It seems like everyday now there’s some news item about violent extremism either here or abroad, and that last couple of days have been no exception. As the government releases the video made by the Parliament Hill shooter before the fateful day, the RCMP confronts the limits of managing its share of the War on Terror, while the politics of Bill C-51 seem to have affected its creator in an unlikely way.The above cartoon is courtesy of Bruce MacKinnon of the Chronicle-Herald.
The big news of the week was the release of the video made by Michael Zehaf Bibeau just before he shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial. He then ran into Parliament Hill, gun in hand, and was slain in a gun fight with security in Centre Block.
In the video, Bibeau says that he was retaliating for Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s then recent decision to send war planes and support personnel to fight ISIS in Iraq.
“Canada’s officially become one of our enemies by fighting and bombing us and creating a lot of terror in our countries and killing us and killing our innocents,” Bibeau explained in the minute long video below. “So, just aiming to hit some soldiers just to show that you’re not even safe in your own land, and you gotta be careful.”
The video was released as part of the testimony of RCMP commissioner Robert Paulson before the Public Safety committee Friday. Paulson added that had Bibeau been taken alive he would have been tried as a terrorist, and that officers in the RCMP are currently looking for any confederates that he might have had in planning the attack last October.
You can read the transcript from the video here.
At the same hearing, Paulson discussed with MPs the fact that anti-terrorism operations are taking up so much of the RCMP’s resources, that it’s leaving precious little room to pursue other kinds of crime.
“We have over 600 officers reassigned to counter-terrorism, so that brings us up to 870 people [working on it],” he said. “It’s a question of priority setting, right now we’re putting the priority on counter-terrorism … it’s very labour intensive.”
Paulson explained to the Commons committee that about 130 people were focusing on finding anyone connected to Bibeau, perhaps people that might have helped him carry out the attack. While carefully dodging any questions concerning the political implications of Bill C-51, Paulson was clear that the expanded ongoing focus on terrorism will have an effect on investigations into drugs and organized crime.
“So then the question is, at what cost? And the cost is these other [investigations],” he explained. “I think we’ve sidelined about 321 significant criminal investigations outside counter-terrorism. That’s going to have an effect after time.”
Speaking of Bill C-51, some people are saying that Conservative Party post to social media meant to fund raise off the growing threat of terrorist attacks in Canada not only crosses a fine line of good taste, but it may also be in violation of the government’s proposed new anti-terror legislation.
The post, which quotes a video by al-Shabaab where they threaten an attack against West Edmonton Mall is followed by the words, “Jihadi terrorists are threatening Canada – we need to give our police and security forces the tools they need to protect us from the threat of terrorism.” The post then sends you to a link where you can contribute to the party if you agree with that sentiment.
In an ironic twist though, a Toronto lawyer who specializes in immigration and refugee law told CTV News that the post may be in violation of Bill C-51 as it’s written now. “I think it could certainly be argued that this ad, if it were promulgated after the legislation was passed, could lead to charges being laid against the Conservative Party of Canada,” said Lorne Waldman.
More than that though, even members of the governing party are saying it goes too far. “We have to be careful not to underreact — we have to treat the threat seriously — and we have to be careful not to overreact,” MP Laurie Hawn told Thursday’s Metro.