It's taken weeks -- no, years -- of frustrated waiting, but the other day anxious Canadians finally got an answer: he's in. Lefties have been swooning and right-wingers have been fuming, but the young dude with the famous name and rock-star reputation is now officially set for the long-haul. Now if only we knew what he actually believed...
We're talking, of course, about Omar Khadr. You remember him, right? The controversial Toronto-born Islamist who controversially killed an American soldier when he was controversially young during our controversial war in Afghanistan for which he was controversially jailed in America's controversial Guantanamo prison for a whole controversial decade? Saturday's long-delayed repatriation of the 20-something back to Canada has been no less -- you guessed it -- contentious.
Wasting no time, the Toronto Star editorial board quickly set the standard for heart-bleeding, releasing an obviously pre-written editorial later that day that wept profusely for this poor kid "who was effectively abandoned by his own government in the near-hysteria that followed the 9/11 attacks." Sure, he may technically be guilty of some trivial form of murder "not recognized outside of Gitmo's dubious military tribunals," but you can't deny the dude has "already done excessive time for his misdeeds."
"Now that he is finally back on Canadian soil, the corrections service and parole board should work toward freeing him at the earliest safe opportunity," they demand, presumably followed by some manner of pizza party. WITH refills.
Woah woah woah, responds the Sun News editorial team, are we reading Ontario's premiere paper of repute here or "Bob Rae's party newsletter?" You think Khadr has paid dearly for his crimes? Well, "U.S. special forces medic Christopher Speer 'paid dearly' with his life," so how 'bout that, jerks.
Uh hello, he was a child soldier, and child soldier crimes totally don't count, retorts Doug Saunders at the Globe and Mail. You know who else agreed to lift his tiny child arms in the defence of a murderous extremist ideology, writes Doug, quoting some UK lawyer -- the friggin' pope.
Everyone, please, says the Calgary Herald team. Omar's back in Canada and he's not going anywhere for a while, so let's just agree that "the debate must end." There's no point continuing to endlessly hash over who illegally detained who, or whose murder was justifiable in what context when there's still so much re-educating to do.
Canadians of all stripes need to focus on the task at hand, they say, which is subjecting young Omar to "intense psychiatric work" including a refresher course on "basic life skills" and "job training" so he can one day peacefully integrate into mainstream Canadian society.
The challenge will figuring out how much of his brainpower has atrophied after all these years of prison and propaganda. A good test would be to see whether or not he's capable of writing a knee-jerk newspaper editorial about his own saga of prosecution.
If he can, then there's still a lot of work to do.
Ol' what's-his-face, Justin whatever, was also in the news this week, as I imagine he might be for a little while (a friend of mine recently quipped that a fortune awaits the first programmer able to devise a Facebook app that replaces Justin Trudeau news stories with photos of cute puppies.)
After so many endless months of Justin gossip, you might think there's little left to say about a candidate with no positions contesting a race with no opponents, and you might be right. But alas, there's still a couple pundits out there who have yet to spill opinions on Trudeaumania 2.0, so let's all play along for a bit and pretend we're all still interested, okay?
For example, Justin's big fancy speech on Wednesday. That was totally a thing that happened that people have opinions on. Pretty mean opinions, in fact.
"Not having all the answers is not a great argument for presenting none," he zings. (I bet Bruce gives good speeches!)
Over at the Montreal Gazette, meanwhile, Don MacPherson isn't sure whether Justin's running for prime minister or "high-school student parliament" -- because he's so bad, get it -- while noted Liberal Warren Kinsella is apparently depressed enough to write own, better Justin Trudeau speech. "I am Justin Trudeau," it says, amongst other things.
There is a big trope going around, spread particularly vigorously by our buddies at the Sun News network, that the Trudeau boy is the undeserved benefactor of a grotesquely "fawning press"whose blind deference is providing all the fuel for his otherwise inexplicably swift cruise to Stornoway. And as a I note in my last column, he does undeniably benefit from a certain kind of sensationalistic media bias that favours interesting, exciting stories and politicians simply because that's what sells papers.
But from the generally sour reviews of his maiden speech to the incessantly catty critiques about his ideas and qualifications, to the glowing, desperate, and increasingly evidence-free pining for theoretical leadership candidates Garneau and Carney, it's hard to seriously argue that the Canadian commentariat is giving Justin a free ride in any meaningful sense.
What they have given him is access to a lot of open road.
But that doesn't mean he still can't crash.