November 9, 2013 - No. 44

Harper Government Pursues Nefarious Racist Agenda

No Means No!
Unite with First Nations to Defend the
Right to Educate Their Children!

Our Security Lies in Defence of the Rights of All!
Disinformation About Omar Khadr to Cover Up
Harper Government's Contempt for the Rule of Law

Harper Dictatorship Continues to Violate Omar Khadr's Rights

Harper Government Pursues Nefarious Racist Agenda

No Means No! Unite with First Nations to
Defend the Right to Educate Their Children!

On October 22, the Harper Government released "Working Together for First Nation Students," the "final draft" of the Harper government's framework for its much opposed First Nations Education Act. The government plans to table it in January 2014 and use its ill-gotten majority in parliament to enact it by September 2014. The underlying premise of the final draft document is to blame First Nations for the problems that have been spawned by the Canadian state from its inception up to the current period.

The political aim of the proposed First Nations Education Act is to extinguish First Nations' hereditary, constitutional and treaty right to decide on matters related to the education of their youth and children in their own territories. This along with other proposed laws being passed by the Harper government are part of a campaign of state terror against First Nations to extinguish their historic and hereditary rights and assimilate them as mere adjuncts of Canadian society -- as ethnic groups living in municipalities, subject to state imposed laws and regulations with total disregard to their status as First peoples. This is illegal and violates international laws that protect the rights of aboriginal peoples.

The main thrust of the "Working Together for First Nation Students" is to give absolute power to the Harper government's Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. The Minister is to be the final arbiter on all matters concerning First Nations education, in particular ensuring that First Nations run their schools along the same lines as "regular" schools in the rest of Canada and, most importantly, within budget. There is no acknowledgement of the illegal underfunding of First Nations schools which has created a state of crisis in First Nations education and student outcomes. Once the law is passed, there will be no opting out unless a First Nation has some sort of separate arrangement with the state. At the same time, First Nations will have no recourse because the new Act will prevent any legal challenge to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development or any federal agent or employee for "anything done or omitted to be done in good faith" under the Act! All the responsibility and blame will be on First Nations, not the government.

Working Together for First Nation Students makes it clear that the failed educational model used in the rest of Canada is going to be imposed on First Nations and they will be provided with no additional funding. Canadians are well aware that the mainstream public education system across the land is in crisis because of funding cuts, the privatization of services, the introduction of fees for extra-curricular activities and wage and pension freezes for teachers and education workers -- all in order to pay the rich. This failed model which has compromised the quality of education and future of our children and youth is to be imposed on First Nations through the proposed Act. This arrangement will further exacerbate the crisis facing First Nations and be used to justify more Canadian state intervention in First Nations communities.

If the Harper government is serious about making the education system more effective for First Nations students, a good starting place would be to restore all of the funding that has been stolen from First Nations learners from 1996, when the Chretien Liberal government capped funding for First Nations education, to the present. They would then increase funding moving forward in order to meet the increasing needs of First Nations youth and students who are the fastest growing demographic in Canada.

The deepening political and economic crisis in Canada is reflected in part by the refusal of the Harper government to recognize First Nations' rights in any way, shape or form. It requires the deepening and broadening of the political unity of the Canadian people and the First Nations to put an end to this dictate which runs roughshod over everyone's rights. The people themselves must be empowered to take control of their economic, political and social affairs and renew the political arrangements in Canada so as to establish a modern, democratic Canadian state that can co-exist peacefully with the First Nations, and which honours the historic, hereditary, and constitutional rights of First Nations to self-determination, and ends once and for all the historic wrongs committed by the Canadian colonial state against First Nations.

No Means No! No to The First Nations Education Act!
Step Up the Fight for New Political Arrangements in Canada!

Return to top

From Residential Schools to the First Nations Education Act, Colonialism Continues

Education is widely seen as a key component to future success not only for the individual children who receive that education, but also for the society to which they belong, as a whole. We use graduation rates and post-secondary degree attainment numbers to help determine the efficacy and accessibility of a system of education. More than simply informing us of how many individuals are meeting educational standards, these numbers give us fundamental information about the overall health of a society.

There is no Aboriginal system of education in Canada. This fact is sometimes obscured by misunderstandings of reserve or band schools, or even charter schools that may provide ‘indigenous content." Nonetheless, the system of education that exists in Canada is wholly Canadian, both legislatively and in terms of provision.

Inequality in Funding and Outcomes for Aboriginal Students
is a Long-Standing Issue.

