Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was taking questions at a town hall Tuesday in Nova Scotia when a woman asked him a pointed question.
It was about Omar Khadr, the former Guantanamo Bay inmate who received $10.5 million from the federal government. Khadr had been accused of killing a U.S. medic in Afghanistan, and it was determined that his charter rights were violated while he was detained.
“Why do you think it’s OK to give $10.5 million to a person that killed a soldier?” she asked.
“OK, that’s a great question,” Trudeau replied. Here’s his full response to the question:
“The question on Omar Khadr is an important one because it goes to something that Canadians have a right to expect from our governments. We have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms in this country, which means that we have to stand up for everyone’s rights. Whether you agree with them or not, whether they’re good or popular or not.
And the measure of a country has to be whether you take the easy way out because of politics, or not. And you seem like you’re pretty upset about the payment made to Omar Khadr and you should be. And you should be. You have every right to be.
Actually, everyone here should be upset because I am that we paid money that could’ve gone to schools, could’ve gone to investing in any number of worthy causes. Or absolutely, more money for veterans.
But we have to remember that there is a lesson here for us, for all of us, and for future governments that when a government violates any Canadian’s fundamental rights and allows them to be tortured, there are consequences and we all must pay.
So I want you to stay angry, I want all of you to stay angry to make sure that no government in the future did as governments of the past did and allow Canadians’ fundamental rights to [be] violated.”
A day later at a town hall in Hamilton, Ont., Trudeau was asked a similar question and gave a more passionate response, which resulted in a standing ovation from many in the audience.
“That is not how we do things in Canada,” Trudeau said in reference to the violation of Khadr’s rights. “In Canada, we defend everyone’s rights, whether or not we agree with them.”
Clearly, the payout to Khadr remains a hot-button issue for Canadians, months after the news came to light.
So what do you make of Trudeau’s response to the questions? Do you agree with his take on the government being responsible for the rights of all Canadians? Let us know what you think by voting in our poll.