The latest on Omar Khadr

If you’ve been following the Omar Khadr saga in Canada, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Canadian government jurisdiction in foreign affairs with respect to the repatriation of Khadr. The Minister of Justice released the following statement yesterday,

“In its ruling, the Supreme Court recognized the constitutional responsibility of the executive to make decisions on matters of foreign affairs, given the complex and ever-changing circumstances of diplomacy, and the need to take into account Canada’s broader interests. The Supreme Court did not require the Government to ask for accused terrorist Omar Khadr’s return.

“In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Government of Canada today delivered a diplomatic note to the Government of the United States formally seeking assurances that any evidence or statements shared with U.S. authorities as a result of the interviews of Mr. Khadr by Canadian agents and officials in 2003 and 2004 not be used against him by U.S. authorities in the context of proceedings before the Military Commission or elsewhere.

“Omar Khadr faces very serious charges, including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, material support for terrorism, and spying. The Government of Canada continues to provide consular services to Mr. Khadr.”

The part about the formal request seeking assurances regarding evidence is interesting. The Supreme Court ruled that Khadr’s Charter rights were violated as Canadian officials were party to an illegal interrogation. A formal request from the government to for the US to reject evidence acquired in collaboration with Canadians, may cure the breach of rights that the Supreme Court references.

Earlier today, Khadr’s lawyers filed an injunction against the formal request complaining that they were not first consulted on the government’s plans. It seems that the ultimate goal for Team Khadr is repatriation of the accused murderer. The legal reality is that the Supreme Court did not compel the government to seek Khadr’s return and it is no secret that this government will never do so. However, a future government may follow this course of action. A request to expunge evidence only can help Khadr’s case. Since repatriation is out of the question for the Harper government, Khadr’s lawyers may have more hope waiting for an Ignatieff government than for their client to face justice in the United States.

Khadr’s supporters seek the 23 year old’s repatriation and reintegration into Canadian society. In Toronto, this weekend a conference titled “Media War on Islam ” was held at a Toronto-area Islamic Centre. Here’s an excerpt from the National Post,

Western media have a “spiteful policy” toward Iran of inventing “fraudulent” news to “increase false national expectation” and “encourage disturbance,” according to the cultural attache in the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Hamid Mohammadi said media deception has caused hatred and fear of Muslims by presenting the “false belief that religion is incapable of running a country” and that Iran is therefore illegitimate. He said the result has been political “position changing” by Western countries against Muslims.

He quoted an “American thinker,” whose name did not come clearly through his strong accent, to the effect that “future wars are in the hands of the media, and their words are more effective than bullets.”

Somehow, his brief scripted remarks were among the least controversial at a conference about the “Media War on Islam” on Sunday night at a Toronto-area Islamic centre, in which the Christmas Day underwear bomber was described as the tool of an Israeli plot; Barack Obama was referred to as “Mr. Black Man”; al-Qaeda was called “the figment of the imagination of the West”; and a video was shown that mocked 9/11 by putting the Muppet Show logo over slow-motion footage of the second plane’s impact, with screams of terror for audio.

According to the Post, the main organizer of the event was a man named Zafar Bangash. Bangash is the director of the Islamic Society of York region. Here are a few quotes from Zafar Bangash,

“Obama could never have been elected president if he were not a slave of the American establishment.”

“Under Obama, there is a greater chance that the US would now launch wars in Africa. A black man in the white house would be better able to pacify African-American sentiment than a white man.”

“Immediately after winning the Democratic Party nomination for president, he went to prostrate before America’s real masters: the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.”

“The first appointment Obama made after winning the election was that of Rahm Israel Emmanuel as his White House chief of staff.”

“Obama’s presidency will not usher change; it will mean more of the same: American and Zionist crimes under a different face with a smooth tongue.”

and other troubling quotes from Bangash,

The West is “murderous, racist and virulent”

Canada is a “fully paid-up member of the Anglo-Saxon mafia, which is responsible for most of the recorded genocides in the world”

“Muslims must strive to overthrow the oppressive systems in their societies through Islamic revolutions, and not by participating in fraudulent elections organized by the elites operating through various political parties that actually divide the people.”

