Fred DeLorey – Conservative strategist “Omar Khadr’s crimes were incredibly serious. He is a convicted terrorist and known supporter of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. He pleaded guilty to the murder of Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer, an American Army medic, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2002. Mr. Khadr also pleaded guilty for providing material support for terrorism; attempted murder in violation of the law of war; and conspiracy and spying. “But there is nothing else the government could have legally done on this case—Omar Khadr was born in Canada and is a Canadian citizen, so under law he has a right to enter Canada after the completion of his sentence. Correctional Service Canada is going to be administering his sentence and any decisions related to his future will be determined by the independent Parole Board of Canada in accordance with Canadian law.” Ian Wayne – NDP strategist “For a long time it has been inevitable that Omar Khadr would return to serve out his sentence in Canada, but you wouldn’t know it from the way the Conservatives have handled this. Incompetence and mismanagement of this case from day one. Dragging out the case for years—at great cost to taxpayers. Hurting our relationship with our closest ally. A court judgment against the Conservative government’s handling of the case. “Instead of doing the hard diplomatic work needed to close this difficult file, the Conservatives have used it as a political football and alienated the Americans. “Their mishandling has raised serious questions about Canada’s credibility on the world stage with respect to human rights. For years now, Mr. Khadr was the last Western citizen left in Guantanamo. The minister’s heel-dragging on his transfer to Canada became an irritant in our relationship with the U.S., made worse in recent weeks with the accusation surfacing that the minister’s office leaked secret U.S. documents to the media. “Perhaps the worst part of the Conservative bungling is that it produced no results for Canadians. Keeping Mr. Khadr in the thoroughly discredited Guantanamo facility instead of a Canadian prison has done nothing to protect national security, nothing to help Canada’s reputation abroad and nothing to further our national interests. “Moving forward, let’s leave it to the authorities, like the parole board and correctional services to handle this case—without political interference.” Karine Cousineau – Grit strategist “So this week we finally saw the return of Omar Khadr after a decade spent in a Guantanamo Bay prison. This issue evokes a highly-emotional reaction—a young Canadian convicted in a military court of war crimes and without due process in our own justice system—but the fact remains, Omar Khadr was a child soldier and the Harper government took far too long to bring him back to Canada. “The Conservatives decided to take their sweet time and drag out this process instead of letting his case be handled according to Canadian law. It also created unnecessary tension in our relations with the United States. As previously mentioned, I think that this return was long overdue. “Whether people agree or disagree about the fact that he has been returned to a Kingston prison, he is here now and we must focus on next steps. The Canadian correctional system focuses highly on rehabilitation using known criteria and a decision-making process that is transparent and free from political interference. There are many concerns about his reintegration into society but I am confident that our justice system will be able to deal with them in a non-partisan and independent way. He is after all, a Canadian.” Camille Labchuk – Green strategist “The Harper Conservatives intentionally botched Omar Khadr’s case from day one. The utter failure to seek even basic protections for Mr. Khadr reveals a mean-spirited attitude that is fundamentally out of sync with Canadian values. “Mr. Khadr was a child soldier, and the first person since the Second World War to be prosecuted for crimes committed while he was still a minor. It is appalling that Canada, once so committed to justice and human rights, allowed Mr. Khadr to rot in Guantanamo for nearly a decade, where his human rights were repeatedly violated. “Instead of repatriating Mr. Khadr, Harper wasted taxpayers’ dollars fighting in the courts to block his return and avoid fulfilling our duty to bring him home. After he finally was returned last week, Minister Toews’ first move was to stoke public opinion against him by vilifying Mr. Khadr in the media. It’s outrageous and completely inappropriate that the executive has interfered in our judicial system in this way. Experts who have spent time with Mr. Khadr say he is no threat to Canadian society and has every chance of reintegrating. Vilifying Mr. Khadr is detrimental to this goal. “Finally, the government’s actions may even have damaged Canada-U.S. relations. The U.S. has wanted Mr. Khadr returned to Canada for some time, and provided us with classified documents to assist in the process. But these documents were leaked, and U.S. officials are blaming Canada for the stunning breach of security.