The nauseating campaign to whip up hatred against Omar Khadr is a signal of the direction the Conservative party intends to take leading up to the 2019 federal election. Aping the racist rhetoric of Donald Trump and other demagogues, Tory leader Andrew Scheer and his colleagues are playing a classic bait and switch game, falsely appealing to the public on completely irrelevant grounds. Their true intention is not to force the federal government to reverse the Supreme Court ruling in the Khadr case – which would be utterly illegal – but to create a more reactionary political and social terrain for the next election, making it easier for the Tories to regain a majority.
This hate campaign is not about whether military veterans should receive adequate pensions, or whether Indigenous communities should have clean drinking water, to give just two examples. The Conservative Party had a decade in office to address these and many other issues. Instead, they chose to relentlessly slash taxes for the big corporations and the rich, making it “necessary” to chop public services.
Who is really at fault here? The young boy thrown into a US war of occupation, wounded in battle, and then jailed and tortured until he reluctantly signed a “confession” so that he could eventually return home? Or the politicians who refused to lift a finger while this child soldier’s human rights were stripped away?
The torrent of hate against Omar Khadr is a sickening foretaste of one frightening future – a society in which racialized peoples, women, and other sections of the population are turned into second class citizens, denied their fundamental rights. But this strategy can be defeated, starting by speaking out in support of the compensation agreement, and against the vicious bigots who use the Conservative party to advance their agenda.