“We are not going to continue with a false choice between our safety and our ideals,” said US President Barack Obama two weeks ago, referring to the controversial US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Obama plans to shut down the prison, where over four hundred men are detained and which does not conform to international law.
Canadian Omar Khadr is the youngest man in the prison. He was a mere teenager when he was locked up. The outcries against his imprisonment in the illegal jail have come from far and wide.
But the fact that Obama wants to shut down Guantánamo is not enough to convince rookie MP and junior foreign affairs minister Peter Kent that it’s a good idea to get Khadr out.
“Serious charges have been laid against Mr. Khadr for what he did at the age of 15. Not all 15-year-olds are ruddy-cheeked cherubs,” Kent said recently in a televised debate.
Kent’s argument boils down to this: Canada supports violations of international law even when the US doesn’t. This is indicative of the overall track of Canadian foreign policy under the government of Stephen Harper. It’s also an argument that doesn’t stand up in the face of a recent poll which shows most Canadians think Khadr should be returned to Canada.
“This man used to be a talking head on television; since he’s been named the minister of state of foreign affairs, he’s been an egghead,” said Zafar Bangash at a protest outside of Kent’s office a few weeks ago.
With moves like this, Kent will likely keep earning his new moniker.