The Current

Government says 'will suffer irreparable harm' if Khadr released

The federal government's decision to seek an emergency stay of procedures on Omar Khadr's bail application, has more than one observer musing that this federal fight has become very political and very personal for the Prime Minister. Today we look into the legal fight and political strategy.
Omar Khadr is appealing his U.S. war crimes convictions, claiming he only pleaded guilty to the charges to get out of Guantanamo Bay. (Bowden Institution/Canadian Press)
"I would like to comment on the case of Omar Ahmed Khadr. The government has been clear we intend ask for a stay of enforcement from the court as we have always been coherent on this file... Until a final court decision has been rendered, he should stay behind bars."- Steven Blaney, Public Safety Minister

Well, after nearly 13 years behind bars, mostly in Guantanamo Bay, today may be the day that Omar Khadr walks out of an Alberta jail. Public safety minister, Steven Blaney, says, the federal government has intervened to try and ensure that doesn't happen today.

Omar Khadr, the Toronto-born 28-year-old man who was captured as a 15-year-old in Afghanistan, and pleaded guilty to war crimes including the murder of an American soldier, was returned to Canada, and Canadian custody, in 2012. He'll be eligible for statutory release in October 2016, but last month an Alberta justice, June Ross, granted him bail while he works on an appeal of his American conviction, on charges he says he only pleaded guilty to in order to get out of the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison.

The terms of that bail were to be set in a court hearing this afternoon, but now before that can happen, federal government lawyers will appear before the Alberta Court of Appeal, seeking an emergency stay of the decision to grant bail and keep Omar Khadr behind bars for as long as possible.

Audrey Macklin is a law professor and chair in human rights law at the University of Toronto.

The case of Omar Khadr has long been as politically charged as it has been legally complex, and to some observers, the pressure coming from Ottawa to keep Mr. Khadr behind bars, does have much more to do with politics, than legalities today.

Steve Sullivan served as the first federal ombudsman for victims of crime. He writes a weekly column for iPolitics

Tim Powers is the Vice-chair of Summa Strategies and a Conservative strategist. He was in St Johns, Newfoundland.

We did request an interview with Minster of Public Safety, Steven Blaney but our request was turned down.

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino, Howard Goldenthal and Lara O'Brien.