Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney
Credits: VERONICA HENRI/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - A decision on convicted terrorist Omar Khadr's return to Canada will be based on the justice system and not politics, says Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
Kenney was responding Friday to a recent poll that found more than half of Canadians don't back Khadr's transfer from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to a Canadian jail.
When the numbers were broken down by political party, it revealed 68% of Conservative supporters were concerned by Toronto-born Khadr's eventual return.
Kenney noted the decision is now in the hands of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and will be considered based on "the law and precedent."
"These issues are considered on a legal not a political basis," Kenney said.
Khadr, 25, has been detained at the U.S. military base since he was captured at 15 in battle in Afghanistan after he threw a grenade that killed U.S. combat medic Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer.
He signed a plea deal in 2010 to serve eight years of a 40-year sentence on five charges including spying and supporting terrorism. The Canadian government agreed at the time to look favourably on his transfer back to Canada after one year.
On Friday, New Democrat foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar also rebuffed concerns over the survey suggesting 46% of NDP supporters opposed Khadr's return.
His party has been calling for his repatriation as a Canadian citizen.
"This isn't about whether you like Omar Khadr or not. It's not a popularity contest," Dewar said.
"It's about Canada's responsibility as a country."
Dewar also brushed off worries that Khadr posed a security threat to Canada and argues people were basing their responses on fear, not facts.
"He will be a big blip on the radar and I don't think people should be concerned about their security."