The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling out the federal government for using taxpayer money to compensate former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr.
On Tuesday, sources confirmed Toronto-born Khadr will receive $10.5 million in compensation and a formal apology.
“This is just wrong, to take $10 million of taxpayers money and give it to a person who killed a soldier that was trying to help people,” said Todd MacKay, CTF prairie director.
In 2010, Khadr pleaded guilty to five war crimes before a military commission, including killing a US soldier in Afghanistan.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has started an online petition titled, “Don’t give Omar Khadr $10 million.”
“When you see thousands and thousands of signatures on paper, people who put their names to an idea, it’s a powerful thing. And even the most callus politician has to take a double take and think through what they are doing,” Mackay said.
The petition states Canadians “should not be forced to pay millions of dollars to a killer.”
Mackay said if the deal goes through, Trudeau will be held responsible for it and wants Canadians to have a voice in the decision.
Khadr was 15 years old at the time of the crimes, and fighting with al-Qaeda. His father was a known associate of the late terrorist Osama bin Laden.
In 2002, Khadr was dragged horrifically wounded from the battlefield in Afghanistan. He served time at Guantanamo Bay and has claimed he was tortured while in American custody.
Khadr’s $20-million lawsuit — initially launched in 2004 — alleged the federal government breached his rights by, among other things, colluding with the Americans in his mistreatment.
In 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canadian intelligence officials had obtained evidence from Khadr under “oppressive circumstances,” such as sleep deprivation, during interrogations at Guantanamo Bay in 2003, and shared the evidence with US agents and prosecutors.
The current $10-million compensation price tag is a negotiated settlement, and has sparked debate among those who see Khadr as a terrorist killer and those who believe he deserves compensation.
For those who see him as a terribly abused “child soldier,” the apparent settlement is long overdue.
Some people are arguing the money should go to the family of Chris Sheer, the US soldier killed by Khadr.
Speer’s widow Tabitha Speer and retired American sergeant Layne Morris, who was blinded by a grenade at the Afghan compound, won a default US$134.2 million in damages against Khadr in Utah in 2015. Canadian experts called it unlikely the judgment could be enforced.
– With files from The Canadian Press.