A meeting between the prime minister and former hostage Joshua Boyle’s family in Justin Trudeau’s Parliament Hill office is raising questions about who gets to meet with Canada’s head of government and why.
On New Year’s Day, less than two weeks after Boyle, his wife and three children met with Trudeau, Boyle was arrested and charged with more than a dozen criminal offences, including sexual assault, assault, administering a noxious substance, unlawful confinement and uttering threats.
Boyle, his American wife Caitlan Coleman, and their three children were freed in October, five years after the couple was abducted while on a backpacking trip in Afghanistan; all three children were born while they were held.
Phil Gurski, a former analyst for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), says that going into the meeting with Trudeau there were enough unanswered questions to have given pause to staff at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), including Boyle’s decision to take his pregnant wife backpacking to Afghanistan in the first place.
“What was the actual motive, shall we say, behind this whole trip in the first place?” Gurski said in an interview with CBC News, noting that there are many other places where travel would have been safer. “Somebody in the PMO should have said: ‘Is this really the kind of person that we want?'”
Gurski said that while there was likely no immediate physical risk to Trudeau during the meeting, “there certainly seems to be a reputational one now.”
“I can’t fault him for wanting to welcome back Canadians who have been through these types of experiences and I respect that, but in this particular case we knew that there were issues surrounding this particular situation,” he said.
But since Boyle’s arrest, some Conservatives have called out Trudeau on Twitter for taking the meeting.
Justin Trudeau meets with Omar Khadr’s former brother-in-law yet when the father of a slain Canadian soldier in Afghanistan asks to meet with Trudeau over Omar Khadr’s $10.5 M payout, he was told the Prime Minister was too busy. #Barrie #Innisfil #cdnpolihttps://t.co/jhrxla2nf0
According to a government official, speaking on background, it was the Boyle family who requested the meeting with Trudeau. It was granted but no official photographs or notices of the meeting were released by Trudeau’s office, although photos were tweeted out by the Boyle family.