Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Harper government must act on Khadr

An excellent op-ed today on the Khadr ruling, confirming that the matter remains unresolved and that the Harper government misreads the judgment by doing nothing. A few excerpts:
The court is giving Mr. Harper a chance to do the right thing, not absolving him from accountability.

When the highest court in the land advises the government that the government is breaking the law, and affirms that a request for repatriation would be an appropriate remedy for that breach, a government has two choices: A government that operates according to the rule of law will undertake to remedy the wrong because it understands that the government is not above the law. A government that operates according to the rule of men will calculate that if no votes will be gained by obeying the law, and some votes might even be lost, then the law deserves no respect unless and until backed up by the force of a court order. There are people who think it is okay to break the law if they can get away with it. We should be deeply worried if our government guided itself according to the same moral logic.
In declining to mandate the executive to take specific steps, the court indicated that the “prudent course at this point” was to give the executive the opportunity to formulate a remedy that fulfills its Charter obligations. However, if the government spurns the opportunity, we may arrive at a different point. A declaration, once issued by a court, is always open to enforcement. Should the violation of Mr. Khadr's rights go unremedied, the Canadian government will continue to be in violation of the law. It will remain open for Mr. Khadr's lawyers to return to court at a later date and renew a request for a remedy on the grounds that the circumstances animating the court's deference have changed, and judicial deference is no longer warranted.
To be continued...