December 12, 2016 2:13 pm
Updated: December 12, 2016 7:37 pm

Justin Trudeau says murder of Canadian hostages is his biggest regret of 2016

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa Monday morning, Prime Minister Trudeau reflected on what he feels is his biggest regret of 2016, focusing on the death of two Canadian hostages in the Philippines.


The deaths of Canadians Robert Hall and John Ridsdel at the hands of the militant group Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines earlier this year were Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s biggest regret of 2016, he told reporters today in Ottawa. 

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Hall, 50, and Ridsdel, 68, were beheaded after deadlines set by the terrorist group to pay about $8 million for their freedom passed.

“I had responsibility for directing and articulating the Canadian position, but also the opportunity, and the responsibility, to speak with their families,” Trudeau said, calling the experience “something that was personally difficult for me.”

Canada had refused to negotiate for the men’s release, although Hall said in a video released by his captors that “my specific appeal is to the Canadian government, who I know has the capacity to get us out of here. I wonder what they are waiting for.” To what degree the statement reflected Hall’s own views is impossible to know.

Ridsdel was murdered in April, and Hall in June. Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic extremist group based in the southern Philippines, has a record of violent attacks going back to the mid-1990s.

READ: DNA test confirms severed head belongs to Canadian Robert Hall, Philippine police say

Asked Monday whether he regretted the decision, Trudeau seemed to be choosing his words carefully.

“I think people understand … that any other position would not just provide a source of significant funds to violent terrorists intent on causing more harm and taking more lives, but it would also endanger further the lives of any Canadian citizen who works, travels or lives outside our borders,” he said.

WATCH: The militant group Abu Sayyaf has killed Canadian Robert Hall, months after holding him captive in the Philippines. As Vassy Kapelos reports, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remains adamant Canada won’t pay ransoms to terror groups.

READ: Who was Robert Hall? 2nd Canadian executed by Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines

In June, after Hall’s death, Trudeau said that paying ransoms “would put a target on every Canadian” travelling abroad.

Hall’s family supported the federal government’s position.

Trudeau said Monday the killings had led him to reflect “on the fact that we live in a very dangerous world, and the responsibility that any government has to keep its citizens safe now and in the future, has to be top of mind. Any time situations come up in which we lose lives like that is going to be difficult.”

READ: Abu Sayyaf frees Filipino woman kidnapped with Canadians Robert Hall, John Ridsdel

WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed his government’s response to the murder of John Ridsdel following news that extremists have beheaded Ridsdel, one of two Canadian men who have been held hostage in the Philippines, after a ransom deadline passed.


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