Another important fact is that the Canadian system of education is failing indigenous peoples. This is not a matter of debate. Regardless of personal opinions, bigotry and stereotypes, the grim statistics paint a very clear picture. When examining access, graduation rates and post-secondary degree attainment in other countries, we do not blame individuals for egregiously poor outcomes. We do not do this, because education is a social undertaking that transcends individuals and even minority groups. It requires mobilization of all levels of government, and it impacts every single person living within the boundaries of that system of education.

The stats: outcomes

- A sizable gap in student performance between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students is already present by grade 4, with a widening of the gap by grade 7.

- 40% of Aboriginal students aged 20-24 do not have a high school diploma compared to 13% of non-Aboriginal people.

- High school non-completion rates are even more pronounced on reserve (61%) and among Inuit in remote communities (68%).

- 9% of the Aboriginal population have a university degree compared to 26% among non-Aboriginal students. 63% of Aboriginal university graduates are women.

The stats: funding

- Non-Aboriginal funding is funded by the provinces. Aboriginal education is funded federally. Non-Status Indians and Métis students receive provincial funding only.

- The federal funding formula for on-reserve schools has been capped at 2% growth per year since 1996 despite the need having increased by 6.3% per year, creating at $1.5 billion shortfall between 1996-2008 for instructional services alone.

- Only 57% of federal funding for First Nation students is allocated to First Nation schools. The rest goes to support students attending off-reserve schools.

- Unlike their provincial counterparts, First Nations schools receive no funding for library books, librarian's salaries, construction or maintenance costs of school libraries, nor funding for vocational training, information and communication technologies, or sports and recreation.

- In 2007, there was a need for 69 new First Nation schools across Canada and an additional 27 needed major renovations. Funding was only provided for 21 new schools and 16 renovation projects.

- Despite claims by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to the contrary, a recent federal report confirms that there are severe funding gaps in First Nations education that must be addressed immediately in the short-term, and that long-term improvements must be made with the active participation of First Nations stakeholders.

- Post-secondary funding, available only to Status Indians and Inuit, has been historically inadequate to meet funding needs, and has created a backlog of 10,589 students between 2001-2006 who were denied funding.

(The statistics cited above are from the C.D. Howe Institute's 2008 Report Understanding the Aboriginal/Non-Aboriginal Gaps in Student Performance.)

The First Nations Education Act: The Top Down Approach Again

Despite repeated reports (from the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in 1996, to this latest report tabled in 2012) which recommend that the federal government cease acting unilaterally and without consultation with First Nations, that is precisely what has happened yet again with the First Nations Education Act.

No one has actually seen this Act, which is supposed to be put into place in September of 2014. Instead, a draft plan has been created which will be 'shared with First Nations communities for their input.' The federal government claims it has been adequately consulting First Nations all along, but First Nations leaders have been vociferous in their dissatisfaction with this process. 'Consultation' leading up to the draft consisted of 8 consultation sessions, about 30 teleconferences, and some online activities.

The Canadian government has an absolutely dismal record with respect to indigenous education. Why anyone would believe that this time they can get it right, without even truly consulting or working with the people who will be most affected by any policy decision, is a complete mystery.

No Thanks, We'll Do It Ourselves

Indigenous education means indigenous planning, development, and control.

Canada needs to finally listen to what indigenous peoples have been demanding for years: that our cultures and languages be given more importance in our systems of education. This focus has been supported by so many publications including (but not limited to):

- Indian Control of Indian Education, 1972
- Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996
- Final Report of the Minister's Working Group on Education, 2002
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007
- First Nation Control of First Nation Education, 2010
- Report of the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, 2011
- Joint FNEC-NAN-FSIN Report, 2011
- Report of the National Panel, 2012

In 1978 and 1979, the Mohawk communities of Kahnawake and Akwesasne opened their own schools respectively named the Kahnawake Survival School (high school) and the Akwesasne Freedom School (elementary, junior high). Focusing on cultural and linguistic immersion and academic excellence, the schools are community funded, the infrastructure was built by the community, and each school has created its own curriculum. In essence, these are private schools which have had to form relationships with provincial authorities to ensure that their students graduate with recognized credentials that will be accepted in post-secondary institutions.

These two schools embody the implementation of recommendations in numerous federal reports as well as the stated needs and aspirations of indigenous communities. They are not the only examples of solutions created and implemented by indigenous peoples, but the fact remains that the Canadian system of education does not provide adequate space for the widespread development of an indigenous system of education.

