The Socialist Equality Party (Canada) urges working people and all those committed to the defence of democratic rights to join with us in demanding that the Liberal government order the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to immediately and fully disclose to the public their investigations into last July’s attempted assassination of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by an army reservist inspired by far-right views.
In the early morning of July 2, 2020, CAF reservist Corey Hurren crashed his truck, which was laden with high-powered firearms, through the gates of Rideau Hall, the site of Trudeau’s temporary residence. After Hurren was detained, following negotiations with the police that lasted well over an hour, the corporate media and political establishment went to work to downplay and cover up the incident. Now, more than six months later, a January 8 report by the CBC revealed that the RCMP has completed at least two internal investigations into the attempted assassination, both of which are being concealed from the public. Only selected parts of the RCMP’s findings were released in a summary, and only following an access to information request.
According to the limited information made available to the media, Hurren planned to “arrest” Trudeau. This marks a change from the initial official account of the incident. Then it was claimed that the Manitoba-based reservist, who was on duty when he launched his attack, merely wanted to “talk to” Trudeau. “Preliminary reporting from the RCMP indicates he was seeking to have the prime minister arrested for his policies related to firearms restrictions and COVID responses,” noted the summary of the investigation provided to CBC.
Asked for further information about the investigation’s contents, RCMP national division spokesperson Stéphanie Dumoulin said, “Although the review is now completed, this document is meant to be used for law enforcement purposes only and its findings are therefore not for public consumption.”
Such a cover-up must be actively opposed. For the first time in modern Canadian history, a sitting prime minister has been targeted for assassination. The population has a right to know what the RCMP and other state agencies have discovered about Hurren’s political motivations, whether he enjoyed assistance or support from inside the military or from far-right groups, including those visibly present in Ottawa at the time, and what actually happened during the 90-minute interaction he had with RCMP officers on Rideau Hall’s grounds.
Hurren has been charged with uttering a threat to cause death or bodily harm to Trudeau, along with over 20 firearms-related charges. That must mean that the prosecution has evidence, either in writing or verbally, that Hurren made a direct threat to attack the prime minister. A letter reportedly found in his possession, which may have contained the threat, has never been released. Instead, only selective summaries of the document have been provided to the media by anonymous officials. They include that Hurren alleged that Trudeau was overseeing the creation of a “communist dictatorship” in Canada. Such rhetoric mirrors the denunciations made by the fascist supporters of Trump who participated in last week’s attempted coup in Washington of Nancy Pelosi and other right-wing Democrats as “Marxists” and “socialists.”
All that is publicly known about the July 2, 2020 assault points to the urgency of the public being given full access to what the state agencies have uncovered about it.
Hurren drove his truck over 1,000 miles from rural Manitoba to reach Ottawa, showing that his attempted assassination was a well-planned and thought-through initiative. Moreover, it took place a day after the so-called “Dominion Day rally,” a protest on Parliament Hill held by right-wing extremists on Canada Day. Signs at the rally included a picture of Trudeau standing in a gallows, another demanding the reintroduction of the death penalty for the Prime Minister, and others supporting the violent far-right QAnon conspiracy. Several of the organizers raised the demanded for Trudeau’s “arrest.”
It is not known whether Hurren attended the rally. But he was well known for his right-wing and far-right views, including support for QAnon. In the mid-2000s, he created a website promoting right-wing extremist content, including the Infowars website published by the fascistic agitator Alex Jones. In 2015, Hurren authored an article extolling his family’s record of military service and declaring his support for the term “old stock Canadian,” a politically-charged phrase used by right-wingers and the far right to refer to white, Christian, English- or French-speaking Canadians whose ancestors lived in the country several generations back.
Considerable evidence has also come to light about the widespread support for right-wing and far-right views within the military unit Hurren served in. The Fourth Canadian Ranger Group is responsible for rural patrols in British Columbia, northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. A CBC investigation into the unit found that two members were members of the far-right III Percent militia. Although they were investigated as early as four years ago by military intelligence, the Defence Ministry allowed them to continue serving. One of them, Erik Myggland, described Trudeau as a “treasonous bastard.” Jim Shockey, the unit’s former honorary colonel, wrote an article in late 2018, in violation of military policy prohibiting public comment on controversial issues, denouncing the Liberal government’s planned restrictions on gun ownership.
