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And his Indigenous Affairs Minister, Carolyn Bennett, was forced to stand before the microphones in Ottawa Tuesday, offering a rather shaky vote of confidence in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry, following its most recent resignation.
On the Khadr file, perfectly sound Liberal arguments regarding the Charter of Rights, Supreme Court judgments, mistreatment of a child soldier, a fruitless court pursuit and a savings of tax dollars has crashed on the rocks of a Canadian public that sees only a terrorist and $ 10.5 million.
The MMIWG inquiry was supposed to be the lowest of hanging fruit for a government, a key stepping stone on the way to promised Indigenous reconciliation. But it is proving to be toxic fruit, riven with competing views and philosophies and communications breakdowns.
Which of these two early summer messes will prove more costly to the Trudeau government?
One aspect of the Khadr settlement which has been largely overlooked is how the Trudeau government managed to ensure that it did not seep across the border and draw the wrath of U.S. President Donald Trump.
While government sources say there was no direct contact with the White House before last Friday’s formal announcement, there were heads’ up given to the U.S. state department and department of defence.
They attribute the U.S. silence to the fact that the U.K. and Australia had similarly compensated a number of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
Most notably, the sources were referring to Moazzam Begg, who was compensated by the U.K. government after arguing that Britain’s MI-5 had been complicit in his mistreatment in Guantanamo, just as Canadian officials denied Khadr’s rights by interrogating him, without legal representation.
Australia compensated Egyptian-Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib who was taken to Egypt, then held for more than two years at Guantanamo Bay in a case Australian media compared to Canadian Maher Arar, who received $ 10.5 million from Ottawa after he was rendered to Syria, where he was tortured.
But those cases were settled before Trump, who has publicly backed torture and spoken out against coddling terrorists. If he saw an injustice against the family of U.S. soldier Christopher Speer, he remained mum.
The imploding Indigenous inquiry is more important to not just the government, but the country.
The commission has not brought Canadians with them, as successful inquiries do, Bennett conceded.
But a letter released by Poitras made it clear there are fundamental differences between the commissioners, and Chief Commissioner Marion Buller told the CBC that whenever you put five people (commissioners) “in a room, you’re going to have five different opinions.’’
That hardly bodes well.
The government can let the Khadr furor play out.
It can’t let a flawed inquiry play out. It is losing the confidence of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. It can’t be allowed to slide into a ditch.
Its success is important to the government and the country, but most importantly to families who have lost loved ones.