The National Post has published an excerpt from a military psychologist’s report on Omar Khadr, one of the documents that Ottawa is studying before deciding on the convicted terrorist’s return to Canada. Some passages:
“Mr. Khadr produced a valid personality protocol which indicates no evidence of unusual thinking, thought disorder, or psychotic process,” the report states.
“At the same time, he is guarded as well as defensive.”
Despite coming across as charming and congenial, Hopewell concludes Khadr is manipulative, “significantly suspicious, hostile, and feels that he is being mistreated.”
“He consistently blames others for his difficulties and sees himself as the victim since ’I am the only one who survived’.”
Okay. We’re not exactly talking about a Charlie-Manson-level demagogue here. And given the Kafkaesque bureaucratic runaround that’s been happening over what to do with him, it won’t be that hard for regular people to understand his belief in his “mistreatment.”
But these characteristics aren’t exclusive to Mr. Khadr. “Blaming others for difficulties” has been a characteristic trait of — well, veteran members of the Liberal Party of Canada, for example. The past two leaders of the Liberals, in particular, were loath to admit their faults for doing so badly in the 2008 and 2011 elections.
So with that in mind, it may be worth considering the possibility of Omar Khadr pursuing a career in politics in the event he manages to return to Canada. (And why not? Given the lack of opportunity for education that he’s had, there’s not very much by way of careers that he’s qualified for.)
True, he won’t be able to do so in the 2015 election; it’s certainly possible for the federal government to stall his return for that long, and even when the inevitable happens, he’ll be serving out the seven years of that plea-bargain deal he had. But once that sentence is over and done with and he’s out, he’ll be able to vote again (according to the Canada Elections Act, section 4, the prohibition on voting applies to people in prison during the time of the election), and if he’s able to vote, he’s able to run as an MP. (A criminal record for a candidate is a political liability, but it’s not a legal one.)
Which party and where he’d run — now, that’s a question. He got burned by both the Martin and Harper governments, so both the Libranos and the Tories are out; and Tom Mulcair’s certainly astute enough to know that Khadr would be a liability to any party seriously seeking to become the government. So that leaves Elizabeth May’s Greens, and it strikes me that party just might be flaky enough to recruit Mr. Khadr as a demonstration of their “commitment to social justice.”
Farfetched? You tell me.
There is, of course, another option that some folks have been discussing about how to deal with Mr. Khadr. As far as I know it’s not covered by his plea bargain, but it’s got a big problem. That’s declaring Mr. Khadr to be a “dangerous offender” once he returns to Canada.
The problem is that it’d be one hell of a real stretch to make Mr. Khadr meet the definition of a “dangerous offender.” Here’s the definition, according to section 753 of the Criminal Code:
… the court shall find the offender to be a dangerous offender if it is satisfied
(a) that the offence for which the offender has been convicted is a serious personal injury offence described in paragraph (a) of the definition of that expression in section 752 and the offender constitutes a threat to the life, safety or physical or mental well-being of other persons on the basis of evidence establishing
(i) a pattern of repetitive behaviour by the offender, of which the offence for which he or she has been convicted forms a part, showing a failure to restrain his or her behaviour and a likelihood of causing death or injury to other persons, or inflicting severe psychological damage on other persons, through failure in the future to restrain his or her behaviour,
(ii) a pattern of persistent aggressive behaviour by the offender, of which the offence for which he or she has been convicted forms a part, showing a substantial degree of indifference on the part of the offender respecting the reasonably foreseeable consequences to other persons of his or her behaviour, or
(iii) any behaviour by the offender, associated with the offence for which he or she has been convicted, that is of such a brutal nature as to compel the conclusion that the offender’s behaviour in the future is unlikely to be inhibited by normal standards of behavioural restraint; or
(b) that the offence for which the offender has been convicted is a serious personal injury offence described in paragraph (b) of the definition of that expression in section 752 and the offender, by his or her conduct in any sexual matter including that involved in the commission of the offence for which he or she has been convicted, has shown a failure to control his or her sexual impulses and a likelihood of causing injury, pain or other evil to other persons through failure in the future to control his or her sexual impulses.
Short form: you have to prove that Mr. Khadr has a consistent pattern of criminal behaviour. That hasn’t happened during his Gitmo imprisonment, otherwise people would have heard about it during the discussions for his repatriation.
There’s also the implication that the convictions for the finding of “dangerous” status have to be consecutive, rather than concurrent. The four charges that Mr. Khadr pleaded guilty to are all concurrent, even though you could probably find their equivalents in the “dangerous offence” definitions of the Criminal Code.
Of course, if I were to quote odds I’d say Mr. Khadr’s chances of being legally classified a “dangerous offender” are slightly higher than his becoming, within the next decade, a Member of Parliament. But they’re still better than his being held in Gitmo for the rest of his natural days.