This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Canada To The Rescue -- Or Not

"I always admired John [Ridsdel, abducted, beheaded] ; he was a free spirit and he found a rich, full life in the bigger world outside Canada. He was also well aware of the risks he faced in making life choices and lived a well considered life knowing those risks."
"I also know John would be appalled that his passing and the manner in which it happened would be used to close doors to international understanding, our relation to the Muslim community or our ideas about immigration. He embraced culture diversity and international understanding and had immense pride in the roles his daughters were playing in their chosen fields."
Bob Foulkes, Vancouver consultant

"He [Canadian Robert Hall, abducted by Abu Sayyaf along with John Ridsdel, for ransom] talked about the people being amazing and it being such a beautiful place. He just raved about it."
"I asked him, 'Will you come back to Canada?' And he said, 'I don't think so. I love it'. And then this happened and you go, oh my goodness. All your hopes and dreams."
Yvonne Coccio, British Columbia

"I appeal to my family, the Philippine government, and the Canadian government. 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."
Robert Hall, 50, Canadian adventurer
A still image captured from video footage of the kidnappers and their victims is shown in this SITE Intelligence Group video made available to Reuters. File photo

"Canada does not and will not pay ransom to terrorists, directly or indirectly."
"Obviously, this is a significant source of funds for terrorist organizations that then allow them to continue to perpetrate deadly acts of violence against innocents around the world."
"But more importantly, paying ransom for Canadians would endanger the lives of every single one of the millions of Canadians who live, work and travel around the globe every single year."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
And there are plenty of them, those Canadians "who live, work and travel around the globe". Almost 59 million trips were made by Canadians in 2013 to foreign parts. And almost 2.8 million Canadians live overseas. They can be found in remote and dangerous locations; some, like John Ridsdel in exploration for undiscovered mineral reserves. And then there are aid workers and missionaries feeling morally driven to offer their help to people in developing countries.

Canadians, in the past several years, have been abducted by criminal and terrorist groups across Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Experts feel that these abductions are a rising phenomenon as terrorist groups realize they can be useful in raising funds for their operational expenses. Canadians, however, cannot reasonably expect their government to be able always unfailingly to rescue them when they find themselves in these dire situations.

And while there is a limit to what governments can do, and many governments prefer to do nothing officially in shared reflection of the declaration of Mr. Trudeau's statement, the avenue of negotiating with terrorists remains open conducted by private groups, skilled professional negotiators representing families of the abducted. Which is how Canadian diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay were released by a West African terrorist group, though it is generally held that government money paid for their release.

That didn't stop former diplomat now retired Robert Fowler from excoriating the government for being laggardly in their release, despite other countries' and their diplomats' interventions in concert with the government of Canada. Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper came in for some contemptful and contemptible criticism from Mr. Fowler who felt his choice to place himself in potential danger warranted an all-stops rescue effort from his country.

Had Stephen Harper ever publicly expressed the bald views now aired by his successor, he would have been publicly pilloried as a heartless politician with an overt agenda, pleased to leave unfortunate victims of circumstances to their own devices, and if that included beheading, then so be it. Trudeau, on the other hand, is able to say whatever he wishes, and no one seems to care to consider he could have said less.

In Mr. Hall's case, it seems that the southern Philippines held an especial attraction for this man because of its lawlessness. Courting danger has its moments, no doubt, but once an abduction takes place and a defenceless person is surrounded by dangerous, surly, armed jihadis, the idea of placing oneself in such a personally compromised position may lose much of its lustre. Certainly, Mr. Hall, in his videoed statement seemed to feel, like Mr. Fowler, that Canada has let him down.

"He's an adventurer. He's just always looking for the next thing", stated his stepmother. He planned to ship out from the Philippines and go on to Thailand before his abduction on September 21, 2015 along with Mr. Ridsdel, a Filipino friend and the Norwegian manager of the isolated marina they all had their boats moored at, while they enjoyed the beautifully lush natural surroundings.

The shock of 68 year-old Canadian John Ridsdel's beheading by a Philippines' terrorist cell is still reverberating, with many Canadians who have a penchant for visiting exotic places of the world where threats to their existence in the form of jihadist groups like Abu Sayyaf are becoming an increasing potential no doubt giving second thought to their plans.

Travelling to world hot spots because they are exciting and romantic has its attractions; somewhat modified by the knowledge that danger also lurks.

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