Canada – 2014 Attack on Parliament Hill & aftermath

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Canada gunman blamed foreign policy, video reveals
(BBC) The gunman who shot dead a Canadian soldier and tried to storm parliament last year was protesting against Canada’s military role overseas.
In a video newly released by police and made by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shortly before the attacks, he cites Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he wanted to show that Canadian soldiers were “not even safe in your own land”.
The video, made on Zehaf-Bibeau’s phone, was played to a committee at parliament. Police edited out 18 seconds of the recording. But it backs up suggestions by Canadian police last year the attacks were ideologically driven. (See post of 30 October 2014 below)

2014

15 November
Photos: Cpl. Nathan Cirillo’s regimental funeral (28 October 2014)

The existing policy is simply outrageous.Good for Global for ‘outing’ it.

Ottawa to change reservist death benefits following Global News story
(Global News) After Global News reported the family of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo would not be entitle to the same death benefit as other soldiers because he’s a reservist, the federal government confirms it will make an exception. But could that have repercussions for other reservists.
On Monday, Global News published a story outlining the way Ottawa’s bending its own rules to ensure the family of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a reservist shot to death at Ottawa’s National War Memorial last month, gets all the benefits due to a regular forces member.
Were Cirillo treated as any other Class B reservist in Canada, his family would be entitled to $1.8 million less – by the time his benefits expire when he would have turned 65- than a member of the regular forces who was the same age and died in the same year.
8 November
Martin Patriquin: Don’t Overreact, Canada
(NYT Canada, so the reigning cliché goes, is a peaceable country, the quaint counterpoint to the aggressive ways of its southern neighbor. And while part of that cliché is hardly true — we’ve seen our fair share of wars — its central idea generally holds: Canadians tend to be less reactionary in the face of a perceived threat. Witness how Canada didn’t participate in the Vietnam War, or the Iraq invasion in 2003. Cooler heads prevailed, perhaps because (to borrow another cliché) they were watching a hockey game.
“In recent weeks, I have been saying that our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention and arrest,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Parliament a day after the Ottawa attack. “They need to be much strengthened. I assure members that work, which is already underway, will be expedited.”
Mr. Harper is right: The Canadian government’s attempts to erode individual freedoms in the name of security started well before the deaths of the two soldiers. Last fall, the government shoehorned increased Internet surveillance powers into an anti-bullying bill, which would grant legal immunity to telecommunications companies that voluntarily hand over customer data. The bill would also further lower the standards of evidence for police officers seeking to monitor Internet activities.
More recently, the government introduced legislation that would give blanket anonymity to informants for Canada’s spy agency. This would potentially allow for a dereliction of a basic principle of justice: An accused person would be unable to face his accusers
3 November
Murray Dobbin: Four Prime Questions about Harper’s Response to Ottawa Shooting
PM’s moves at home and abroad demand closer scrutiny. Start here.
1. What freedoms must we now erode and why?
2. What is producing Canada’s homegrown jihadists?
3. What is the most effective response to Islamists?
4. Can we learn from how we got here?
2 November
Prime minister’s silence on anti-Muslim backlash disheartens Muslim groups
Muslim groups have condemned the killings and the extremist beliefs which apparently motivated them. But they say their efforts to demonstrate that most Muslims do not share those beliefs and to show solidarity with non-Muslim Canadians need to be reinforced by political leaders, particularly the prime minister.
“We are trying to work together with our law enforcement and our authorities to end this what is called radicalization of youth. We are trying to do our utmost to help,” said Mostefa.
But when political leaders denounce Muslim extremists but don’t come to the defence of moderate Muslims, Mostefa said young Muslims will think: “This is my country and you don’t come to my support to stand by my side.”
30 October
Was it ‘terrorism’? We need answers, not labels
Every act of terrorism is a criminal act, but not every criminal act is terrorism. That’s the distinction Canadians and their government are wrestling with right now. Was the murder of a Canadian soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial last week and the subsequent assault on Parliament an attempt to use violence to achieve political ends? Or was it the work of a troubled, mentally ill drifter, lashing out in a grandiose fashion after being refused a passport?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been categorical in labelling the Ottawa attack, as well as the murder of another Canadian soldier in Quebec, as terrorism. Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair says the Ottawa attack was a “criminal act.” The RCMP says both killers were motivated or at least inspired in some fashion by Islamic extremism; this seems clear in case of the Quebec attack but is less obvious in the case of the Ottawa attacker, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.
28 October
Letter to the Editor
Financial Times
We Canadians remain measured and thoughtful
Sir, Your headline “Canada PM vows crackdown against terror after attacks” (FT.com. October 23), much like the Canadian prime minister’s speech it reported, conveyed a sense of panic and a rush to create a police state that is wholly absent on the ground here in Canada. Yes, Canadians are shocked, shaken and scarred by the murderous acts of a deranged gunman last week in Ottawa. But we remain the same measured, thoughtful people we were before this attack; nor are we any more willing to give up either our civil liberties or our open, trusting ways in a phantom war against “terror”.
Nothing of what we know about the murderer suggests that Canada should bend its essential self or tighten its laws even one degree. Stephen Harper has claimed: “Our laws and police powers need to be strengthened.” Before he does so, he needs to explain exactly what pieces missing from our security apparatus would have prevented last Wednesday’s attack. Otherwise, his tough talk smacks of a cynical attempt to justify his decision to commit Canada’s armed forces to the fight against Isis in Iraq, and an attempt to politicise a tragedy that should be beyond politics.
Brett House
Visiting Scholar, Massey College,
University of Toronto, ON, Canada

