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Transcript: Season 4, Episode 7

Click to play video: 'The West Block: Oct 26' The West Block: Oct 26
The West Block: Oct 26 – Oct 26, 2014

THE WEST BLOCK

Episode 7, Season 4

Sunday, October 26, 2014

 

Host: Tom Clark

Guest Interviews: Barbara Winters, Margaret Lerhe, Josh Wingrove, Steven Blaney, Jytte Klausen

Location: Ottawa

 

 ***please check against delivery

 

On this Sunday, a country still coming to terms with what happened last Wednesday.  We will hear from two of the heroes who have captured this country’s hearts.

 

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And then, a single man causing chaos across the nation’s capital, apparently inspired by ISIS but not under its direction.  How do we fight this type of attack?

 

And that shocking video you’ve likely seen many times over this week.  We’ll hear from the reporter behind the lens.

 

It is Sunday, October the 26th. I’m Tom Clark in the nation’s capital and you are in The West Block.

 

Well there are a lot of questions that need answers after last week, but first we have to put them context of what happened.

 

Let’s go back to Monday.  Word of a hit and run in Quebec.  Two soldiers ploughed down by a driver who then led police on a chase.  Police ended up killing the suspect.  We later found out he was on a CSIS watch list.  One of the soldiers died of his injuries.  Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53-years-old, a 28 year veteran of the Canadian Forces.

 

And then, what happened on Wednesday.

 

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Just before 10 am at the War Memorial, a quiet day for guard duty, but that changed in an instant.

 

Police Officer:

Get out of here.

 

Male 1:

They were doing a march and they had their rifles in their hand and he came out, pulled out from their left hand side here and fired a shot at one of the soldiers and he went down.  And the other soldier went to his aid and then he took off across the street into a vehicle and…

 

Tom Clark:

Security cameras picked up the attack.  Zehab-Bibeau stops the car and runs through the parliamentary fence.  He’s running towards the Centre Block when he stops and carjacks a minister’s car.

 

Male 2 construction worker:

The driver went down on his knees, not shot but he’s going to blow a buddy in the back of the head because he had the gun pointed at him.  He jumped into the car instead and drove the car up on the hill up to the Centre Block and that’s when all hell broke loose.

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Tom Clark:

It took only a few minutes and during that time, five complete strangers came together in a frantic attempt to save the life of Corporal Nathan Cirillo.

 

Well we’ve moved away from the desk for a very important reason because we’re talking to two of the people who have captured this country’s imagination.  I’m talking of course about Barbara Winters and Margaret Lerhe; two of the people who tried, as it turned out in vain to save the life of Nathan Cirillo.

 

These last few days have been painful and amazing all at the same time.  When you think back to that one moment Barbara when you ran across the street to go into action, what were your memories of what you were thinking at that precise moment?

 

Barbara Winters:

I was thinking that if I saw the soldiers standing that they hadn’t been hit.  And the reason I thought that was because of the news coverage the day before, about the two soldiers in Quebec.  And so when I heard gunshots and I had just passed the soldiers standing on guard, I suspected that that’s what had happened.  And so as I was running and I was looking to see them standing, and when I didn’t see them standing, I knew that they had been hit.

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Tom Clark:

Because you were Naval Reserve and Margaret you’re a nurse, so let me ask you the same question.

 

Margaret Lerhe:

I was coming in the other direction, so I saw the shooter, and I actually thought it was a drill. Again, thinking about previous events and I thought well they’re practicing.  The shooter, it was very surreal, he had this incredibly long gun.  I just thought this isn’t real.  And even when I saw the fallen soldier and his rescuer, I turned to somebody and I said this is a mock isn’t it?  This is a drill?  And they said no, no this is the real thing.  And then when his comrade called 911, I realized okay this is serious, so I ran over there yeah.  I was actually quite close, yeah.

 

Tom Clark:

Barbara, we have heard reports of what you said as you were over Nathan’s body and you were not as Margaret and your whole team were trying to resuscitate and trying to save him, you were trying to make him live through your words.  What were you saying to him?

