Americans, my dear exceptionalist friends, we know how to attack our government buildings up here in Canada too. You're not so special.
YES, WE CANADA SEASON TWO EPISODE 2
Canada Curious? This is the Yes We Canada Podcast …the progressive’s guide to getting the fuck out.
This episode: Patriot-polooza…the rebellion that rocked the capital.
Hey, I’m Matt Zimbel in Montreal.
Y’all coming to the insurrection? It’s gonna be wild!
Today we’re talkin’ rebellion, treason and sedition.
America, your national slogan: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Oh man, that’s banging. Like everything you do America… there’s a lot of swagger in that there motto.
As we’ve mentioned before, other than the odd truck parking problem in our nation’s capitol, we don’t really do insurrection up here in Canada. Our country was founded by anti-revolutionaries. “Loyalists” is what you called us dismissively during your revolution back in the late seventeen hundreds when we fled your colonies and came north to what would eventually become Canada, cuz we still loved the Kings ass.
Our motto is “Peace, order, good government”. Not exactly a call to arms. And really? You should note this…Peace, Order and good government…it’s not “great government”, just good government.
Not terribly aspirational, not terribly inspirational.
My dear exceptionalist friends, I know what you’re thinking; “why, y’all talking ‘bout yourselves so much? When y’all goin’ to talk about us some more?
Guys, I know this is hard to hear, but it’s not always about you…and while we’re not as insurectable as you are… We’ve had our own bloody assaults on our Government buildings up here. Not boasting…just saying.
And just like the creation of the universe, Canadian terror attacks on our government buildings all started with a big bang. A really big bang.
On May 18, 1966, a Toronto security guard by the name of Paul Joseph Chartier entered the 3rd floor men’s room in the House of Commons in Ottawa and lite the fuse of a homemade bomb he had built using ten sticks of dynamite.
You see, we’re a mining and prospecting people up here so dynamite is not hard to get in Canada. In fact, most large malls have a Dynamite R Us location. Paul wanted to become what he called “the president of Canada” – um, we don’t have a president sir, we have a Prime Minister, anywho, President Paul’s plan was to leave the washroom and walk his artisanal bomb a few feet into the public gallery of the House of Commons – our version of congress and throw the bomb from the third-floor gallery on to the House floor killing as many MP’s (that’s members of Parliament) as possible. Only one little problem, a scheduling problem, you see when Paul bought his dynamite, he asked the clerk at Dynamite R Us, what the burn rate of the fuse was. The clerk, who had likely been transferred from Tim Hortons the day before, said, “60 seconds a foot” but in fact,
The fuse burn rate was actually 40 seconds a foot. Now when you’re a bomber on a tight schedule you need to be very, very
You need to be very, precise.
Ouch. Shit that hurts.
Paul Chartier died that day as he left the washroom and I think the terrorist take away here is …never trust a clerk. No one else was injured. Tick, tick, boom.
Thank you for shopping at Dynamite R Us… your explosives emporium
On May 8, 1984 army Corporal Denis Lortie walked into the National Assembly of the Government of Quebec in Quebec City with two sub machine guns, a pistol and a hunting knife. Enraged by the language policies of the left leaning, independiste government Parti Quebecois, his principal target was Premier Rene Levesque and his cabinet.
But, just like Paul Chartier, he made a big sloppy mistake. Lortie thought the National Assembly started sitting at 10 am, when in fact, that day, they didn’t sit until 2:00. So, after killing three bureaucrats and injuring 13 on his entrance, Lortie had the empty National Assembly chamber all to himself. He sat on the speaker of the house’s throne.
There is remarkable surveillance cam footage you can YouTube of Corporal Lortie dressed in military fatigues, machine guns on his lap, haphazardly firing rounds into the empty chamber and shouting semi-coherently in French. Now, I say semi coherently because, I do understand French, particularly the French screamed by a foaming at the mouth madman, thanks to some of the bosses I’ve had, but Lortie spoke a very particular kind of French that day because as he sat on the throne randomly firing his sub machine gun, he was clearly in the midst of a psychotic episode. At one point he opened his mouth and yanked out his denture and threw it on the floor and then celebrated his dental auto-restoration, by firing off a few more rounds.
Then, something truly remarkable happened and remember this is all caught on video tape…The Sargent at Arms, Rene Jalbert, dressed in a raincoat, and a suit and tie, walks into the frame, holding his briefcase, casually smoking a cigarette about three feet away from the gunman who I will remind you just killed three people and injured 13 and is currently firing a machine gun erratically into the room and says to him in French, “hey, I used to be in the army too”.
