Friday's Supreme Court ruling on the Omar Khadr case prompted renewed calls for his repatriation in the Quebec opinion pages. Many in the francophone press applauded the court's declaration that Canada and the United States are violating Mr. Khadr's Charter rights. Although the court did not order the federal government to ask the US to repatriate Mr. Khadr, the consensus in the Quebec press is that Ottawa is now left with no other defensible option.
In Saturday's edition of Le Devoir Marie-Andrée Chouinard declared, " Canada can no longer be indifferent" toward Mr. Khadr's situation. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that Mr. Khadr's rights are being violated, Ms. Chouinard argued, "Canada must do what needs to be done to put an end to this violation of rights. […]We must finally demand that he be repatriated."
In a Sunday editorial, La Presse's André Pratte echoed Ms. Chouinard's call for Mr. Khadr's repatriation. "Up until now, the Conservatives have avoided any clear explanation of their reason for dragging their heels on this issue," Mr. Pratte wrote. "Friday's judgment makes this attitude less justifiable than ever." Mr. Pratte did not find the government's initial response to the ruling very encouraging. He was dismayed to read a press release issued by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, in which "there was not one word about the court's ruling that the Canadian state had violated Omar Khadr's rights!"
Mr. Pratte's colleague Yves Boisvert was particularly incensed by Mr. Nicholson's choice of words when he claimed to be "pleased" that the court had refrained from ordering the government to ask for Mr. Khadr's repatriation. "What does he mean, 'pleased'?" Mr. Boisvert asked, before suggesting that Mr. Nicholson should have perhaps read the court's decision more carefully. "The highest court in the land just unanimously declared that the government has flouted its international commitments and violated the fundamental rights of one of its citizens […]if anything this government should be ashamed."
Column of the Week
Le Devoir's Manon Cornellier looks at how the Prorogation of parliament might be helping Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal Party. "Without Question Period, or committee meetings to attend, [the Liberals]have free reign to put themselves in the spotlight and try to reverse the impression […]that the Liberal party and its leader have nothing to offer." Ms. Cornellier points to Liberal MPs presence at anti-prorogation rallies and media coverage of the Liberal roundtable discussions as examples of the party taking advantage of the break from Parliament to raise its public profile. "The question now is how far is all this going to take the Liberals," Ms. Cornellier writes. "We will find out between now and their policy conference in March in Montreal if any of this will go beyond public relations."
Editorial of the Week
La Presse's André Pratte draws on a recent study published by the Calgary-based Canada West Foundation in what appears to be an attempt to defuse some of the anti-Alberta sentiment that has been popping up more and more frequently in the Quebec press. Quoting statistics from the study, Mr. Pratte argues that because Quebec benefits (mainly through federal transfer payments) from the prosperity of the Western oil-producing provinces, "these precious resources belong to us as well." Mr. Pratte does not recommend "ignoring the ecological impact of oil extraction," but he does want Quebeckers to start thinking about the oil sands as "a problem that concerns all Canadians, not just those in the West."