Gunman prepared video prior to Ottawa attack
(CTV) The RCMP say the gunman who shot and killed a soldier before storming Parliament Hill had prepared a “video recording” prior to Wednesday’s attack in Ottawa.
In a statement released Sunday evening, RCMP said they have identified “persuasive evidence” that show Michael Zehaf-Bibeau’s attack was “driven by ideological and political motives.”
“Zehaf-Bibeau had prepared a video recording of himself just prior to conducting this attack,” the statement said. “The RCMP is conducting a detailed analysis of the video for evidence and intelligence.”

H.A. HELLYER: Dear Ottawa, from London
(Globe & Mail) Canada can either make its Muslim community suffer twice for this attack – first as Canadians who feel pain about what happened, then as Muslims unfairly suspected of collusion – or they can continue to stand with their compatriots against any threat. They can succumb to panic and chip away at their own hard-earned civil liberties under the rubric of a new stage in a “war on terror” – or they can stand fast, and recognize that those liberties and freedoms are precisely what were being targeted on Wednesday.
Ottawa Attacks: ‘Terrorists’ not who we think
Wednesday’s tragic shootings in Ottawa have made the issue of Canada’s policy towards ISIS all the more pressing. They have raised the spectre of an incomprehensible, globalized militant Islam, which could strike Canada at any time and any place. To counter such a threat, we are told, military action and more strident security measures are essential.
Such a perspective is not only misleading, it could also be counter-productive. Adopting such a policy stance, without careful consideration, could actually reduce Canada’s security.
As my recent article for this site argued, the motivations of many ISIS foreign fighters and sympathizers may not be what we suspect. They may be recent converts to Islam, as it appears to be the case with both of the perpetrators of this week’s attacks in Canada (Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau). These attacks may have been ‘ISIS-inspired’, although no information has come out thus far indicating that the attacks were organised by ISIS.
Ottawa shooting: Harper government wants to make terror arrests easier
‘Accelerated review of police abilities’ underway, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney says
The minister told Radio-Canada on Friday that the government is eyeing the thresholds established in Canadian law for the preventive arrests of people thought to be contemplating attacks that may be linked to terrorism. Officials are considering how to make it easier to press charges against so-called lone-wolf attackers.
Ottawa shootings: No Islamic State link found
(BBC) Foreign Minister John Baird told the BBC gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was “certainly radicalised”, but was not on a list of high-risk individuals. … Mr Baird told the BBC there were no substantiated claims yet that Zehaf-Bibeau was associated with Islamic State.
(Financial Times) Canadian PM faces pressure over radicals
Harper pushes for greater surveillance powers as attacks stoke debate over nation’s role in world

23 October
Kevin VickersSergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers receives standing ovation in the House of Commons Thursday morning
After having reportedly taken out the shooter who stormed parliament on Wednesday, MPs and staff stood to applaud their chief of security
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday was a “terribly sad day,” and paid tribute to both Cpl Nathan Cirillo, killed at the National War Memorial by a gunman Wednesday, and Patrice Vincent, killed in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu Monday. And he also thanked both NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau for their support during a stressful time.
While they are political opponents, he stressed “we are all Canadian… we will always stand together.”
Following his speech, Harper walked over to Vickers and shook his hand, and hugged him, in the house. Harper also hugged both opposition leaders, Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair. Again, the house rose and the applause was deafening. Who is Kevin Vickers?

Esquire’s glowing praise for the CBC coverage of the events

We Await Further Developments
A lot has been made of the contrast between how the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation handled the events yesterday in Ottawa, and how our own cable news networks handle practically everything. In brief, the difference was roughly the difference between the morning edition of The Times Of London and a tornado siren. However, one of the more startling things about CBC’s coverage has gone largely unnoticed.
When there stopped being news, the CBC News stopped covering the story and cut away to its regular daily programming. It happened so quickly that it caught me by surprise. One minute, there was anchordude Peter Mansbridge, who’s now the guy I want at the desk when the Last Trumpet blows, telling us what we knew and (most important) what we didn’t know. And the next, we were back to its being a Wednesday afternoon and “Today, in Alberta…”
Imagine that. There was no Political Powerhouse panel to explain how this might have an impact on the Harper government. There was no aging M.P. representing Yellowknife hollering that this never would have happened if they’d only have built the dang pipeline, and no young opposition M.P. speculating about how this never would have happened if they’d secured the border with Quebec the way he and his ghostwriter had suggested in his recent book. There were no former generals on the dodge, speculating sadly that the shootings may indicate “a new stage” in the war on terror. There was a deplorable lack of political opportunism, and a dreadful dearth of doomsaying. There was no fancy logo. No heroic music adapted from a movie trailer especially for the occasion. There was only Mansbridge, the calmest guy in the hemisphere, who went almost two hours without a break at one point, telling us what we knew and (more important) what we didn’t know, adding some historical perspective from his long career, and occasionally tossing it to one of his colleagues, who would do the same. And then, when there clearly was no more news coming, they all signed off. (emphasis added)

