Musings —06.13.2016 07:57 AM—
The facts are wholly different, of course: in the former case, two Canadians – Robert Hall over the weekend, and John Ridsdel last month – were held hostage, and later beheaded, by an Islamic terror cell in the Phillippines when ransom was not paid.
In the latter case, many Americans – we don’t have all of their names yet – were held hostage, and/or shot to death, by an Islamic terrorist in Orlando, Florida.
The response of the Canadian government to Orlando was empathetic and appropriate: “We grieve with our friends in the US & stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ2 community after today’s terror attack,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
The government’s rhetorical response in the Ridsdel case was similar: “I am outraged by the news that a Canadian citizen, held hostage in the Philippines since Sept. 21, 2015, has been killed at the hands of his captors. Canada condemns without reservation the brutality of the hostage takers and this unnecessary death,” Trudeau said at a cabinet retreat in Alberta. Also appropriate.
If we are all honest with ourselves, however, the deaths of Ridsdel and Hall – unlike the deaths in Orlando – are no shock at all. For many months, the federal government not only was refusing to communicate with their captors – they also seemed to be aggressively going out of their way to advertise their inflexibility to the world. See here and here and (especially) here.
Is paying ransom to terrorists desirable? No. The main argument against it, of course, is that it finances terror, and facilitates more killings and kidnappings. That’s obvious.
But here’s the thing: whether it’s Conservative or Liberal, the federal government routinely refuses to negotiate with terrorists – until it does. What the federal government says, and what it does, are usually quite different.
Anyway: I’m completely torn on this. What do you think? No negotiations, ever? Negotiations, but in secret? Negotiate in the open?
(For what it is worth, there is an important historical precedent, here: during the FLQ crisis, Trudeau’s father permitted some negotiations to take place with the terrorists. The end result was the release of James Cross – and the death of Pierre Laporte.)