When public funding of Aboriginal education has been so woefully inadequate, and federal control has even been criminally incompetent, it is unacceptable for the Canadian government to yet again attempt to ram through a piece of legislation that cannot possibly fix the problem. You cannot fix the ills caused by a top-down approach by implementing more top-down policies.

Indigenous communities as a whole simply do not have the internal resources to create an entire system of private schooling in order to rectify the horrendous gap that has always existed between native and non-native student outcomes. If you can judge a society by its system of education, then Canada stands clearly guilty of discriminating against indigenous peoples by allowing this situation to continue; and worse, by perpetuating it through another unilateral attempt to 'do what's best for the Indians'.

If you were wondering why so few native people are in support of the proposed First Nations Education Act, I hope you have a better sense of the issue now. My thanks.

*Chelsea Vowel is a Métis lawyer from the Plains Cree speaking community of Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta. She now lives and works in Montreal.

(Source: Huffington Post)

Return to top

First Nations Elections Act -- Bill C-9

 An Instrument to Subvert First Nations Sovereignty
on Behalf of the Monopolies

On October 29, the Harper government tabled Bill C-9, the First Nations Elections Act in the House of Commons. In its press release, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development noted: "This proposed legislation takes action on the Government's commitment to provide all Canadians with strong, accountable and transparent government. It is also an example of how working in partnership with First Nations can lead to positive results."

In speaking to this proposed legislation, Bernard Valcourt, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development said that his government "is proud to support this historic legislation that will provide willing First Nations with a robust framework for real improvements in their elections." It is amazing that the Minister can stand in Parliament and say this with a straight face when everyone including First Nations know by direct experience that the Harper government is neither transparent nor accountable and is mired in corruption and has no credibility whatsoever. It obtained its majority government by foul means and with less than 25 per cent of the eligible votes. It is hardly qualified to pontificate to First Nations on elections or democracy.

Furthermore, Bill C-9 is in violation of Article18 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which enshrined the right of indigenous peoples to choose their own representatives, their own procedures, and to maintain their own indigenous decision-making institutions.

The Minister also points out: "This new system will give First Nations who choose to elect their leaders under it the political stability necessary for solid business investments and long term planning that will lead to increased economic development, job creation and improved quality of life for the community."

Thus, it can be seen that Bill C-9 has nothing to do with "strong, accountable and transparent" government. It has everything to do with subverting and undermining the leadership of those First Nations who are resisting the encroachment of their lands and resources by the rapacious oil, gas, and mineral resource monopolies. The "stable government" it refers to is a euphemism for destabilizing and dislocating First Nations communities from their lands and resources in Canada as is being done to indigenous peoples in Latin America, Asia and other parts of the world.

The government purports that the new Act will be optional and particularly suited for those 238 First Nations who hold their elections within the framework of the Indian Act. However Bill C-9 gives the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development the power to impose the new law, once passed, on any First Nation deemed not in compliance with the Harper government's self-serving definition of "stable government."

Long before the settlers came to the territory now known as Canada, First Nations had developed their own systems of governance based on their own traditions and needs and had their own constitutions such as the Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace. These systems of governance were complex and included political arrangements for themselves and their confederacies including methods for choosing leaders, terms of office, roles and responsibilities of those who wielded authority and so on as well as protocols on the rights and responsibilities of the members of the First Nations. These systems were systematically subverted by the colonial powers that imposed their own "band councils" and other outside models to replace these traditional systems of indigenous governance so as to facilitate the assimilation of First Nations into Canadian society. The Harper government's First Nations Elections Act is the latest assault on the rights of First Nations to sovereignty.

The issue of governance concerns both the Canadian people and First Nations. The electoral system in Canada, which the Harper government wants to impose on First Nations through Bill C-9 to ensure "stable government," negates the right of Canadian people to governance and marginalizes them politically. Without enjoying the right to governance, it is impossible for the people to exercise political power to determine all the affairs that concern them and their society. Canada's political and economic system is in crisis and the Harper government which represents the narrow interests of a tiny group of monopoly capitalists and their interests, resorts to force and criminalizes the struggles of the First Nations and the Canadian people. This is the opposite of what the Canadian people and First Nations peoples want. We have common cause in fighting side-by-side for the renewal of the political system in Canada so the right to governance can be vested in the people and in First Nations free of the legacy of racism, colonialism and violence that has marked Canada's relationship with First Nations to date.

No to the First Nations Elections Act!
Step up the Struggle for Democratic Renewal!