 

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Barbara Winters:

Well first of all, the whole team tried to give him comfort.  That’s the first thing to know.  The gentleman that as at his head was talking to him when I arrived and was telling him he was doing well and to keep breathing and he was taking great breaths. So it wasn’t just me who was speaking to him.  But I think because of where I was, I was closest and I think maybe I had…Margaret and other people had the difficult job of putting pressure on his wounds.  So I was able to move closer to him I think, so to speak to him.  And I told him that he was a good man and that he was a brave man, and that we were all here to help him.  And I reminded him of what he was doing at the time.  I said, look what you were doing.  Think about what you were doing.  You were standing guard.  You were standing guard at the cenotaph.  And I kept telling him he was loved and his parents loved him, and his family loved him, and that his military loved him.  There was a colonel there who was helping too and I made the mistake, I thought it was his colonel for some reason, I don’t know why.  And I was saying look your colonel is here trying to help you.  And I just repeated myself.  I just kept telling him that his parents were proud of him and that his family loved him.  And that he was loved.

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Tom Clark:

What was it like to hear then Margaret because you were…

 

Margaret Lerhe:

It was…you know, I think that was one of the most memorable things is that I didn’t know about Barbara’s military background at the time, and I actually thought she was a family member.  And I thought it was so loving and so compassionate that it made a difference.  It definitely made a difference.

 

Tom Clark:

Barbara, how did you even find those words?

 

Barbara Winters:

Oh they were easy.  Telling someone you love them is easy.  He was a lovely man.  He was a strong man.  I had just…you know those two gentlemen were so striking when they were standing at attention that I stopped on my way to a meeting to take a picture.  They were tall and handsome, and it was a glorious fall day, and it was the perfect Canadian moment.  So it wasn’t hard.  You don’t have to search for those words, they’re right there.

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Tom Clark:

You know you two hadn’t met before this.  As a matter of fact, this is the first time that you’re meeting together now.  What is that bond like?

 

Margaret Winters:

Well it’s a very powerful bond and I just want to bring in the other people that were there because for me, you’ve mentioned my health care background and the importance of working as a team.  This for me was really exceptional moment in that all of us had a role and all of us did that role extraordinarily well.  And it was an amazing…it was an orchestrated thing.  People will you do CPR…someone did CPR.  Would you replace now, would you do this.  People just stepped in and there was never a question of I can’t, I’m scared, just a singular focus on Nathan.

 

Tom Clark:

Let me read you some things that Canadians have said about both of you.

 

Barbara Winters:

Oh thank you.

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Tom Clark:

 

Sarah Ann Peterson:

“Most parliamentarians and others ran away and his in closed rooms.  These two women are brave, brave women.”

 

Carole McNee:

“What a compassionate woman.  So glad she was there to comfort him in his last minutes.  We need more people like her in the world.”  That’s talking about you Barbara.

 

“The world is a much better place”…this is from M.E. Cudmore:  “The world is a much better place if there were more people like these two women who took the time to help save him and share lovingly in his last moments on earth.”

 

You’ve lifted an entire country.

 

Margaret Lerhe:

That’s nice to hear.  We’re not sure we have but…

 

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Barbara Winters:

That’s nice to hear.

 

Margaret Lerhe:

You know, one of the things that…and it’s even more meaningful for me knowing of Barbara’s background and you know coming from the military family, it’s just, it was our duty. And I think that’s really important that people know that it’s our duty.  They look after us and we were able for 10 minutes to look after them and you know it’s really an honour.  It’s really an honour that we were able to be there I say at the right time.  Really we were at the right time with this magical group of people to do what we needed to do.

 

Barbara Winters:

I just feel lucky.

 

Tom Clark:

Well I think the whole country would say that if you feel lucky, actually the country feels lucky that we have the two of you.

 

Barbara Winters:

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And the group, and the other gentlemen.

 

Tom Clark:

Barbara Winters, Margaret Lerhe, thank you so much for being here.  And thank you for what you did.

 

Barbara Winters:

Thank you.

 

Margaret Lerhe:

Thank you.

 

Tom Clark:

Well the tragedy that occurred at the War Memorial could have turned out to be a massacre just minutes later on Parliament Hill.  You’ve likely seen this video many times over during the past few days.  Visuals of what many only heard an exchange of gunfire between the gunman and security inside the Centre Block of Parliament.

 

Joining me now, the man behind the camera, Josh Wingrove of the Globe and Mail.  Josh tell me something, at that moment everybody else was running away, you ran towards the action.  What on earth were you thinking?

