08 May 2012

Coming home: Khadr vs. Black

One Canadian and one former Canadian have wanted very much to come home to this country. Both are convicted felons—one, Omar Khadr, remains incarcerated at Gauntanamo, Cuba, the other, Conrad Black, has been released and is now back in his house in Toronto. Both cases have been hotly debated, but while the federal government has done everything in its power to delay Khadr's homecoming, Conrad Black slipped into Canada with ease.

A superficial look at the charges they have been convicted of would seem to justify the federal government's position on the two cases. Convicted of fraud and obstructing justice, Black's crimes pale in comparison to Khadr's convictions of murder and aiding terrorism.

It is not, however, quite that simple. Khadr, a classic child soldier, should never have been charged with anything. Furthermore, while Black received a fair trial, Khadr was subjected to the drumhead justice of a military tribunal and took a plea bargain to escape almost certain life in prison if not a death sentence. Comparison of the crimes is not, therefore, so much between fraud and murder as between guilt and innocence.

In addition, while Khadr is a Canadian citizen, and therefore deserving of our protection, Black contemptuously dismissed his Canadian citizenship in favour of the British version complete with lordship. He is both a convicted felon and a foreigner.

On balance, the stronger case for accepting these two back in our bosom rests with Khadr. The Canadian government would seem to disagree.

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