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The Omar Khadr payout is so unpopular with Canadians that even a majority of Liberal supporters say the party they voted for made the wrong choice.
Poll numbers released Monday by the Angus Reid Institute reveal that 71% of people believe the Trudeau government did the wrong thing and should have fought Khadr’s civil suit in court.
This is all the more impressive considering that the public has been on the receiving end of an onslaught of lecturing this past week from those in the media and establishment circles who worked overtime to spin this deal in the best possible light.
Clearly the people trusted their own intuition and assessment of the facts more than the many attempts to rationalize this payment.
Canadians’ distaste with the reportedly $10.5 million transfer of taxpayer dollars is high across both the country and the political spectrum.
While Albertans reject it the most at 85%, the softest rejection is still a sizeable 68% – shared by both British Columbia and Quebec.
What’s most interesting is that the issue is far from being as partisan as media coverage and social media chatter made it appear. Conservatives voters are extremely opposed to the deal, coming in at 91%.
However two-thirds of both NDP (64%) and Liberal (61%) supporters are also against it. Trudeau’s decision is unpopular even within his own ranks.
And in this context it’s especially relevant to refer to it as “Trudeau’s decision”. Because 85% of respondents disagree with the idea that the Liberal government had no choice but to go down this path.
While there was an incorrect attempt to portray the initially hushed up payout as the only logical conclusion of previous court rulings, the people saw through it. They fully believe this was something the prime minister and his team decided to do, rather than were compelled to do.
The Angus Reid numbers also show that the country isn’t entirely unsympathetic to Khadr. Just over half of Canadians (54%) do believe that Khadr should have been issued an apology for his lengthy legal ordeal following his 2002 arrest in Afghanistan after a firefight.
When it comes to whether or not he was treated fairly, the answer is similarly nuanced: “Canadians most commonly answer that they are unsure (42%); slightly more are inclined to say he’s had fair treatment (34%) than unfair (24%),” the Angus Reid release notes.
People aren’t exactly willing to embrace the son of an accused al-Qaeda financier as some sort of folk hero either though.
They still have their doubts. Two thirds of Canadians agree with the statement: “Khadr remains a potential radicalized threat now living in Canada”.
There’s really only one question left. And this one’s for the prime minister: What on earth were you thinking?
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