Bonice Thomas, a sister of Robert Hall, a Canadian beheaded in the Philippines by the Abu Sayyaf extremist group, is demanding an inquiry into the Canadian government’s efforts to free Hall and fellow Canadian John Ridsdel, who was also killed in captivity.
Maclean’s magazine reported that Thomas wants an inquiry into how the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau handled the high-profile kidnapping case.
Thomas said in the report that the Canadian government “literally did the least they possibly could” to help rescue her 66-year-old brother.
Hall was abducted on September 21, 2015 from a luxury marina in the Philippines along with his Filipina girlfriend Marites Flor, Ridsdel, and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad.
Hall was executed on June 13. Ridsdel was beheaded weeks earlier.
The Abu Sayyaf killed Hall and Ridsdel after repeated ransom deadlines passed without payment.
Maclean’s quoted a September 21, 2016 Facebook post by Thomas to mark the anniversary of her brother’s abduction, saying Ottawa should be “held accountable for their inaction and apathy toward two Canadians in extreme peril,” and urged others to join her call for an inquiry.
“In the last video that we saw of Robert—alive—he brokenheartedly said that he felt he had been abandoned by his government,” Thomas writes. “He was right. And it broke my heart too.”
Ottawa does not pay ransoms to kidnappers as government policy.
Macleans reported that in her Facebook post, Thomas said the Liberal government failed to do all it could to help save the hostages.
“I and the rest of my family steadfastly agree with a no-ransom policy,” she writes. “We will not pay criminals to further their criminal activity. However, I assumed—as we all did—that we, our government—CANADA—would take immediate and meaningful action to secure the safety and release of two of our sons. We were wrong.”
According to Maclean’s, Thomas spent “nine agonizing months” writing letter after letter to government agencies, Thomas says, but they received no concrete response, “aside from the occasional auto reply confirming receipt of my emails, and a snarky letter from the Defence Department saying I had the wrong department.” In the meantime, she says, Ottawa’s “bumbling and inaction” gave the kidnappers “the time they needed to sharpen their swords.”
“I’m not a politician, nor scholar, and don’t pretend to know how one government engages another government, especially regarding crimes of this calibre, but I do know that our government literally did the least they possibly could to help my brother and the other hostages,” according to her post cited by Macleans.
“Sadly, in hindsight, I see that Trudeau, [Global Affairs Minister Stéphane] Dion, the RCMP, and all other government offices involved in this file were in waaay [sic] over their heads and too focused on their single, incomplete thought—’We don’t pay ransom’—to have a plan, a strategy, or even any kind of template from which to work.”
“I’m asking all of you,” Thomas appeals in the Facebook post, “to remove your polite Canadian pants and put on your kick-some-ass Canadian pants—join me in asking for, insisting on, demanding, accountability for our hostage policies and an inquiry into the actions our government took to save the lives of Robert Hall and John Ridsdel.”
Thomas lives on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, where she works as the property manager of a lodge, according to Macleans.
A spokesman for Global Affairs Canada released a prepared statement to Maclean’s: “We would like to express our deepest condolences to the family of Robert Hall and John Ridsdel as we mark this difficult anniversary. We cannot begin to understand the terrible ordeal the family has endured, but recognize that this has been a devastating year for them. Canada condemns without reservation the brutality of the hostage-takers, and these unnecessary deaths. These were acts of cold-blooded murder and responsibility rests squarely with the terrorist group who took him hostage. We continue to work with the government of the Philippines and international partners to pursue those responsible for these heinous acts and to bring them to justice, however long it takes.”