The Canadian Forces reservist accused of breaching the gates of Rideau Hall last summer while armed wanted to see the prime minister arrested, according to a preliminary investigation by the RCMP.
Corey Hurren faces 22 criminal charges related to the four loaded firearms police say he had in his possession on July 2, when he allegedly drove a truck onto the grounds of the official residence and set out on foot toward the prime minister’s home at Rideau Cottage.
The Manitoba resident and Canadian Ranger is also charged with uttering threats against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Neither the Trudeaus nor Gov. Gen. Julie Payette were home at the time.
According to a summary of the preliminary RCMP investigation, obtained through an access to information request, Hurren wanted to have the prime minister arrested for a number of recent policy decisions. That summary goes further than the initial reports, which said that Hurren simply 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,” reads the internal document.
Just two months earlier, the Liberal government had announced a ban on some 1,500 makes and models of military-grade “assault-style” weapons in Canada.
“The suspect also indicated he would like to speak to the Governor General,” says the document.
The investigation summary was part of a briefing note prepared for Privy Council Clerk Ian Shugart ahead of a meeting with Payette following the incident.
Hurrens’ alleged motivations for entering the Rideau Hall grounds that day were first reported by Global News, which obtained details of the letter the 46-year-old left in his truck.
In it, Hurren allegedly outlined his personal financial issues and government grievances, including his fear that the country was falling into communist dictatorship.
Hurren ran a business called GrindHouse Fine Foods, which makes meat products. In a Facebook post, he reported that the pandemic had taken a toll on his business.
According to the briefing note, Hurren — who, according to the RCMP’s timeline, spoke to officers for 90 minutes before he was arrested — told the responding officers he was carrying weapons.
“He disclosed to police at the first instance that he was in possession of weapons,” it reads.
Hurren has not entered a plea but is expected to do so later this month.
Rideau Hall raised security concerns
In the incident’s aftermath, the RCMP launched at least two reviews. One was an “after action review” looking at the chronology of the day, the decisions made by officers at the scene and the immediate areas of concern. Another investigation looked into previous security reviews to see if there are any gaps to fill.
A spokesperson for the force’s national division said the reviews are complete and changes have been made.
“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,” said Stéphanie Dumoulin in an email to CBC News.
“Finally, opportunities for security enhancements which the review highlighted have since been implemented.”
The briefing note says the head of security and intelligence at the Privy Council Office (PCO) met with Assunta Di Lorenzo, Payette’s secretary, on July 3 to discuss the incident.
It said Di Lorenzo raised a number of concerns about officers’ role and posturing, which were passed on to RCMP brass — but her specific concerns were blacked-out in the copy of the note received by CBC News.
The Privy Council says it’s offering independent advice to the RCMP and Rideau Hall regarding security.
A spokesperson for Rideau Hall referred all questions to the RCMP and a spokesperson for PCO said they won’t comment further on security matters.
Ranger unit under investigation
Following the Rideau Hall incident, CBC News launched an investigation into the 4th Canadian Ranger Group, of which Hurren was a member.
It showed the military’s counterintelligence branch had taken a close look at a pair of Canadian Rangers as early as four years ago over their involvement in far-right organizations, but the Department of National Defence (DND) allowed them to keep serving without interruption.
One of them, Erik Myggland — who has described his support for two far-right groups and has referred to Trudeau as a “treasonous bastard” — was interviewed by military intelligence officers within the last two years.
The 4th Canadian Ranger Group oversees individual patrols in rural B.C., Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Hurren served in Manitoba and there is no evidence he knew Myggland.
Hurren’s stance against firearm restrictions does appear to be shared by others in the unit.
The unit’s former honorary colonel — writer, outdoor enthusiast and television personality Jim Shockey — posted an essay online attacking the Liberal government’s overhaul of gun legislation, Bill C-71, in the fall of 2018.
While Shockey’s remarks wouldn’t be cause for concern for any private citizen, they appear to violate the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces Code of Values and Ethics.
That section of the ethics code requires even honorary members of the Canadian Forces to refrain from public criticism of the government and from “any political activity that could impair, or appear to impair, the objectivity and impartiality of the DND employee.”