Canada’s Liberal government wants the opposition Conservatives to stop talking to the U.S. media about Omar Khadr. Trudeau’s government paid the former al-Qaida terrorist $10.5 million this month and issued a formal apology to “compensate” Khadr for “oppressive” treatment that he allegedly received while a prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
Khadr was a Canadian citizen at the time he volunteered to fight for al-Qaida against Canadian and U.S troops in Afghanistan. He confessed to killing U.S. Army medic Christopher Speer and blinding Sgt. Layne Morris with a grenade. Many cite the actions as treasonous and a recent poll found that 71 percent of Canadians opposed the decision.
But the Trudeau government doesn’t think that outrage should be voiced to U.S. media because they say it might compromise the looming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Trudeau’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, and his principal secretary, Gerald Butts, have both taken to social media to accuse the Conservatives of grandstanding on U.S. media at the expense of Canadian credibility in the NAFTA talks.
“Dangerous game #CPC is playing. Cda-US relationship should be above domestic politics. We should all be on the same team focused on trade,” tweeted McKenna.
That suggestion has astounded the Conservative opposition who say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must own any negative consequences resulting from his decision to “compensate” Khadr. Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) and immigration critic Michelle Rempel has appeared on Fox News twice this week to condemn the payout, including a Monday segment of Tucker Carlson Tonight when she told the host: “Canadians are outraged about this settlement.”
She also believes Canadians will be outraged over the Liberals pointing their fingers at the Conservatives. “The fact that the Prime Minister elected to make this decision just as we were heading into NAFTA – that is his decision,” Michelle Rempel told the Globe and Mail.
Trudeau continues to press for a unified front for the NAFTA talks. “I have been pleased that, up until recently anyway, we have been working very, very collaboratively and speaking with different voices but the same themes to the United States, to present a common front,” Trudeau said at a news conference in Quebec City on Wednesday.
But Khadr has displaced that bipartisan spirit.
In a tweet, Conservative MP and Opposition House Leader Candice Bergen told McKenna: “Catherine,Your govt should have counted the full cost of your payment to Khadr. Not just in $$ but in potential damage to US/Canada relations…”
Rempel says the Liberal deflection is beyond belief. “Of course the Americans are going to pay attention to this issue, because it affects the families of the soldiers who were injured and killed,” she told the Globe and Mail.
“A lot of Canadians don’t share the Prime Minister’s sentiment.” Rempel reiterated a point that she has made throughout the Khadr controversy: that the Supreme Court of Canada did not instruct the federal government to pay any sum of money to confessed killer Khadr.
“I think it was very important to clarify that this wasn’t a payment that was dictated by a court.”
In an interview on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, retired U.S. Army special forces Sgt. Layne Morris, blinded in the Khadr attack, confirmed that, although Trudeau had made no effort to reach out to him in the wake of the Khadr payout, former prime minister Stephen Harper had.
“Mr. Trudeau had to go out of his way to get Omar this money…to protect this man, that’s really reopening a wound…I feel bad for the Canadian military. I served over there with those guys. They’ve got be feeling pretty bad about their government rewarding a man who did his very best to kill them,” he told Carlson.
The Conservative’s U.S. media campaign began last weekend with an op-ed piece by Conservative foreign affairs critic and former journalist Peter Kent. “A Terrorist’s Big Payday, Courtesy of Trudeau” was published last weekend in the Wall Street Journal and was excoriated the Liberal government’s decision to reward Khadr.