“Muslims have to get their own act together and unite their efforts under a single leadership — that of the leading edge of the Islamic movement, Islamic Iran — to work toward the common goals of the Ummah [Muslim World].”

you can read more here, here and here.

So, what does this have to do with Omar Khadr? Here’s Zafar Bangash with Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney,
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CTV reported that Bangash made the following statement regarding Omar Khadr,

We have put in place arrangements whereby [Omar Khadr] will be accommodated with another family and he will be under close supervision as you can see this plan has the support of members of different faith communities and we of course are one of them, the Muslim community in Canada. He would be provided spiritual counselling as well as assessed periodically to see what kind of progress he is making.

That’s quite a support group. Here’s the CBC’s report,

Later Wednesday, Khadr’s lawyers and Muslim leaders unveiled details of a plan they say will help Khadr gradually integrate back into Canadian society during a news conference in Toronto.

The group, which included lawyer Dennis Edney, Islamic Society of York Region president Zafar Bangash and Canadian Arab Federation head Mohamed Boudjenane, urged Harper to meet with them before Obama’s visit so he can pass along a formal request.

“Call us. Meet with us. Whatever it takes. But your obligation, Mr. Harper, is to bring Omar home and allow him to heal,” said Edney.

The group has signed and delivered a three-page letter to Harper outlining details of the plan.

“We urge you to act expeditiously and request the repatriation of Omar Khadr to Canada, without further delay,” says the letter.

“Our plan is designed to allow eminent organizations, representing a broad cross-section of Canadian institutions and agencies, to take legal responsibility for designing, implementing and supervising all aspects of Omar’s life in Canada, until such time as he is able to become a fully functioning member of the Canadian mosaic.”

Khadr will live with host families and receive spiritual counselling from leading Muslim clerics, it says. Much of his living costs will be paid for by dozens of Canadian Muslim organizations.

Tim Hudak comes by the office

Our office in downtown Ottawa today hosted potential Ontario PC leadership candidate Tim Hudak for a meet and greet with friends and colleagues on Parliament Hill today. Many thanks to Dimitri Pantazopoulos and Phil von Finkenstein for coordinating and to Chris Froggatt for tieing it all together.

Hudak spoke about returning Ontario to a clear sense of conservatism and will be attending the Manning Centre conference this weekend.

On the developing news front, I’ve learned that Hudak is receiving the endorsement of Rob Nicholson, the federal minister of Justice. Does Froggatt’s involvement with today’s event mean that endorsement from his boss John Baird will follow?

The Manning Centre is hosting a reception tonight prior to our conference and I can confirm that Tim Hudak, Christine Elliott, Randy Hillier and Peter van Loan will be in attendence. The Manning Centre conference will be the first significant venue for leadership pre-campaigning.

Rob Nicholson on section 13a

Here is P-203:

P-203 Modify HRC Jurisdiction PROPOSED BY VICTORIA AND KELOWNA – LAKE COUNTRY

iii) The Conservative Party supports legislation to remove authority from the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal to regulate, receive, investigate or adjudicate complaints related to Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The vote concluded at the plenary and passed. Nicholson voted “yes”.

Liveblogging the cabinet shuffle

9:52AM: Rob Nicholson, Gail Shea, Leona Aglukkaq, Peter Kent and Peter van Loan, Chuck Strahl show up to Rideau Hall

9:52AM: And Christian Paradis, Jim Prentice. CTV has speculated Prentice to environment.

9:54AM: John Baird has arrived.

9:55AM: Some MPs showing up in Blue Line cabs, some in airport cabs, some in their own cars.

9:55AM: Rona Ambrose shows up. Rumour is she’ll move to HRSDC.

10:00AM: Lynne Yelich is at Rideau Hall and Stockwell Day

10:01AM: James Moore arrives

10:03AM: Rahim Jaffer has shown up. Probably to support his newlywed wife Helena Guergis.

10:06AM: Jim Flaherty arrives with wife Christine Elliot.

10:08AM: The Prime Minister’s motorcade makes its way up to Rideau Hall.

