OTTAWA - The Conservative government will not be asking the United States to send prisoner Omar Khadr home to Canada, despite a Supreme Court ruling last week that found his Charter rights were - and continue to be - violated.
"It's exactly the same decision that we have taken since the very outset of this file," Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon told reporters Wednesday.
The nine justices ruled unanimously last week that Canadian officials had violated Khadr's constitutional rights by participating in the military process at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo, Cuba.
The teenager had been subjected to sleep deprivation and had no access to a lawyer or an adult advocate, facts known to Canadian interrogators who met with him in 2003 and 2004.
The court said his rights continue to be violated as information illegally obtained in prison is used in current legal proceedings.
But the nine judges stopped short of directing the government to request his return to Canada, deferring to the government's oversight in matters of foreign affairs. Still, they warned that the courts do have the power to act if current rights violations continue to go unchecked.
Cannon said the government will continue to defer to the American justice system, while providing Khadr with consular assistance as it would any other Canadian.
"We will continue to monitor the situation as we have been doing, and my understanding is that the Americans will make a determination on that, and once that is done we'll see what the next steps are."
But on the question of Khadr's current rights situation, Cannon said Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is still reviewing that issue.
All three opposition parties have demanded Khadr's return to Canada.
"They're going to say, (the court) is not telling us what to do, so we'll do what we want, based on a strictly legal basis. Even if it is legal, it's not moral, it's immoral," said Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe.
Liberal Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae said the government needs to "get serious" about its response to the top court.
"The Attorney General of Canada has to tell us how the government intends to comply with a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada," Rae said.
Khadr was 15 years old when he was picked up by American forces in Afghanistan following a protracted firefight in which a U.S. military medic was killed. Khadr was alleged to have thrown the grenade that killed the American, and has been awaiting trial ever since.
He was supposed to go before the controversial Guantanamo Bay military commission, but that was shut down by Washington this year.
The Canadian public is split on the Khadr case, largely due to his family's reputation. His family has had professed ties to al-Qaida and once lived on Osama bin Laden's compound in Afghanistan.