POLITICS

Q&A with Patricia Edney on taking in Omar Khadr if he's granted bail

03/09/2015 10:05 EDT | Updated 05/09/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Patricia Edney is the wife of Dennis Edney, lawyer to former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr. The couple has agreed to take Khadr, 28, into their Edmonton home if he is released on bail pending his appeal of war crimes convictions in the U.S. Colin Perkel of The Canadian Press interviewed Ms. Edney, a manager with Alberta Health Services who normally keeps a low media profile, ahead of Khadr's bail hearing in late March.

CP: Does Dennis brings home his clients on a regular basis — to live with you?

Patricia Edney: [Laughs] It's consistent offering Omar to come to our home. It's consistent with Dennis's faith in Omar, his confidence in the case and the young man that we have both come to know. In my mind, it's a fairly straightforward proposition. Hopefully, we're actually able to have him come.

CP: But this is a little different from the normal routine of lawyers and clients?

Patricia Edney: Yeah, it's different from anything we have offered to any other client. That speaks to the fact that we see him as more than a client. We see him as somebody who's been abandoned by his government and suffered greatly for it. It's something we can offer.

CP: Has Dennis driven you completely crazy about this?

Patricia Edney: [Laughs] Well ... of course, it is something that has become part of our life. There's no doubt. It really has. Dennis has seen him mature into this exceptional young man.

CP: The government, of course, brands him as a hardened, unrepentant terrorist.

Patricia Edney: There's lots of evidence that he didn't kill (U.S. Sgt.) Christopher Speer — who wasn't in a role as a medic; he was a Delta Forces soldier. But even if he did, he was a child soldier. Omar was 15 when this all took place. He was a child. He is carrying a burden that is not his.

CP: What was it like for you to meet him and get to know him?

Patricia Edney: It was wonderful to first meet him. I wasn't surprised at how gentle he was, or how articulate and intelligent and gracious. It was more surprise at how tall he was. It was the physical stuff that Dennis would never have thought to fill me in on. Omar is very thoughtful.

CP: Have you had any pushback at this point, like hate mail or crank calls? Are you prepared for same?

Patricia Edney: I know there's a lot of people who hold some really negative thoughts about him. We'll be able to deal with it. The more people can understand — and that means a willingness to hear it and sometimes I don't think people are willing to hear it, including our prime minister — but if people are willing to hear it and truly understand what are the issues in Omar's story, it doesn't take much then to feel compassion.