In a new access to information request about Joshua Boyle’s visit to the prime minister's office, we uncovered the changing priorities of the Foreign Affairs Ministry when it comes to kidnapped Canadians.
A judge in Ottawa has just acquitted former of Taliban hostage Joshua Boyle of 19 charges prosecutors alleged he had committed against his wife.
The charges stemmed from a time after the couple were rescued and had returned to Canada in 2017. The pair had been held in captivity for five years by Taliban-linked terrorists after being abducted while on what's being described as a backpacking trip through Afghanistan.
The 19 charges Boyle was acquitted of included sexual assault, unlawful confinement and harassment. The judge said that both Boyle and his wife Caitlin Coleman were unreliable. Boyle was also married into the Omar Khadr family — his first wife was Omar's sister Zainab, who counted Osama Bin Laden as a wedding guest at one of her other marriages.
At Rebel News, we have been investigating how this couple with their strange backstory and troubled history came to be invited to the prime minister's office for a strange pre-Christmas photo opportunity in 2017.
We filed a series of Access to Information requests with the prime minister's office and the Privy Council Office to see how the meeting came to be, and if any security concerns were ever expressed by those around the prime minister.
And often when we ask these sorts of questions we get details back about other issues that we didn't know we were even looking for.
Today is one of those times. In this 238 page Access to Information document package, we uncovered (the now former) Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's office changing talking points to reflect the government's priorities or lack thereof when dealing with Canadian hostages. The ministry removed references to terrorism
Stricken from the media lines were:
“Terrorist hostage cases are treated as a priority and resources are mobilized accordingly with dedicated experts.”
What remained was a skeleton response, assuring the public the Canadian government: “Takes hostage-takings of its citizens very seriously” and that “In all hostage cases, Canada works closely with foreign authorities and its allies, at every level, to free Canadians and bring them home”.
I'm really only speculating here but I think it is the implication that hostages takings are done by terrorists that the Foreign Affairs Ministry was apprehensive about.
I suppose to acknowledge terrorism is a threat would mean the Liberals might actually have to do something about it.