Omar Khadr and the Need for a Trial

Over 70% of all Canadians are very unhappy with the Khadr settlement. Last month, Canada paid him $10.5 million as compensation for the breach of his Charter rights (he was subject to forms of what some have called torture with Canada’s knowledge while imprisoned by Americans).


The government defended the payment and said we had no option. That is, we were told that we could either fight Khadr tooth and nail every step of the way through the courts OR we could pay him ten million plus.

There was a third option and it is done every day in Ontario courts. Admit liability and contest damages. That is, admit that the man’s Charter rights were breached and proceed to a trial of what that might be worth. The “admission” only concedes what our highest court has already concluded with this precise person years ago. Agree with it or not, we are stuck with that finding.

Move on then to a trial in open court as to what compensation would be fair. What might a court award? Damages for future mental health counseling? $50,000. Damages for an impaired ability to earn income? He wants to be a nurse; if we assume that the delay in his education kept him out of the workforce for a decade, you are looking at perhaps $600,000 for income loss.

Damages for pain and suffering and for his charter breach are a little less predictable. That said, it is instructive to note that if you are rendered a quadriplegic in an accident, our court has capped that at a little under $400,000 for pain and suffering. So maybe use that as a baseline and add another $100,000 for the Charter breach. And, of course, the lawyers must be paid something.

But even so, these numbers lead to a fraction of the coin that the Liberals so hastily paid out to him. Would a court have gone with higher numbers? Perhaps, but perhaps not. (Trudeau said the outside number may have been “thirty or forty million”, which was simply nonsense) These numbers are easily justifiable; they may have convinced a judge.

To have contested the bloated and arrogant financial demands of Khadr in open court would have been honourable and transparent. Instead we have participated in a furtive shakedown of the Canadian tax payers.

No wonder so many are upset. Not all cases deserve a trial, but this one certainly did.