Toronto man arrested on Parliament Hill allegedly carried a meat cleaver

OTTAWA – The man arrested Tuesday trying to enter Parliament carrying a hidden meat cleaver probably has mental illness and isn’t a terrorist, the head of the RCMP said Wednesday.

Toronto man Yasin Mohamed Ali, 56, was arrested outside the Centre Block of Parliament in Ottawa and appeared in court Wednesday.

He was detained by the Parliamentary Protective Service Tuesday and taken into custody.

Ali was allegedly found with a meat cleaver with a six-inch long blade on the inside of his coat, according to a report by the Ottawa Citizen.

The report said Ali had a ticket to visit the Peace Tower and was making his way inside when a security guard made the discovery.

READ MORE: Man apprehended on Parliament Hill carrying concealed knife: RCMP

It is unclear why the Toronto man was in Ottawa. According to the Ottawa Citizen court records indicate Ali’s most recent address to be a Toronto homeless shelter, and he lived in the city’s Dixon Road area in the 1990s. He was convicted of impaired driving in 1998; his only other contact with the courts appear to by provincial offences or bylaw infractions.

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After a brief court appearance Wednesday on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon, he was remanded in custody.

Defence lawyer Peter Azzi said Ali, who is a Canadian permanent resident, is due back in court on Friday and will be assessed by a doctor.

Neither Azzi nor the RCMP would discuss media reports that described the weapon as a meat cleaver.

However, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said the incident on Parliament Hill was less about national security than mental illness.

“The individual was identified behaving oddly, suspiciously, and one of our officers challenged him, saw the knife, took him into custody,” Paulson said.

“He didn’t get very far at all. Great job by the Parliamentary Protective Security service.”

Paulson said there’s no indication this was an act of terrorism or politically motivated.

Ali has a history of similarly erratic behavior. He’s known to police but not in a “counter-terrorism context,” Paulson said.

Security on Parliament Hill has been tight since Oct. 22, 2014, when gun-toting Michael Zehaf Bibeau managed to sprint across the lawn and through the main doors.

Zehaf Bibeau had just gunned down a soldier standing guard at the nearby National War Memorial and the gunman died himself in a hail of bullets just outside the Library of Parliament.

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The incident led to a major reorganization of security.

WATCH: New Parliament Hill security measures to go into effect

The RCMP had been responsible for the grounds of the parliamentary precinct, while House of Commons and Senate security forces had jurisdiction inside the Parliament Buildings.

The three have merged into a single service to manage day-to-day security on Parliament Hill.

With files from Global News

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