10:16AM: Rumour is that Jason Kenney is moving to Citizenship and Immigration. You heard it here first.

10:25AM: Cabinet embargo about to end. Should have the list up soon.

10:31AM: Other MPs at Rideau Hall: Bev Oda, Peter MacKay, Keith Ashfield, Gary Lunn, Chuck Strahl, Gordon O’Conner, Tony Clement, Gerry Ritz, Stephen Fletcher, and Lawrence Cannon.

10:40AM: Here we go. Here comes cabinet into the hall.

10:44AM: Nicholson stays in Justice, no surprise there.

10:45AM: Greg Thompson at Veterans Affairs, Chuck Strahl at INAC, Vic Toews at Treasury Board

10:48AM: Bev Oda at CIDA, Flaherty at Finance, Gerry Ritz at Agriculture

10:50AM: Jean-Pierre Blackburn to Revenue. Aglukkaq to Health. Finley to HRSRC.

10:55AM: Raitt to NRCan, Day to International Trade and Asia-Pacific Gateway.

10:55AM: Ambrose to Labour.

10:58AM: Prentice to environment. The could be to negotiate new regs with the provinces when it comes to GHG emissions. Alberta will need to sit down with the federal government soon to finalize the new regulations for the oil and gas sector.

11:00AM: Baird goes to Transport/Infrastructure.

11:01AM: Cannon goes to Foreign Affairs.

11:02AM: Tony Clement goes to Industry.

11:05AM: Josee Verner to intergovernmental affairs.

11:05AM: Jay Hill to House Leader.

11:05AM: PVL to Public Safety.

11:07AM: Jason Kenney to Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

11:08AM: Christian Paradis to Public Works.

11:09AM: James Moore to Heritage and Official Languages.

11:14AM: Gail Shea to Fisheries.

11:16AM: Gary Lunn to Sport.

11:17AM: Gordon O’Connor to Government Whip.

11:18AM: Helena Guergis to Status of Women.

11:19AM: Diane Ablonczy stays at Small Business.

11:20AM: Rob Merrifield to Minister of State (Transport).

11:22AM: Lynne Yelich to Western Economic Diversification.

11:24AM: Steven Fletcher to Democratic Reform.

11:27AM: Gary Goodyear to Minister of State for Science and Technology. Goodyear will work closely with Minister of Industry Tony Clement.

11:29AM: Denis Lebel to economic development for Quebec. Lebel will be the cash man for Quebec and this will help him electorally.

11:31AM: Keith Ashfield to ACOA.

11:32AM: Peter Kent to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas).

Final cabinet speculation

Mostly certain:
– Prime Minister Stephen Harper
– Flaherty to stay in Finance (confirmed by numerous people in the department)
– Baird moving (confirmed)
– Clement moving
– Guergis moving (family has flown in, and hair appointment booked early AM tomorrow apparently)
– Bernier not in cabinet
– Aglukkaq in cabinet
– Prentice staying in Industry (no indication of a move from bureaucrats or political staffers up until midnight)
– Lunn moving (family has flown in)
– Verner moving
– MacKay stays in defence
– a good number of Secretaries of State named

Responsibly speculative:
– Cannon in foreign affairs (heard this from a high level source on Tuesday night)
– Kenney at CIC
– Nicholson stays in Justice
– Strahl stays at INAC
– Clement in trade
– Baird in transport
– Verner to intergovernmental affairs
– Ambrose to HRSDC
– Shea or Duncan in Fisheries
– Raitt in cabinet
– James Moore promoted

Wildly and so irresponsibly speculative:
– Raitt to get NRCan (doubtful)
– Liberal crosses the floor and enters cabinet (sourced at a high level, but I don’t see it happening. Yet, a number of Liberals staffers have been confirming they’ve heard the same rumour for days)
– Rob Moore in cabinet

Ontario by-elections

Two by-elections are upcoming this fall in Ontario and I’ve got a bit of info on these individuals and the timing of the contest to be called by the Prime Minister.