What is already clear is that Hurren was a long-time advocate of far-right political views, operating in a military environment where such positions were openly tolerated, if not actively encouraged. He travelled to Ottawa at the same time as hundreds of right-wing extremists converged on the capital for a demonstration that explicitly raised the demand for Trudeau to be killed, and carried out his own attack just hours later.
These facts alone more than justify the demand for the most thorough of investigations and the public release of all that is known about Hurren, his motivations, and possible co-conspirators. This demand becomes all the more urgent following the attempted fascist coup in Washington incited by President Donald Trump last Wednesday, which enjoyed significant support from sections of the state apparatus and security forces. Although much remains to be uncovered about the coup plotters and their aims, it is clear that by storming the Capitol building they hoped to take members of Congress hostage to be used as bargaining chips in negotiations to delay or derail the inauguration of President-elect Biden. The Socialist Equality Party (US) is campaigning for a full public investigation into the coup to expose the conspirators, including their accomplices in the Republican Party leadership and military, as part of the struggle to mobilize the working class to prevent a future anti-democratic putsch.
Many of the right-wing extremist groups that played a leading role in the violent insurrection in Washington, including the III % militia and Proud Boys, have a strong presence in Canada. According to the Journal de Montreal, a Vancouver-based right-wing extremist organization, the Cultural Action Party of Canada, responded to the attempted coup by vowing to launch a similar insurrection in Canada if Trudeau is elected for a third term. It is undeniable that other far-right groups in Canada will take encouragement from last week’s fascist insurrection.
Under these conditions, the entire political establishment is maintaining a criminal silence on the Hurren case. Not a single political figure bothered to respond to the CBC revelation concerning Hurren’s intention to “arrest” Trudeau and the fact that the RCMP is concealing its investigations from the public. This is in keeping with the ruling elite’s efforts ever since Hurren’s attempted assassination of Trudeau to downplay and trivialize the event, including by portraying the military reservist as mentally unstable. They are bitterly opposed to a public examination of the extent of far-right support within the military, because it would cut across their propaganda claims about the Canadian Armed Forces fighting wars in defence of “human rights” and “democracy” around the world.
In reality, Hurren’s attempted assassination of Trudeau expressed the fact that the threat of far-right and fascistic violence exists in Canada just as in the United States. The growth of social inequality and the ruling elite’s determination to protect the wealth of the super-rich is compelling it to turn ever more openly towards authoritarian forms of rule, including the cultivation of the far-right. This has been shown most graphically during the coronavirus pandemic, where all of the establishment parties have backed the homicidal policy of keeping large swathes of the economy and schools open, allowing the virus to run rampant so corporate profits are not endangered.
If there is such reluctance to call for a public investigation of Hurren’s attack from these circles, it is chiefly because it would show that many of the political ideas he embraced have been promoted by sections of Canada’s political establishment. The official opposition Conservatives have close ties to the far-right Rebel Media news outlet, which is notorious for its positive coverage of the pro-Trump fascist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. In Quebec, the entire political elite, including the pseudo-left Quebec Solidaire, has whipped up a vicious climate of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant chauvinism over the past decade, which has nourished far-right and outright fascist forces, including the right-wing extremist gunman who killed six worshippers in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017. Far-right thugs with views similar to Hurren’s have also been deployed by employers to intimidate working people during labour disputes, most notably during the FCL lockout in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Fearing a massive explosion of social opposition, above all from the working class, the Canadian bourgeoisie is cultivating far-right and outright fascist forces for use as its shock troops. The working class must expose these ties, which have already emboldened the far-right, and the conspiracies to which they are giving rise. The demand for the full disclosure of everything that is known about Hurren’s attack and the activities of the far-right groups with which he was associated is essential in alerting and mobilizing the population to counter the mounting threat to its democratic rights. The only way to fight for this demand and defend democratic rights in Canada and internationally is through the independent political mobilization of the working class, armed with a socialist program.