Thursday, January 22, 2009

McKay: Ottawa ''reassessing'' Khadr's case

This is from the Globe and Mail.

MacKay seems to be taking a different tack than some other officials who are just staying with the standard bit of crap. The Canadian govt. will simply wait until the US justice process runs it course even though that process is regarded globally as a farce and the new president is putting a stop to it. Harper looks as if he dearly wants to carry on supporting the Bush farce in Guantanamo even after Bush is gone and repudiated by the present American govt.
MacKay at least wants to keep some opening in case Obama in effect forces Harper to do something other than continue spouting the same tired piffle.

Ottawa 'reassessing' Khadr's case, MacKay says
With a report from Ingrid Peritz in Montreal
January 22, 2009
TORONTO, OTTAWA -- For the first time, the Conservative government is quietly budging from its vehement refusal to act on behalf of Canadian Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr, with Defence Minister Peter MacKay saying the government is "reassessing" its position.
In one of his first major orders as U.S. President, Barack Obama called a time-out on the military commissions system, telling military prosecutors to request a 120-day "suspension" of the court cases - a request that Guantanamo judges granted. The suspension not only adds to the uncertainty surrounding Mr. Khadr's future, but also puts more pressure on the government in Ottawa to change its long-held position that it will not act on the detained Canadian's behalf while a legal process is continuing.
After the comments by Mr. MacKay - who went further than other federal officials on the matter - a government official explained that the Defence Minister was simply pointing out that Canada is "watching what the U.S. administration is saying very closely."
Senior federal officials said the Canadian government is still waiting to hear the Obama administration's final word on Guantanamo, pointing out that the 120-day delay does not fundamentally alter Mr. Khadr's trial. However, the Obama administration made its overall intent clear yesterday, circulating a draft executive order that calls for the Guantanamo Bay detention camps to be shut down within one year.
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Ottawa appears to be hedging its bets, preparing for a possible request from Washington to take Mr. Khadr back. The issue the Conservative government has wished for so long to avoid may well end up surfacing during the first meeting between Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
With a 120-day delay in hand, the Obama administration has bought some time to consider the legal and political minefield it will have to cross on the way to shutting down the Guantanamo Bay detention camps.
For example, human-rights groups have repeatedly called for all charges against the detainees to be dropped and refiled in U.S. federal court, but such a move risks having many, if not all, of the cases fall apart if the federal courts decide the evidence against the detainees is tainted by torture. In that context, it may be far preferable for Washington to ask Ottawa to take back Mr. Khadr - and possibly some other detainees who don't face charges but have nowhere else to go - thereby giving Mr. Obama fewer cases with which to deal.
An expert said that Mr. Khadr is likely to land back in Canada, and that Mr. Obama will want to settle this "irritant" before he visits Mr. Harper in Ottawa in coming weeks.
"My guess is that they would probably want this off the books by summit time," said Fen Hampson, director of Carleton University's Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.
Within hours of Mr. Obama's decision to halt the Guantanamo trials, human-rights groups reacted with universal approval. The American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and the United Nations office for children and armed conflict all described the move as an important first step toward closing the book on Guantanamo.
In the meantime, calls are growing from within Canada to bring Mr. Khadr home.
In Montreal yesterday, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff called for Mr. Khadr's repatriation.
"We've said for over a year and a half that Guantanamo should be closed, Mr. Khadr should come home, and he should be reintegrated into Canadian society," Mr. Ignatieff told reporters after meeting the head of Quebec's largest labour organization.
"I don't pronounce on his innocence or guilt. I just think enough is enough."

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