Maureen Harquail will be taking on Martha Hall Finley from the Liberals in Willowdale and Mark Warner will be appealing for votes in Toronto-Centre as he battles against former Liberal leadership contender and NDP Premier of Ontario Bob Rae.

Harquail has completed reserve duty with the Canadian armed forces and was an environmental prosecutor. She also happens to be the cousin of federal finance minister Jim Flaherty. The cousin connection has already come in handy as the Tories are said to be packing their war-chest for the riding pre-writ by bringing in some highly visible cabinet minsters for fundraisers. Peter MacKay has already been seen in the riding pitching for Harquail, and besides cousin Jim, environmental minister John Baird is also expected to raise some funds for the Tories in Willowdale. Willowdale consists of significant jewish, korean, persian and japanese communities among others. Retiring Liberal MP Jim Peterson won the riding last time for the Grits by 14,000 votes, however, a significant portion of that support rested in Peterson’s popular personality rather than the Liberal Party. Yet, Willowdale should be a challenging riding for the Tories to pick up. At this point, the NDP have yet to forward a candidate and Harquail would only benefit from a strong NDP effort in that riding against the Grits.

Mark Warner will be challenging for Toronto Centre. Warner is a lawyer will some impressive credentials that include lecturing in law and practicing for the OECD internationally. In the riding, Warner will have a bit of work to do as the Tories only secured 18% of the vote in the last election. We may, however, see some split with the “progressive” side of the spectrum with NDP voters showing up to vote against Rae, and a relatively stronger Green presence there. Plus as Warner is running for the incumbent government, this may produce a small boost. Warner was acclaimed February 9th and has already hosted a couple of successful fundraisers including one with justice minister Rob Nicholson and popular Ontario candidate Tim Hudak. Despite the good fundraising start, Warner is still a bit of a long shot in this realist’s opinion.

I’ve heard from a couple of senior Tories that the by-elections will be called after the provincial election. Former Toronto city councillor David Shiner, the provincial challenger in Willowdale is likely to be a bellwether for Harquail’s success in that same riding federally. The Tories may be angling to hold the federal contests after the provincial election in order not to be seen as interfering in provincial politics and to tap into the mood of the electorate after the provincial contest (whether to balance a McGuinty win, or buttress a breakthrough by John Tory)

Rumours and fact

Yesterday, I reported at 1:30pm that no cabmin would lose their job and that cabinet would grow. Craig Oliver broke the news in the MSM about 8.5 hours later on CTV nightly newscast.

I’ve been tapping many contacts and will confidently predict that one of my minor predictions yesterday was actually wrong. Yesterday, I predicted that there wouldn’t be any growth from Alberta in cabinet.

Today, I can confidently predict that we will see Alberta get more representation in cabinet.

The Toronto Star is reporting that Wajid Khan is going to be appointed to cabinet this morning. My friends at CTV say that they won’t touch that speculation. Good for CTV, I’ve just heard that Wajid Khan will not be joining Harper’s cabinet this morning.

UPDATE 10:22am: Ontario MP Guergis in cabinet.

UPDATE 10:22am: Quebec MP Paradis in cabinet.

UPDATE 10:23am: Saskatchewan MP Ritz in cabinet.

UPDATE 10:26am: Jaffer arrived with Guergis. Speculation: Is Jaffer the the new Alberta representation?

UDPATE 10:30am: Confirmed by Ambrose. She’s out of the environment portfolio.

UPDATE: New jobs: Ambrose (intergovernmental affairs?), Baird (environment?), Solberg, Kenney (in cabinet), Toews (treasury board?), Finley, Van Loan, Jay Hill (in cabinet).

Official news: Nicholson goes to Justice and Attorney General, Lebreton gets Sec. of State (seniors), Solberg goes to Human Resources and Social Development, Toews goes to Treasury Board, Finley goes to Citizenship and Immigration, Ambrose goes to Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Privy Council, Van Loan goes to House Leader, Baird goes to Environment, Hill gets Sec. of State, Guergis gets Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Sport, Kenney gets Sec of State for Multiculturalism, Paradis gets Sec of State for Agriculture, Ritz gets Sec of State for Small Business and Tourism.