Now, you need to know, the role of the Sargent of Arms of the National Assembly is really a ceremonial role, they’re not like a grizzled drill sergeant, they don’t have guns, they dress up in court dress, which was very chic in the 1600’s, they wear a sword and lug around a big ass mace, which is like a big silver urn on a silver stick. You know, a mace like thing. But, let me tell you – you have never seen footage of a more courageous man than Sargent of Arms, Rene Jalbert.
Spoiler alert. The Sargent of Arms convinces the gunman to come to his office- where they talk for four hours until the gunman refuses to surrender to civilian police but agrees to surrender to military police.
For murdering three and injuring 13, Lortie gets a life sentence. After serving ten years he makes parole and now works as a clerk in a variety store. Sargent of Arms Jalbert wins the medal of valour and a bunch of other richly deserved ceremonial hardware.
Quebecers have an expression, actually it’s just a word, a word of empathy …when things are tough, they tenderly say “courage”. It means “be strong, everything will work out”. Well, there may never be a more powerful example of French Canadian “courage” than Sargent of Arms Rene Jalbert’s de-escalation of a horrific tragedy on the morning of May 8, 1984.
Nope, not done yet- got more tales of domestic homegrown terror.
On April 7, 1989, a Montrealer of Lebanese descent, Charles Yacoub, boards a Greyhound bus in Montreal bound for New York. Fifteen minutes after departure he puts a semi-automatic pistol to the head of bus driver Roger Bednarchuck and tells him to drive to Ottawa. Yacoub shows the driver a detonator and claims he has a bomb. There are nine passengers on board. At the first toll booth, Yacoub releases one passenger, a former cop. Where, he, of course, calls the cops. Which I think we can all agree is the right thing to do when all your hostage buddies drive away leaving you at a toll booth, without your luggage.
MZ: Um, yes, hello, I’d like to report that my luggage has been stolen oh yeah and um, one more thing…
Well, the Surete du Quebec – that’s our version of the state troopers, promptly starts to pursue the bus but somehow loses it. Thinking the bus is enroute to New York, they notify the New York State Troopers but forget to notify their neighboring police force, the Ontario Provincial Police or the Federal Police, Dudley Doright also known as the RCMP. And so, where does the bus with eight hostages, a driver, a pistol and a bomb in its belly end up 90 minutes later?
Parked smack dab in front of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill… home of the Canadian federal government in downtown Ottawa.
Terrorism to go! And we deliver!
You see, hijacker Charles Yacoub was very unhappy about the Civil War in Lebanon. But after an eight 8-hour stand-off which included shooting at, but missing a few American tourists, hey, sorry about that, god knows you people are not used to shots fired… everyone was safely released – there was no bomb and Chuck went to prison for 6 years and now he out and runs a jewellery store in Montreal.
The bus driver was heralded as a hero. For eight hours, he kept his cool, joked with his passengers and kept the hostage taking chill, which is how you want your hostage takings, right?
Greyhound, a compassionate employer if there ever was one, gave the driver a week off and then told him to get back to work.
The driver tried, but after having a gun to his head for eight hours he was in no state to drive, his nerves were shot, he was suffering from PTSD. So, what did HR at Greyhound do? They did what any good corporate citizen would do – they splurged on one session of mental health counselling for their valued employee who had served them well for almost three decades and heroically saved 9 of their passengers. According to Mr. Bednarchuck the therapist told him there would be nothing better for his recovery than to just get right back in the saddle and start driving that bus again!
Where upon the driver told the therapist that there is a subtle difference between “falling off a bike and having a .45 calibre pistol shoved in your face for eight hours on a bus that was supposedly booby trapped with bombs”.
The government of Canada awarded Bednarchuck the Medal of Valour. And what does Greyhound do with their newly decorated hero-driver? Well, they do what any stand-up corporate citizen would do – they fire him. I mean, come on, he’d only saved 9 people and been with the company for 29 years…
And finally in the fourth act of our tales of terrorism we take you to downtown Ottawa on a beautiful fall day in October 2014 for a truly tragic story. Twenty-four year old reservist Corporal Nathan Cirillo was guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial with two other sentries from the Ceremonial Guard. As is tradition, their rifles are ceremonial and are not loaded.
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian born in Quebec City of Libyan and Quebecois descent, who was living in an Ottawa homeless shelter, arrives at the Memorial at 10 am by car and shoots Cirillo fatally, three times in the back.
