COMMENTARY: A letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
Do you remember the names Robert Hall and John Ridsdel? If not, it may not be entirely surprising. After all, not long ago you mused on a U.S. TV entertainment program about it being time for Canada’s first female Prime Minister.
Let me remind you about the family of Mr. Robert Hall. I speak with Mr. Hall’s sister Bonice and cousin Gord quite often these days, both on and off air. I haven’t yet had the opportunity yet to connect with Mr. Ridsdel’s family.
However, last weekend, just days after you approved a $10.5 million payout for Omar Khadr as compensation for the violation of his Charter rights (Canadian CSIS operatives sharing information they gleaned from a Khadr interview with their American counterparts), Bonice Thomas and Gord Bibby joined me on air and spoke freely of how your government had mistreated their family during Mr. Hall’s captivity.
You do remember, Mr. Prime Minister, that Robert Hall and John Ridsdel were kidnapped, tortured and beheaded by the ISIS-affiliated terror group Abu Sayyaf. This took place on an island in the Philippines.
Your and your government’s public statements in response to the terrified Canadians pleading for assistance was to announce grandly that Canada does not pay ransom to terror groups. Just terrorists, you might have added.
WATCH BELOW: ‘Canada does not and will not pay ransom to terrorists’: PM Trudeau comments on murder of John Ridsdel
What utterly shocked was to hear Bonice Thomas declare that your government informed the family of Robert Hall if they spoke publicly and Mr. Hall were murdered by Abu Sayyaf, the death of their beloved Robert, or as another cousin e-mailed, “Bobby,” would be on them, the family.
Bonice then spoke of having sent a communication to your Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland months ago. That communication by the sister of a kidnapped, tortured and beheaded Canadian was deemed not worthy of response. Bonice Thomas is still waiting to hear back from your Global Affairs Minister, Prime Minister Trudeau.
I don’t suppose you’ll have any greater interest in speaking with Gord Bibby on air. Mr. Hall’s cousin has requested such an exchange with you. Repeatedly.
It is the e-mail I received from Robert Hall’s cousin, the cousin who referred to Mr. Hall as Bobby, I would like you to be aware of Mr. Trudeau.
“After nine months of torture and deprivation, Bobby was beheaded by the laughing, joking terrorists who held him captive. Tess (Robert Hall’s fiancée) was freed two weeks after they made her watch Bobby being beheaded. For nine months we were not allowed to say anything to anyone, not even our eight children because we were told if anything got onto social media it would be dangerous for Bobby. So we silently prayed and did all we could for him quietly. My heart broke last June when at 4 a.m. his brother broke his forced silence and we knew Bobby’s head had been found in a bag. We received no help from our government, none. We did not expect a ransom. That would have put every travelling Canadian in danger from these barbarians, but we had no help. No effort was made to rescue them (Robert Hall & John Ridsdel), even though we know the Philippine government was ready to help us rescue them. I have talked to other families who have come out of the woodwork to share with us they have been treated the same way. We had no council or support from our foreign services department. We were on our own. My heart is sad today. That this ($10.5 million) is given to Omar Khadr when peaceful good Canadians are tossed to the wolves opens those wounds again.”
To me, Mr. Hall’s cousin added and ended her e-mail with “I was in the car going shopping listening to your show and I had to turn around and go home and cry. I am so sad.”
Not only did you sign off on a $10.5 million payout to Omar Khadr, Mr. Trudeau, you also issued a contrite apology. An apology Omar Khadr suggested would restore “a little bit” of his reputation.
That statement alone should be cause for great concern.
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