he decision to pay a $10.5 million settlement and issue an apology to Omar Khadr appears to have cost the federal Liberals in the court of public opinion.
An Angus Reid poll conducted between July 7-10 showed that overall, 71 per cent of Canadians thought the Trudeau government had “done the wrong thing” with the payout and apology.
A breakdown by party support showed that 91 per cent of those who reported voting Conservative in the last federal election were opposed to the decision, with 64 per cent of NDP supporters also against.
The decision also appears to have rankled many Liberal supporters, with 61 per cent of those who voted Liberal in 2015 also registering their disapproval.
Speaking on Gormley Tuesday morning, National Post columnist John Ivison said he was struck by a disconnect between what he termed elite opinion and the rest of society.
“There is this sense that…’there was a Supreme Court judgment, inevitably the government would have to settle this, this is how the Charter works.’ But I think more broadly though, Canadians just do not feel that there’s a sense of fairness here regardless of the legalities,” he said.
Ivison said his reading of Khadr’s interrogation by Canadian intelligence officials while he was being held in the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay left him with little doubt that Khadr was tortured.
“He sounded like a child. I think it was clear he was being tortured. And Canada, by passing on that info and not protecting him, was complicit in that,” he said.
However, Ivison said it was his view that the Trudeau government ought to have let the courts decide on an appropriate level of compensation, if any.
“The government had a choice here, it could have continued on with its legal action and let’s see where it goes.”
Ivison said he believed the Khadr matter seemed set to linger over the Liberals, possibly costing them in public opinion polls and potentially at the ballot box.
“It’s hard for me to see how spending this much political capital on this issue is good for this government.”