Scott Gilmore: We need less security, not more
Why the best response to the Ottawa shootings is to open Parliament to all Canadians—not to fortify it
(Maclean’s) It is hard to say and harder to accept. But there is nothing you can do to stop the fanatic. Eavesdrop on everyone? Read all our email? Bug every mosque? Armoured police vans? More metal detectors? We have seen this. And all of it, ultimately, is just as ineffective as the thin, fluttering yellow police tape which appeared overnight across Ottawa.
For Canadian security officials and politicians, it is almost impossible to accept this. They are under a heavy burden. Something must be done. Something. Unfortunately, the easiest and most instinctive thing for them to do is close something down. A street. A memorial. A gate. A city. Shut it down. Lock it up. No access.
It is understandable. Almost natural. But it is wrong. Encircling the national War Memorial with short metal fences protects no one. And worse, it actually makes us less secure, more frightened, less unified.

JOHN MOORE Editorial commentary on Newstalk
Let’s take a breath
Posted By: John Moore [email protected] · 10/23/2014 10:06:00 AM
As jarring and infuriating as yesterday’s awful attack in Ottawa was, Canada did not lose its innocence. It is breathtaking to see a gunman storm into the halls of Parliament, and appalling to watch as a young man in uniform is effectively executed by a mad man. But these events are not unique in Canadian history.
One of our fathers of confederation was shot in the back of the head. A man tried to throw a bomb onto the floor of the Commons in 1966 was killed when it blew up in his face in a bathroom. Amazingly back then the media featured long earnest discussions about how much security the complex needed and what it would mean to turn it into a fortress. The country has seen other terror events (The FLQ’s reign of terror and the bombing of Air India) and other random events of violence that can be traced back to nothing more than a disturbed mind (University of Montreal Massacre, the bombing of Central Station in Montreal, the assault on The National Assembly).
How do we answer this week’s events? Partly as we have. Today’s display in Parliament brought tears to your eyes. Watching the Sergeant at Arms carry the mace into the house and then silently receive a rousing standing ovation was nothing short of thrilling. But what happens next?
Globe Editorial: After the attack, we’re still Canada
It has been a difficult, sad week. One Canadian soldier murdered by a vehicle turned into a weapon on Monday, another gunned down at the War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday, and the armed assailant later killed while roaming the halls of Parliament. We do not yet know to what extent the two incidents are connected. We do not know if they were in any way planned in concert, or to any degree directed from overseas. What appears far more likely is that they are connected only by a thin thread of ideology: a pseudo-religion that dreams of purification through violence, and whose only commandments are death, death and death.
In light of this week, Canada may have to change. But whatever changes we choose to make should be done carefully and calmly, with an understanding of the limited scale of the threat, and the nature of the tradeoffs between freedom and safety. Any changes made, from security at public buildings to a long-standing system of laws that criminalize action but not thought, should be done only for the benefit of millions of law-abiding Canadians – and not as a panicky reaction to a very small number of men who, unlike some dangers that Canada has faced before, pose no threat whatsoever to the survival of Canada. They are murderers, but their delusions are shared by few. They are not an existential threat to the Canada we cherish. They cannot destroy our society. Let us take the true measure of the danger and respond appropriately.

War Memorial Oct 22Bruce MacKinnon’s Ottawa shooting cartoon a poignant image of the day
‘I’m still really kind of overwhelmed by reaction to this cartoon’ says Chronicle Herald cartoonist
His cartoon for Oct. 23 shows the bronze statues from the National War Memorial in Ottawa leaning down to comfort Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was shot and killed while standing guard at the memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Wednesday morning. … He did several sketches and showed his editors, and everyone agreed on the one that eventually ran — of a First World War soldier leaning over Cirillo’s body. Only the young soldier’s feet — with ​red and white Argyll and Sutherland Highland socks — are visible.

Attack on Ottawa: PM Harper cites terrorist motive
The attack on Parliament Hill’s Centre Block and the National War Memorial has left one Canadian soldier and one male suspect dead.
During an address to the nation, Prime Minster Stephen Harper said the incident in Ottawa was a ‘terrorist’ act. Mr. Harper also indicated that it remains unclear whether the man shot dead on Parliament Hill Wednesday acted alone.

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