Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used a press conference at the end of his three-day cabinet retreat in Kananaskis, Alta., to send a message to terrorists that may be considering abducting Canadian citizens:
"I do ... want to make one thing perfectly, crystal clear: Canada does not and will not pay ransom to terrorists, directly or indirectly."
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"There are very direct and concrete reasons for this," Trudeau added. "First of all, obviously this is a significant source of funds for terrorist organizations that then allows them to continue to perpetuate 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," he said.
Trudeau is in Alberta attending a retreat with the federal Liberal cabinet where, among other meetings, they are speaking with consultants to discuss how to best craft and implement policy.
Yesterday, Trudeau broke from the meetings to address the media and confirm that Canadian John Ridsdel, who had been held captive by Islamic militants in the Philippines since September, had been killed.
Canada would be working with the Philippines, Trudeau said today, to not only bring Ridsdel's killers to justice but to try to ensure that Robert Hall, the other Canadian being held by Islamic militants, is returned safely.
Because of the ongoing security situation, Trudeau said he would not give any details of what his government was doing to help free Hall.
Pushing allies to end ransom payments
Trudeau told reporters that he spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron this morning who expressed his condolences to Ridsdel's family and to Canada — Ridsdel also holds a British passport.
"We actually had a very direct conversation where the U.K. does have a firm position like Canada of not paying ransom," Trudeau said.
"We agreed that it is something we are going to make sure we do bring up with our friends and allies around the world as we come to grips with the fact that the world is a dangerous place," Trudeau said.
"We need to make sure that terrorists understand that they cannot continue to fund their crimes and their violence from taking innocents hostage."
The prime minister said he also spoke with Philippines President Benigno S. Aquino specifically about efforts to bring Ridsdel's killers to justice while continuing to protect Canadians around the world.
While the press conference was dominated by Ridsdel's kidnapping and killing, Trudeau was also asked if he would be prepared to reverse the previous government's limitations on foreign ownership when it comes to Alberta oil.
"We continue to believe that foreign direct investment is important to draw in the kind of capacity to develop our economy and to create good jobs for Canadians," Trudeau said.
"We will always make decisions based on what is in Canada's interest, what is in the interest of Canadian workers, Canadian jobs, and the communities and economy that is affected by investments like this."
In 2012 Canada approved a deal by China's state-owned CNOOC to buy Calgary-based Nexen but after that sale, the federal government changed foreign investment rules for state-owned enterprises, saying any such investment would only be permitted in "exceptional circumstances."
Trudeau said that he decided to hold the cabinet retreat in Alberta so his ministers could get to know more of the country and tune into the hardships the collapse in the price in oil has created for Albertans.
"We are entirely focused on how we are going to help Canadians right across the country, but particularly here in Alberta because that is where we are right now, to build and grow in ways that are going to benefit."
Trudeau and the cabinet also met with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley Sunday to discuss pipelines.