in the back then, or now.

Within the past few days, Canadian politicians and judges have stabbed the U.S. in the back again. They just handed over $8 million (American) dollars to 30 year-old Canadian-born Omar Khadr who spent a decade in the Guantanamo prison in Cuba for terrorist murder and wounding of American soldiers in Afghanistan 15 years ago when he was a 15 year-old enthusiastic Al-Qaeda soldier. Specifically, he was captured after killing one American soldier and blinding another with a grenade.

The more-than-willing AK-47 armed killer was the son of an Al-Qaeda leader and confidant of Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist leader of Al-Qaeda who eventually pleaded guilty to murder in a military tribunal in Guantanamo that sentenced him to 8 years in prison and time already served. There, being Canadian, Khadr was “interviewed” by Canadian intelligence officials. Eventually, the evidence secured by these Canadian officials was turned over to the Americans and a military tribunal was organized to try Khadr.

Here enters the Canadian government and their lackadaisical judiciary. At Canadian request, Khadr was transferred to Canada to serve out his eight-year sentence two years after pleading guilty and serving two more years in Guantanamo. Big mistake. The Obama Administration knew what it was doing; it was trying to shut Guantanamo down, so off to Canada Khadr blissfully went.

He immediately sued for release and $16 million in damages claiming he was “tortured” by the Canadian officers; to wit: he was “sleep deprived.” His law suit claimed Canada didn’t live up to international law requirements that it had to defend him as a Canadian national from American treatment he claimed was illegal. He was released on bail and the Canadian government has paid him $8 million dollars for his damages. It also “apologized” for his conviction and prison time.

When the widow of his victim and the blinded soldier sued in U.S. courts for damages Khadr admitted to causing, they were awarded a defaulted wrongful death $130 million dollar award. They sued in Canadian courts to freeze any of Khadr’s Canadian award. A Canadian judged ruled against them and then commented that their request was “extraordinary.”

Canada needs to be taken to task for this betrayal of the United States. The Canadian uber-liberal spirit of the Sixties it experienced when the current Prime Minister’s father took it over a liberal cliff resulted in a long Conservative reign that buried the Liberals for a generation. The current Canadian body politic may be different than it was after Vietnam, but it is still smaller than California and susceptible to wide political swings.

It will go through another election in which the government will have to defend its betrayal of the United States in the case of “boy soldier” Khadr.

But before that it will have to endure a renegotiation in August with the United States and Mexico on 2017 modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Trade issues aside, the USA should exert its economic muscles on Canada over the Khadr affair and punish it severely for stabbing the U.S. in the political and philosophical back once again.

Contreras is the Author of THE ARMENIAN LOBBY & U.S. FOREIGN POLICY (Berkeley Press 2017) and THE MEXICAN BORDER: IMMIGRATION, WAR AND A TRILLION DOLLARS IN TRADE (Floricanto Press 2016), he formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate