Before allegedly driving his heavily-armed pickup truck onto the grounds of Rideau Hall on July 2, Corey Hurren tried to explain himself in a two-page letter now in the hands of investigators.
“I hope this hasn’t been all for nothing,” the 46-year-old Manitoba military reservist allegedly wrote. “I hope that I will be forgiven and it is understood why I did this, especially by my children.”
But the letter, whose contents were shared with Global News by a source, is not so much an explanation as a list of everything that seemed to be was going wrong in his life and how he framed it.
It mentions his struggling business, the impending repossession of his truck, how he was not looking forward to more COVID-19 isolation, and his late father and brother.
He also expressed anti-government sentiments, saying he feared for the future of Canada, which he called a communist dictatorship. He referred to the lack of Parliamentary sittings and federal firearms legislation.
“With the firearms ban and seeing more of our rights being taken away, on top of bankrupting the country, I could no longer sit back and watch this happen. I hope this is a wakeup call and a turning point,” he wrote.
A sausage maker and member of the Canadian Rangers military reserve unit, Hurren allegedly drove his Dodge Ram through the Thomas Gate at Rideau Hall the morning after Canada Day.
Neither Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nor Governor General Julie Payette, whose residences are at Rideau Hall, were home at the time. No shots were fired.
Hurren allegedly had several firearms in his vehicle, including an M-14 rifle. During a two-hour standoff, he allegedly threatened the prime minister before being taken into custody at around 8:30 a.m.
He was charged with 22 counts, ranging from firearms offences to uttering a threat. The RCMP has declined to explain his motive but Global News has learned police have obtained his letter.
“This to me is someone who is clearly familiar with conspiracy theories and was likely drawn to them and may have used that worldview to understand their own personal grievances,” said Stephanie Carvin, an international affairs professor.
While she said she was not prepared to call the Rideau Hall incident terrorism, Carvin said Hurren was similar to some of Canada’s Islamist extremists suspects — people with personal problems who had turned to ideology for explanations.
His actions also seem to fit an increasingly common form of violent extremism that is based partly on conspiracy theory and “doesn’t really fit our conventional understanding,” said the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs associate professor.
“But the internet allows these kinds of ideas to flow free.”
The letter does not specify what he intended to do at Rideau Hall. However, it said he had written to Members of Parliament about his concerns but had received no responses. Sources have said he wanted to speak to the prime minister.
Shown the contents of the letter, terrorism expert Amarnath Amarasingam said Hurren seemed to be trying to make sense of all that he was going through.
“He was probably already dabbling in anti-Trudeau conspiracies online, felt policy-makers were putting into place oppressive policies, and so on,” the Queen’s University professor said.
“He was primed to embrace more conspiracy theories after COVID hit and made things worse for him.”
The letter refers to Event 201, which Amarasingam said was an October 2019 tabletop exercise anticipating a global pandemic. When COVID-19 hit, conspiracists cited it as evidence the pandemic was a planned event.
Shortly before Hurren was seen at Rideau Hall, an image mentioning Event 201 appeared on the Facebook and Instagram accounts of his business, Grind House Fine Foods.
“For Hurren, I think it was a way for him to make sense of things falling apart around him, that someone was to blame for what was happening, that it wasn’t just random and happenstance,” Amarasingam said.