The aftermath of a beheading: Qualicum Beach woman pressures government for more consular services

Gord Johns in the News

Source: PQB News

Lois Eaton said not enough is being done by the federal government after her cousin was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf Group earlier this year.

Eaton, a Qualicum Beach resident, has created an e-petition aimed at increasing consular services (help and advice from a government agent) for kidnapped or abducted victims, involving international experts who have been previously successful in dealing with organizations engaged in kidnapping worldwide and keeping the families of kidnapped victims informed.

This all comes after her cousin Robert Hall, or Bobbi as he was known to loved ones, was kidnapped in September of 2015 in the Philippines and eventually beheaded in June of this year by the Abu Sayyaf Group, Eaton said. Hall, along with another Canadian citizen, John Ridsdel, was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf Group, but Hall's fiancee Tess was released.

During Hall's captivity, Eaton said, there was so much that should have been done differently.

"It (the government) was a harried force that did not have the personnel, time or training to interact with families of kidnapped people," Eaton said. "When the next kidnapping happens, and it will ... those families have that history to look back on."

Eaton said the federal government needs to change they way they approach a kidnapping of a Canadian citizen by foreign terrorists.

"When people are kidnapped, they have two assets to their kidnappers; money and if you're immediately told money is not on the table, they slide to the other side of the ledger and they become an asset for terror," she said.

Eaton said the federal government is acting like there's only one asset: money.

"I believe Bobbi could have been here with us today, or he could have been killed in the rescue, which, to me, would have been so much better than being beheaded and his head thrown in the street," said Eaton, adding that his body was only found 10 days later when villagers came forward to say they might know where the body was.

Eaton said she has tried to see all the sides of the story, and its fallout, but she said the government was not prepared and didn't have the proper knowledge to deal with the situation.

"I'm sure everybody did the best they could within the bureaucratic role they were in," Eaton said. "But it was so far short of what needed to be done, thus the petition e-696."

The e-petition is sponsored by Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, Eaton said.

After a public meeting on fair elections hosted by Johns, Eaton said she spoke with him about her petition, which was originally on another platform. She said Johns told her he would sponsor the e-petition. From there, Eaton said Johns' team helped her with her petition.

In an emailed statement to The NEWS, Johns that he was moved to support Eaton's petition after hearing about her close personal connection to Hall.

"It's impossible to imagine the distress family members of those kidnapped or abducted must feel during a time of such uncertainty," he said.

By sponsoring the petition, Johns said he is happy to help provide the tools and resources for Eaton to be heard in parliament.

Eaton said she grew up with Hall, fondly remembering their summers in Calgary and their "passionate discussions." She said Hall was a "carpe diem kind of guy."

"But if he wanted to do something, he darned well figured out how to do it ... he never said I have to be the best or I won't do it," Eaton said. "I think all of us in the family, kind of want to pay homage to that and this is something that I think needs to be done and I can't not do it."

The e-petition needs 500 signatures in 120 days and it must be sponsored by an MP.

If the e-petition gets at least 500 signatures, it will be certified by the clerk of petitions and then it will be presented in the House of Commons. Afterward, it will be tabled for a government response.

In order to support a government petition supporters must be a Canadian citizen or a resident of Canada and provide basic information to validate the supporter's identity. There is no minimum age requirement to support a petition.

To read about Eaton's petition, go to: https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-696 or Google "e-petition 696" and click the first link.