Return to top

Bill C-9 -- For Your  Information

The Harper government re-introduced Bill C-9 in the House of Commons on October 29, 2013. This Bill -- "An act respecting the election and term of office of chiefs and councillors of certain First Nations and the composition of council of those First Nations" was first introduced in December 2011 as Bill C-6. The Harper government claimed it was in response to pressure from certain First Nations to clean up the elections process for those 238 First Nations which conduct their elections within the framework of the Indian Act. Bill C-6 was opposed by many First Nations as an infringement of their hereditary rights to conduct their elections as they themselves decide, not as the Harper government decides. Still, Bill C-6 was passed by the Senate. It was stalled when parliament was prorogued by the Harper government earlier this year.

Currently, of the 617 First Nations in Canada, about 238 (roughly 40 per cent) hold elections in accordance with the election provisions of the Indian Act. An additional 343 First Nations (55 per cent) have community-designed or custom election codes while 36 First Nations (five per cent) select leaders pursuant to constitutions contained in their self-government agreements.

According to the information provided by the Harper government, the First Nations Elections Act would be advantageous to those First Nations who currently hold elections under the Indian Act, by introducing some "robust measures" that will lead to "stability" in First Nations communities.

The provisions of Bill C-9 would: replace the current two-year terms in office for band council members and Chiefs with four-year terms; remove the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development's role to decide elections appeals and enable any First Nations member to contest election results in federal court; allow a group of First Nations to hold elections on the same day if they so choose; enable individual First Nations, if they choose, to charge a candidacy fee of no more than $250 to be refunded if the candidate gains a minimum of five per cent of the votes cast; include penalties for obstruction of the elections process and committing elections fraud and regulations concerning mail-in ballots, advance polls and a mechanism for the recall of elected officials through the use of a petition.

The most important aspect of the proposed legislation is that while the First Nations may opt out, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development has the power to compel the 238 First Nations who currently run their elections within the provisions of the Indian Act, as well as the 343 First Nations conducting their elections through their own customs outside the Indian Act to come under this regime if there is deemed to be "irregularities" in the way in which they conduct elections. This is extremely worrisome as the Harper government, which engaged in voter suppression and other irregularities during the last federal election in 2011, is hardly qualified to intervene to prevent "irregularities" in First Nations elections.

Bill C-9 is modeled on Canadian election laws. Clearly it is aimed at creating strife and splitting First Nations communities through the electoral process allowing direct state intervention in First Nations governance, especially that of those First Nations not in step with the Harper agenda of opening up their lands and resources to outside business monopolies. The vast majority of First Nations across Canada have opposed this Bill since it was introduced as Bill C-6 in December 2011 as it violates their right to choose their leaders in their own way and the Harper government has no business dictating to them on this matter.

This Bill has passed first and second readings in the House of Commons and is now before the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

Return to top

Our Security Lies in Defence of the Rights of All!

Disinformation About Omar Khadr to Cover Up Harper Government's Contempt for the Rule of Law

Action in Toronto, January 17, 2009,  denounces Harper government's silence and prevarications on its responsibility to remove Canadian citizen Omar Khadr from U.S. military custody, abuse and torture, and return him to Canada.

Omar Khadr was a 15-year old youth when he was shot and captured in 2002 after U.S. special forces attacked a village Khadr was in. Khadr was accused by U.S. forces of killing a U.S. special forces "medic" following the attack on the village as well as supporting terrorism. He was held at the U.S. torture camps in Bagram and Guantanamo Bay for 10 years during which he was subjected to all kinds of terror, abuse and torture. In the fall of 2010 Khadr "pled" to certain offenses in return for a further eight year sentence and "assurances" he could return to Canada to serve the remainder of his time after one more year in Guantanamo. He was finally repatriated on September 29, 2012.

The Harper dictatorship and the monopoly media refer to Omar Khadr as a "convicted war criminal," despite being the victim of war crimes. Harper also states that Omar Khadr pled guilty to "heinous crimes" as justification for his continued mistreatment. This is deliberate disinformation. To its shame, instead of affirming Khadr's rights while in captivity in Guantanamo, the Canadian government facilitated his detention, sending CSIS agents to interrogate him instead of diplomatic officials in an effort to get him to admit his "guilt" in order for the Canadian government to "help" him.

