Lauren Heuser: Mike Duffy meets Omar Khadr—why costly Charter lawsuits won’t stop

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So, when faced with these Charter lawsuits, the government currently faces two unpalatable options: settle—as with Khadr—for sums the public finds hard to swallow; or fight a case to its finish, at great expense and potentially considerable reputational damage, which could be what happens with Duffy.

Neither sounds very satisfying, but it’s not obvious we have better alternatives. Cash awards have long been one of the ways we right wrongs. Even if money rarely remedies actual suffering, attaching a value to rights violations demonstrates they have meaning.

Would you take $10 million to spend a decade languishing in a cell while denied your legal rights?

In many cases, though, Canadians might see the justice in some compensation, but disagree with the size of an award. That surely fed much of the anger over Khadr’s settlement; now imagine if Duffy got millions. And there is undoubtedly something absurd about the idea of law-abiding taxpayers handsomely compensating individuals who we know committed immoral acts, even if they’re not legally culpable for them.

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