In case you weren’t aware, someone tried to assassinate the prime minister last week. A far right, white terrorist named Corey Hurren rammed through the parliament’s residency gates, heavily armed in search for Justin Trudeau. The police talked him down for two hours and then peacefully apprehended him. But this incident has barely made any waves in the Canadian media, demonstrating a clear double standard.
Although the RCMP has been particularly tight-lipped about any potential motivation, the 46 year old military reservist wrote about wanting to send a wake-up call to keep Canada from falling into a “communist dictatorship.” He also alluded to conspiracy theories that claim the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax crafted by Bill Gates. Hurren drove all the way from Manitoba with two shotguns, a restricted revolver, and an automatic rifle.
If we compare this incident to the 2014 Parliament Hill shooting we clearly see a difference in both the response by the police and in the treatment of the case in the media. In 2014, all three major parties had published official statements condemning the attack within hours, but here, aside from brief statements from Trudeau and Scheer during otherwise unrelated press conferences, it’s hardly been acknowledged at all. This isn’t any accident. The 2014 shooting was carried out by a Muslim man, and had the utility of whipping up Islamophobia during a time where the federal government was seeking to exclude Syrian Muslims from Canada’s refugee program. On the other hand, last week’s incident coincided with an on-going movement against police brutality and gives credence to those pointing out systemic racism within Canadian police forces.
As NDP leader Jagmeet Singh pointed out, had the perpetrator been a person of colour, the outcome would’ve likely been much different. Singh contrasted Hurren’s treatment with the death of Ejaz Choudry, a 62-year old Muslim man who was killed by police in his own home after his family called a non-emergency line out of fear for his mental health. “That contrast – someone showed up to potentially kill the prime minister of Canada, or with weapons at his residence, and that person was arrested without any violence and you had a person who in his own home was killed. That to me is what systemic racism in policing is all about, that difference.” Tragically, Choudry is only one of at least 5 people of colour who have been killed during supposed police wellfare checks in the past 3 months alone. To highlight Corey Hurren is to highlight the inconsistencies in how the Canadian police deal with racial minorities versus right-wing white perpetrators, no matter how openly violent the latter may be.
This is hardly the first instance of right-wing terrorism being glossed over in Canada, especially in the armed forces. Back in November 2019, a mass information leak exposed thousands of private posts and messages from the white supremacist message board Iron March. Of the users identified, multiple claimed to be working within the military to bring more people over to the far-right. One such user was Patrik Matthews, who fled to the United States following media reports that he was an active recruiter for a fascist group known as The Base, and has since been implicated in a plot to incite a race war. Had these people not been neo-Nazis but, instead, radical Muslims, one can only imagine the uproar it would’ve caused among the political establishment, but since racism is useful in keeping the working class divided, white supremacists are allowed to slide.
Ultimately, these cases are just a few examples of the discrimination that clings to Canada’s core. It’s been a popular trend to paint Canada as “less racist” than the United States, and in the midst of the current movement, there are even those who wish to deny the existence of systemic racism in Canada altogether. However, this assertion doesn’t hold up to any kind of scrutiny. Racism is alive and well and is being promoted by the state and the media. We need to confront this fact clearly and directly.