Omar Khadr is the only U.S. captive ever tried for murder in the death of a soldier fighting in the illegal U.S. invasions and wars against the people of Afghanistan or Iraq. Omar Khadr is also the first juvenile prosecuted for war crimes in modern-day history. His prosecution violates numerous international agreements and principles which offer children special protection and mandate rehabilitation and the reintegration of child soldiers into society, not punishment.

To suggest that Omar Khadr has been convicted of any crime whatsoever in a legitimate court of law is simply untrue. He was tried in a U.S. military kangaroo court under the Military Commissions Act. This system was established to circumvent the courts and present a thin veneer of legality while making conviction a certainty. In the military commission system, "evidence" obtained by torture is accepted. It was recently revealed that hundreds of thousands of defence lawyers' emails had been turned over to the prosecution. Since Khadr's trial, two similar military commission verdicts had been thrown out on appeal because the crimes did not exist under the international law of war.

Omar Khadr's guilty plea cannot be construed as proof of his guilt any more than a "confession" reached through torture. It is well known that Omar did not want to plead guilty to the charges against him because he is not a terrorist. It is well known that after eight years at Bagram and Guantanamo, Khadr was faced with agreeing to a plea bargain or certain conviction with a likely sentence of 40 years to life.

Even the claim that he was found guilty of "war crimes" is more disinformation. The U.S. claimed that Khadr was not entitled to be treated as a child soldier because he was not in uniform and therefore not a soldier. This led to a sticky problem for the Obama administration. The New York Times reported that, "The uniform issue also led to a scramble by the Obama legal team to rewrite commission rules on the eve of a hearing for Mr. Khadr. Because Central Intelligence Agency drone operators also kill while not wearing uniforms, the team rewrote the rules to downgrade 'murder in violation of the laws of war' to a domestic law offense from a war crime to avoid seeming to implicitly concede that the C.I.A. is committing war crimes."

Violating Omar Khadr's rights, assisting in his torture and denying him an education does not make Canada more secure. Far from it, Omar Khadr's case is a prime example of how the Harper dictatorship invokes the threat of terrorism to cover up its violation of Canadians' rights and its contempt for the rule of law, both at home and abroad.


Senator Romeo Dallaire spoke about Khadr's case in the Senate on June 29, 2012. "Honourable senators, I am rising now to put on the record the case of the only child soldier prosecuted for war crimes," he said. Dallaire stated that Canada played a leading role in drafting and promoting the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, specifically addressing child soldiers. This convention entered into force in 2002 and has been signed by 130 countries, and the optional protocol signed by 150 countries, Dallaire said. Yet Canada is not implementing the protocol in the case of Omar Khadr, he added.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) did not cite a minimum age for criminal responsibility, but no one under 18 appeared before the tribunals. Wikipedia states that "David Crane the first Chief Prosecutor of the Sierra Leone tribunal, chose to interpret the statute so that the tribunal's policy was to prosecute those who recruited the children rather than the children themselves no matter how heinous the crimes they had committed."

Crane wrote: "Omar Khadr, a young Canadian, could have been a child in Sierra Leone. But he was in Afghanistan, in similar circumstances, not of his making or under his control, in an environment from which, as a child, there was no escape. Legally, morally, and politically the international community, including the United States, has separated out children from the horrors of combat, to protect and nurture, to rehabilitate and support, not to punish. No children found in combat should be held liable for their acts. The jurisprudence of the Special Court for Sierra Leone demonstrates that this is the legal standard of the world community and of the United States." (Prosecuting Children in Times of Conflict: The West African Experience. See here)

Return to

Harper Dictatorship Continues to
Violate Omar Khadr's Rights

Some 120 people from all walks of life came out to show support for Omar Khadr at his Edmonton court hearing,
September 23, 2013. (

On September 23, Omar Khadr appeared for the first time in a Canadian court as his lawyers argued that he should be moved from the Edmonton Maximum Security Prison into a provincial facility where educational opportunities and programs to facilitate his parole will be available.

A rally took place before court began outside the courthouse with banners and signs stating, "Omar Khadr is Welcome Here" and "We Are With You Omar Khadr." Every seat in the courtroom was filled as people from all walks of life came to show their support, and the hearing had to be delayed until an overflow room with video feed was set up, which quickly filled as well. It was a poignant moment for both Omar and his supporters as they sat face to face for the first time, communicating with broad smiles.

