Majority of Canadians Don’t Support Khadr Payout
A clear majority of Canadians disapprove of the Liberal government awarding $10.5-million and apologizing to former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr earlier this summer in a settlement over his imprisonment with many saying the decision will affect their vote in the next federal election.
In the Campaign Research survey of 1,770 Canadian voters, conducted between Sept. 8 and 11, 60 per cent of respondents disapproved of the apology and settlement made with Mr. Khadr.
Only 21 per cent of respondents voiced approval for the settlement, with another 19 per cent offering no opinion.
The Opposition was the strongest among residents of Ontario outside of the Greater Toronto Area (64 per cent), people making between $40,000 and $60,000 (65 per cent), Canadians 65 years and older (74 per cent), and Conservative voters (83 per cent).
Supporters of all the major federal parties disapproved of the settlement more than they approved of it.
Only seven per cent of Conservative supporters backed the settlement, compared to 25 per cent of Green Party backers (48 per cent of Green supporters were against) and 40 per cent of Bloc Québécois supporters, with 54 per cent against.
While 31 per cent of Liberal backers said they agreed with the deal, 49 per cent said they didn’t.
The NDP supporters indicated similar levels of support, with 31 per cent saying they were for the deal and 51 per cent against.
Khadr was taken to Afghanistan by his father, who was affiliated with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations as a minor.
On July 27, 2002, at age 15, Khadr was severely wounded during fighting between U.S. soldiers and Taliban fighters in the village of Ayub Kheyl; Khadr is alleged to have thrown the grenade that killed an American soldier.
After eight years in detention at Guantanamo Bay, Khadr pleaded guilty in October 2010 to “murder in violation of the laws of war” and four other charges at a hearing before a United States military commission.
According to the UN, Khadr was the first person since World War II to be prosecuted in a military commission for war crimes committed while still a minor.
In 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Canadian government’s interrogation of Khadr at Guantanamo Bay “offend[ed] the most basic Canadian standards [of] the treatment of detained youth suspects”, but stopped short of ordering Khadr’s repatriation.
However, on September 29, 2012, Khadr returned to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence in Canadian custody.
Khadr was released on bail in May 2015 after the Alberta Court of Appeal refused to block his release as had been requested by the Canadian government.
In 2017, the Canadian government announced an agreement to settle any damages arising from its previous handling of the case providing Khadr with a payment of $10.5 million.
Looking ahead to 2019, more than four in 10 respondents (44 per cent) said the settlement would affect their vote in the next election. That breaks down to 21 per cent saying it would impact their vote decision “a great deal,” and another 23 per cent saying it would have some impact.
Among those backing the Conservatives, 44 per cent said this deal would affect their vote a great deal, while for Liberal supporters that number dropped to seven per cent.
When it comes to those in support of the deal, 17 per cent said the settlement would have some impact on their vote, with 10 per cent saying their voting decision would be affected a great deal. Of those in opposition, 29 per cent said their vote would be somewhat affected, with 31 per cent saying it would be affected greatly.
If these voters are tapped into effectively 40 per cent of Canadians could be found voting Conservative and the 2019 election could be closer than expected.