OTTAWA — The country’s top Mountie says it’s his hope to “someday” release to the public a video left behind by the gunman in last week’s attack on the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill.
The video made by Michael Zehaf Bibeau contains evidence that the shooting was driven by political and ideological motives, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said Monday after testifying at a Senate committee.
“He was quite deliberate, he was quite lucid and he was quite purposeful in articulating the basis for his actions,” Paulson said after the hearing when asked to describe the video.
“They were in respect, broadly, to Canada’s foreign policy and in respect of his religious beliefs.”
While the video is still being analyzed by police in order to ensure they can extract all of its evidentiary value, Paulson told the committee that it’s his hope it will eventually be released to the public.
“We’re interested in getting that before the public, but we’re interested in making sure that we have secured — and are confident in — its intelligence and evidence value,” he testified.
“It will certainly someday be released…. I really am inclined to overcome those challenges and get it released as soon as possible.”
In the video, Zehaf Bibeau says he will act in the name of Allah in response to Canada’s foreign policy, a source close to the investigation told The Canadian Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Paulson said the video was made by Zehaf Bibeau himself and was recovered from a device, but he did not elaborate. Paulson also said investigators don’t yet know if the gunman shared his intentions to launch a violent attack.
“Our belief is that it has not gone anywhere else, but it may have gone elsewhere,” he said of the video.
“We want to be able to satisfy ourselves whether or not there were individuals who were contributing to this person’s radicalization and his jihadist views.”
News of the video first emerged late Sunday when the RCMP issued a statement announcing its existence and describing it as evidence that Zehaf Bibeau was “driven by ideological and political motives.”
Since the day of the attack, the Conservative government has characterized it as an act of terror. In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney described Zehaf Bibeau as one of two “radical Islamic terrorists” to target Canadian soldiers last week.
Blaney introduced a long-awaited bill Monday aimed at strengthening the powers of Canada’s spy agency to monitor and track people suspected of plotting terrorist attacks.
During the hearing, Paulson said investigators would welcome changes that would lower the threshold for certain enforcement tools, such as peace bonds, to better allow police to take preventative action.
“I think it’s a reasonable area where we can examine on these peace bonds and other assistance orders,” he said afterward.
“In other areas, I think Canadians would expect that the privacy rights of an individual should be protected and we should be able to meet the threshold test in order to infringe on people’s privacies to the varying levels that we would, say, in search warrants or in wiretaps.”
Conservative Sen. Daniel Lang, the chairman of the Senate national security committee, said afterward that it will be up to Parliament to debate the merits — and dangers — of such changes.
“He indicated to us he wanted to lower the threshold in a number of areas, so that he —the RCMP — could conceivably detain, constrain or incarcerate some of those individuals who have been identified as high-risk,” Lang said.
“I think most Canadians are asking that question: why would they be allowed to be out there doing what they are doing without at least being detained for a period of time. So that’s going to be a question that Parliament is going to have to ask themselves.”