By Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Crown prosecutors are asking that a Manitoba man who rammed a gate at Rideau Hall before arming himself and heading on foot toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s home last summer be sentenced to six years in prison, minus time served.
The request came during sentencing arguments on Tuesday in the case of Corey Hurren, the 46-year-old sausage maker and Canadian Ranger who pleaded guilty this month to eight charges in relation to the incident at Rideau Hall last July.
Crown prosecutor Meaghan Cunningham told an Ottawa courtroom that Hurren’s actions “were far from benign,” and posed a serious threat to public safety while setting up a potentially dangerous situation.
“The RCMP officers involved were able to de-escalate the situation and eventually arrest Mr. Hurren without any shots being fired,” Cunningham told the court.
“But that doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Hurren’s deliberate actions on July 2 were incredibly dangerous. They created a risk of harm or death to anyone that might have been caught up in what he had planned.”
During his own submission, defence lawyer Michael Davies said he was seeking a sentence of three years less time served.
He argued that while his client made a series of bad decisions, “ultimately, he made one correct decision: the decision to put those guns down.”
“I’m not here to say you should be congratulated on that decision,” Davies said. “But if he’s to be held accountable for his decisions, and he should be, your honour also has to take into consideration that ultimately, at the end of the day, he put the guns down.”
Justice Robert Wadden is expected to deliver his sentence on March 10.
Hurren drove a truck onto the grounds of the Governor General’s official residence on July 2 last year and rammed through the gate, which caused the vehicle to stall and its airbags to deploy.
He then set out on foot toward Rideau Cottage, where Trudeau and his family are living due to unresolved questions about costly repairs needed at the prime minister’s traditional official residence at 24 Sussex Drive. Trudeau was not home at the time.
Police were able to talk Hurren down and arrested him peacefully after about 90 minutes.
He was initially accused of uttering a threat to “cause death or bodily harm” to Trudeau.
But in an agreed statement of facts read in an Ottawa courtroom on Feb. 5, Hurren told police he didn’t intend to hurt anyone, and that he wanted to arrest Trudeau to make a statement about the government’s COVID-19 restrictions and its ban on assault-style firearms.
He had hoped to make the arrest during Trudeau’s daily pandemic briefing outside Rideau Cottage.
Hurren, who told police he hadn’t qualified for emergency aid benefits, was angry about losing his business and his guns. He believed Canada was turning into a communist state.
At no point did Hurren tell police he wanted to kill Trudeau, according to the statement. He also told police he didn’t want to hurt them and did not point a weapon at them as officers tried to de-escalate the incident.
While police were talking Hurren down, they received a complaint from one of his friends, who reported Hurren had sent him “a disturbing text message containing a picture of a suicide note.”
Hurren also told police at the scene that he wanted to show Trudeau “how angry everyone was about the gun ban and the COVID-19 restrictions” and said the prime minister “is a communist who is above the law and corrupt.”
He felt “betrayed by his government” and “has nothing left.”
During a police interview after his arrest, Hurren said “he’s not a bad guy for doing this and he did not want to hurt anyone.”
He was concerned about being compared to Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the shooter who stormed Parliament Hill in 2014, and didn’t want the RCMP to “think that he’s a terrorist.”
Asked what his plan was, he replied: “I don’t think there was one.”
Asked if he had any regrets, Hurren, who’d spent two days driving from Manitoba to Ottawa, said he wished he’d stopped to see the Terry Fox statue near Parliament Hill.
Hurren, who described himself as Métis, also stated during the interview that people who are “the right colour” are allowed to keep their banned firearms.
Data retrieved from his cellphone, Facebook and Instagram posts included exchanges with friends about “conspiracy theories related to the Canadian government,” as well as a “sacrifice theory” related to the date of the mass shooting in Nova Scotia last April and suggestions that COVID-19 is a hoax.
Police seized five firearms from Hurren at Rideau Hall: a restricted Hi-Standard revolver, a prohibited International Arms break-open pistol, a prohibited Norinco S12 rifle, a Lakefield Mossberg shotgun, a Grizzly Arms shotgun and a prohibited high-capacity magazine.
Eleven more long guns were seized from his Manitoba residence. Hurren admitted in the statement of facts that he did not have a licence for many of his firearms.