Now we’re gonna pause here for a little sidebar here for all of our NRA listeners and pro-gun lobbyists. Much to the dismay of our Conservative Party, Canada’s gun laws are much stricter than yours in the States. In Canada you need a license to buy a gun, and to get a license you need to take a firearms safety course. You have to have a licence to buy ammo and check this out patriots… even if you buy a gun in a private sale, it must go through a licensed dealer. Many guns that you can buy in the States without a background check, are in fact prohibited up here, like your beloved AR15 or as y’all call it …. Americas Rifle.
And yet, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who had a police record and a history with mental illness, managed to get a gun. And you could rightfully use that as an argument against gun control…”see, y’all got laws and it don’t work worth shit, guns don’t kill people, people kill people, my second amendment rights….”. But before you jaw, jaw on your second amendment rights. Listen to this story and try to get in touch with your inner human.
Ottawa Lawyer Barbara Winters was walking to work on that beautiful October day when she heard shots ring out at the War Memorial. Bravely, she ran towards the fire. As Corporal Cirillo lay dying on the granite steps of the Cenotaph, she held his hand and spoke to him: *
So maybe getting guns should be made harder not easier, eh?
But I guess if Sandy Hook didn’t move the needle on your distaste for background checks, I’m pretty sure this story won’t either.
The gun man, Michael Zehaf -Bibeau then drives away from the Cenotaph in an unlicensed car he bought the day before. He parks near Parliament Hill, hijacks a government minister’s car and drives directly up to the House of Commons our Capitol building. He forces his way in, shooting a security guard in the foot. Guards tackle him but he prevails and walks right past the room where the government caucus with the Prime Minister and the entire cabinet is meeting. He fires a shot directly into the room where the opposition party is meeting and misses everyone. Eventually a firefight breaks out and the attacker is shot and dies of his injuries on the scene.
The gunman was a lone wolf, a drug addict and a petty criminal. He was known to police but was not on the government’s terror watch list. According to videos he recorded prior to the attack, his motive was to avenge Canada’s policies in the Middle East, but he was not associated with any terrorist cell and was just mentally unstable. Investigators believe he was seeking what’s called in the business a “suicide by cop”.
This is a story of tragic proportions – the murder in cold blood of a young, innocent man who was at his job, honouring Canadians fallen veteran’s. A gut-wrenching story of a 24 year-old man who will never go home again to his wife and a five year-old son.
It’s also a story of mental illness and perhaps we don’t do enough to help people.
And here’s where this tragic story takes a very surreal turn into a bizarre public relations tale: The generally known narrative of the shooting of the gunman Zehaf-Bibeau is that he was shot 31 times and killed by the Parliamentary Sargent of Arms, Kevin Vickers an ex RCMP officer who had a 9mm handgun in a lock up in his office. That is only partially true. Vickers did shoot the gunman, but it wasn’t his shot that stopped him. The gunman was killed by the sharp shooting of an RCMP explosives specialist by the name of Curtis Barrett who fired the fatal shot. Barrett debriefed and it was acknowledged that his bravery had stopped the shooter. And yet we in the public have never heard the name Curtis Barrett. Because as Barrett’s supervisor at the RCMP told him at the time, and I quote: “sorry dude the Sargent of Arms Kevin Vickers train has left the station”. In other words don’t let the truth get in the way of a Parliamentary takedown. Vickers was hailed as a hero, given a prestigious posting as the ambassador to Ireland and more importantly to a Canadian, free hockey tickets.
Barrett on the other hand, became known by his co-workers as the loneliest hero and suffered from PTSD. When he sought treatment, the RCMP told him; hmmmm, there was actually no record of him engaging his weapon in a shooting on Parliament Hill. It took them two years to acknowledge Barrett’s role, cuz ya know, Dudley Do-right always gets their man. And eventually the Governor General honoured Barrett with a Star of Courage.
Which just goes to show you that in the fine tradition of “the clothes make the man”, those who wear traditional court dress and carry a sword, as the Sargent at Arms does, get killer attention.
So, as you can see – we attack our government institutions just like you – you might even say we have as much insurrection as you do… on a per capita basis of course.
I guess the difference is just that we have lone wolf sicko’s, whereas you? You have sickos by the herd.
Whatcha buildin’ Festus?
MZ: Fer what?
Gonna hang the vice president.
On the next episode of Yes We Canada… arts and crafts Patriot style, as we go deep into the capitol on January 6, 2021and bring you the best in “legitimate political discourse”, American style.
*With thanks to CBC's As it Happens and Carol Off.