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Josh Wingrove:

Probably little or nothing, I think more than anything.  You know I think I benefited from the fact that I wasn’t right there.  You know so my first instinct wasn’t sort of fight or flight, it was curiosity.  I had my headphones in doing a story and I just sort of thought… I thought it was a bookshelf falling so it was curiosity.  What was that bang?  And then more bangs and it became pretty clear what we were dealing with.  I think here you know a couple of days later it’s starting to piece together a little more for me.  It was a blur.  It was only a few minutes long and it’s just been a whirlwind couple of days in the aftermath of all of this as you can imagine.

 

Tom Clark:

You know video can tell us what you saw and a bit of what you heard but take me inside the room.  What were you smelling at that point?  I mean with all those guns going off, what did the room feel like?

 

Josh Wingrove:

I feel like I can still smell the gun powder.  There is a smell when guns go off and that was one of the first things I noticed.  The room is very echoey, right?  It’s the main entrance so the gunshots really did sort of clamber through and that’s why we think…heard MPs thinking oh gosh they’re coming for us in those rooms, how they got louder and louder.  What I remember is just…it was chaos but very organized chaos.  I mean I have tremendous admiration for the way the guards advanced up the hallway.  They were hunting him more than chasing him.  It didn’t look like they had him in their sights.  And so that’s what the video captures.

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Tom Clark:

You know, you did what we call hostile training.  This is war training.  You didn’t expect to use it on Parliament Hill.  You expected to use it in the Middle East.  Listen I want to ask you one last question here.  You’re in a lot of trouble with your mom.

 

Josh Wingrove:

I am.  I think she’s forgiven me a little bit.

 

Tom Clark:

Has she?

 

Josh Wingrove:

I got a message to them pretty quick – my parents, my fiancée and…

 

Tom Clark:

What did she message you right away after that?

 

Josh Wingrove:

Well I didn’t get a chance…she doesn’t have a cell phone so I had people call her.  And so when I did talk to her, I got an earful of you know what the heck were you doing there with your camera? But I think she’s okay.  She’s just relieved that I’m happy.

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Tom Clark:

Well I’ll just say Mrs. Wingrove your son did really well.  Josh thanks very much for joining us.

 

Josh Wingrove:

Thank you very much.

 

Tom Clark:

Coming up next, the tough questions:  how could this happen and what has to be done to prevent it from happening ever again?

 

Break

 

Tom Clark:

Welcome back.  Well we know technically how it happened:  Michael Zehab-Bibeau alternately running and driving to reach Parliament Hill.  The question now is what?  What if anything needs to be done to prevent something like this happening again?

 

Well joining me now from Quebec City is Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, Steven Blaney. Minister thanks very much for being here.

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Let me take you back actually before this event, before the event in SaintJeansurRichelieu where we lost another Canadian Forces member to CSIS.  They were testifying on the hill and at the time, they said they simply don’t have enough resources to track everybody and therefore they have to prioritize.  So in the end, is the solution…part of the solution lie in resources rather than more powers?

 

Steven Blaney:

Well Tom, I thank you for having me on your show and what I can say upfront is already, all law enforcement agencies and National Security Agency are working hand in hand with a renewed effort and dedicated resources to tackle with the kind of events we faced this week.  As you know, as a government we have invested and beefed up those budgets by more than one third, both for the RCMP and the CSIS.  And of course we will contemplate any possibility of resources that could be required, but at this time, I have been given assurance that all the resources needed are available to keep our country safe Tom.

 

Tom Clark:

But why would CSIS say that they don’t have enough resources to do what they need to do then?

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Steven Blaney:

Well CSIS need…certainly have resources Tom, but what they also need is clarity in the way they can precede.  And this is why, while they have all the existing capabilities to keep us safe and gather the intelligence, we as politicians have a clear duty to make sure that we are providing clarity in law; clarity and legislation so CSIS can operate in a frank and actually fully legal manner.  That’s why I am willing to move forward with a bill that was supposed to be tabled this very Wednesday where that tragedy occurred, but of course the resources are there.  There are powers and more clarity in those authorities will just make their work easier and I would add our life safer, that’s for sure.

 

Tom Clark:

But can we expect that the government is going to give more resources, meaning money, to the RCMP and to CSIS to try and deal with this problem?