Omar's lawyer Dennis Edney argued that Omar must be considered a juvenile under the International Transfer of Offenders Act that governed his repatriation to Canada, and thus he cannot be incarcerated in a maximum security jail. Under the act, prisoners ages 12 to 17 are considered juveniles if they receive a youth sentence. Khadr received a global sentence of eight years in a military kangaroo court for the five charges he faced, the most serious being the charge of murder for the death of a U.S. soldier in a fire fight. An eight year sentence for charges including murder is without question a youth sentence, so the federal government had to stretch credulity to the limit to find a pretext to keep Khadr in the Edmonton "Max." The federal government's lawyer argued that the Canadian system must interpret the sentence as one youth sentence for murder and four adult sentences for the lesser charges, each sentence to be served concurrently with the youth sentence. In other words, the federal government lawyer argued that the military court tried Khadr as a youth for the most serious charge and as an adult for the lesser charges. Associate Chief Justice J.D. Rooke of Edmonton reserved his decision, stating that he was doing so in order to provide written reasons for the decision.

Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured and tortured at the notorious Bagram prison before being sent to Guantanamo Bay. He has just turned 27, and has spent most of the last 12 years in solitary confinement. Omar was finally repatriated to Canada in 2012 and has been in the maximum security jail in Edmonton since May. The Harper dictatorship has brutally mistreated Omar Khadr as a warning, showing how far it will go with those who do not submit.

The Supreme Court of Canada concluded that the Canadian government had violated Omar Khadr's rights. "Interrogation of a youth, to elicit statements about the most serious criminal charges while detained in these conditions and without access to counsel, and while knowing that the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the U.S. prosecutors, offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects," the court said in its decision.

However the Court agreed with the government's argument that this was a matter of foreign affairs and as such lay within the government's arbitrary or prerogative powers and thus left the remedy to the federal government.

The federal government which the Supreme Court found had violated his rights did not take this opportunity for even the smallest step towards redress for its brutal participation in the torture and mistreatment of a young Canadian. Not content with mobilizing the legal resources of the state to try to keep Omar Khadr in maximum security, the Harper dictatorship blatantly interfered with the court. Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement that "It is very important that we continue to vigorously defend against any attempts, in court, to lessen his punishment for these heinous acts."

Imprisoned since he was 15, Omar Khadr has been denied an education. He is now studying to complete high school with the assistance of faculty from King's College in Edmonton, but conditions and regulations at the "Max" present many barriers. His lawyer argued that a provincial institution will facilitate educational opportunities and eligibility for parole. All Canadians should be alarmed when the Harper dictatorship declares that the punishment of a youth requires that they be denied an education.

Despite years of solitary confinement, torture and isolation, Omar's dignity and spirit were evident. "Stay strong," his supporters called out after the judge had left the courtroom.

TML spoke with many people present, many of whom have been active in organizing meetings and rallies, writing and signing petitions and letters, and raising funds for Omar Khadr's legal defence. Many people expressed their outrage that the Canadian government continues to mistreat Omar Khadr. They pointed out that the Harper government and the monopoly media are engaging in disinformation when they speak of Khadr as a "convicted war criminal."

Court Rules Omar Khadr Must Remain in Maximum Security Prison

On October 18, Edmonton Associate Chief Justice Rooke issued his ruling denying the request to transfer Omar Khadr from the federal maximum security penitentiary to a provincial institution. The decision rejected the habeas application heard on September 23 that the Canadian government was illegally holding Khadr as an adult for offences committed as a juvenile.

Justice Rooke echoed Prime Minister Harper's statement in his conclusion. "Indeed, it is not about any determination of the level of punishment, whether lessening or increasing it, that, post his transfer, has been or will be imposed on Mr. Khadr, such punishment merely flowing from his sentence and the legislation that determines his placement. In other words, placement does not involve increasing or decreasing the seriousness of punishment -- the sentence is the punishment," Justice Rooke said.

Having stated that his ruling would deal only with statutory interpretation, the court in effect proceeded as though Omar Khadr had been tried in a court of law rather than a kangaroo court, despite the fact that the decision to put Omar Khadr on trial violated the international norms for child combatants.

The court agreed with the Harper government lawyers that the eight year global sentence reached through a "plea bargain" was actually one youth sentence for the most serious charge and four adult sentences for the remaining charges, and therefore Khadr's detention in a maximum security penitentiary is legal. As to whether it was just, the court had nothing to say.

Concerned citizens in Edmonton continue to organize to present the real facts of Omar Khadr's case. On November 12 a talk, "Omar Khadr: The Man -- The Law," will take place at King's University College with U.S. Attorney Samuel Morison as featured speaker.

Return to top


Read The Marxist-Leninist Daily
Website:   Email: