The Equitas Society “insists that the rights of disables veterans are no less important than (Omar) Khadr’s, or those of any other citizen.” (Equitas Society website, file photo)

Rights of disabled veterans ‘no less important than Khadr’s: Equitas

White-Rock-based society renews effort after federal lawsuit settled for $10.5 million

A White Rock-based veterans-support organization is calling for improved compensation and restored pensions for disabled soldiers, in light of last week’s report that the Canadian government has settled a $10.5-million civil suit with Omar Khadr.

Khadr is a Canadian citizen who, after being was taken to Afghanistan as a teenager by his father, was affiliated with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. He was detained by the U.S. for 10 years – mainly at Guantanamo Bay – after a 2002 firefight between American and Taliban forces in which Khadr, then 15, is alleged to have thrown a grenade that killed U.S. soldier Sgt. Christopher Speer.

The July 4 reporting of the government’s wrongful-imprisonment settlement with Khadr – which includes an official apology – has drawn criticism from some corners.

However, Equitas Society, in an official statement issued Thursday, simply calls for equal treatment for the country’s vets, and calls on the federal Liberals to “uphold its obligations and respect the Charter rights of Canadian disabled soldiers.”

In the release, Equitas “insists that the rights of disabled veterans are no less important than Mr. Khadr’s, or those of any other citizen.”

The New Veterans Charter, which came into effect in 2006, stripped disabled veterans of lifelong disability pension in favour of lump-sum payments, Equitas notes.

“I know many Canadians are outraged by Mr. Khadr receiving over $10 million of taxpayer money, but every Canadian should be even more outraged that Prime Minister (Justin) Trudeau is treating our disabled veterans so very poorly,” said Marc Burchell, president of Equitas Society.

“The Equitas Society and its legal team remain committed to obtaining fair compensation for our disabled veterans.”

In 2015, the statement continues, Trudeau campaigned on a promise to restore pension benefits for disables soldiers, but has since “broke his promise.”

For more on the Equitas Society, visit www.equitassociety.ca