 

Steven Blaney:

Well actually, I think you’ve seen the Commissioner Paulson being very clear that there were more than 200 people that were relocated to that challenge.  And as I’ve indicated, it’s by more than 33 per cent that both budgets of CSIS and RCMP have been increased.  You know, we as a government believe it’s essential that we provide the tools that are needed to our law enforcement and our security agencies, but Tom I really want you to be assured that at this point in time, the resources are there to keep our country safe.  They are also dedicating those resources, working in a renewed effort.  Of course, we are moving to move forward with clarifying their power and we will contemplate any additional measures that could be needed so that they have the capacity to adjust to that evolving threat, but I fully rely on their capability at this point in time to keep us safe, and I made sure of that personally as we are meeting regularly and as I am being regularly updated on those matters of national security.

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Tom Clark:

Steven Blaney very good of you to take time to talk to this.  Thanks very much for being here.

 

Steven Blaney:

Thank you for having me.

 

Tom Clark:

And up next, we look at the next question.  Why?  Why does this happen and how can we prevent it?

 

Break
Tom Clark:

In journalism there are five questions you have to ask: who, what, where, when and the most important one, why?  And that’s what we’re going to explore right now.

 

Joining me is Professor Jytte Klausen from Brandeis University. She is the founder of the Western Jihadism Project and one of the world’s leading experts on the subject.

 

Professor thanks very much for joining us.  So, to the question why?  Why did they do this?  We know that the two perpetrators in Canada, both lived on the margins of society, so why is this not more a question of mental health than it is about radicalism?

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Jytte Klausen:

I don’t know that there is any evidence that the two men were mentally disturbed. They had bad histories of drug abuse and some criminality, but that’s pretty typical for people who have become radicalized and adopted the Al-Qaeda inspired ideology.  So I think we have to accept that they did it for political reasons.

 

Tom Clark:

Well if then it is a question of politics, it really does bring up the question about first of all what do we do about it, and is it even realistic to think that individuals acting this way, even if they are connected on the internet they’re still acting as individuals.  Is it reasonable to think that there is anything in our toolbox that can stop this?

 

Jytte Klausen:

I think there are things we can do and for the most part, these sorts of incidents do not happen with very short notice.  There is always a planning process.  I think there is evidence in both of these incidents, both in the Monday incident and the Wednesday incident that the perpetrators were planning these incidents for some time.  They were online.  They were participating in chat rooms and posting things on social media.  They also appeared to have had connections in their radicalization process that brought them to adopt change certain behaviours.  They became alienated from their families et cetera.  Those are all pretty typical behaviour profiles of people who end up carrying out violent incidents.

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Tom Clark:

And you know it is so much easier to track or to battle a group because you can follow the chatter online.  You can even sort of see what they’re ordering, but when it’s an individual, I guess the question becomes in this country, if we for example, lift their passports so they can’t commit atrocities in Syria and Iraq, they just end up committing atrocities back home.  I mean, isn’t that part of the conundrum we face?

 

Jytte Klausen:

Well in 2013, I was in various places in Europe where policy makers were starting to think about this and the attitude was let them go off and get killed on the battlefields so we don’t’ have to deal with them.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.  For these individuals carrying out something at home or doing something abroad is principally part of the same scheme.  It really does matter very much for them.  For personal reasons, they very often are very attracted to the idea of becoming these romantic warrior figures in insurgencies abroad and they will often try to do that first.  But if they then, in one way or another, thwarted it in their objectives then they will turn around and do something at home.  But in other cases you know, they go abroad and then they come back and do something.  We had that just happened very recently in Belgium where a returnee from Syria carried out a shooting attack at Jewish museum in Brussels and we have had some very severe, possibly very mass casualty incidents that could have occurred in the United Kingdom, also involving returnees.  I think it’s important to accept that whether or not they do it at home or abroad, it’s just part of what the philosophy of these militants, that’s what they want to do.

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Tom Clark:

And so world without borders when it comes to this.  Professor Klausen I wish we had more time but I thank you for kicking off the debate on this.  Thanks so much.

 

Jytte Klausen:

You’re welcome.

 

Tom Clark:

 

And that is our show but before we go, we want to add our voice to the millions of others across this country, who have said thank you and goodbye to Corporal Nathan Cirillo.  Canada has already shown that we won’t forget.

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