Loading articles...

MPs to watch video Ottawa shooter made before October attack

The Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons Kevin Vickers walks past the library where Michael Zehaf Bibeau was gunned down, on Oct. 23, 2014 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

After weeks of speculation, members of Parliament will get a chance Friday to see the video Michael Zehaf Bibeau made last October before he killed a Canadian soldier and stormed Parliament Hill.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson will use an open meeting of the House of Commons public safety committee to provide a ‘detailed update’ of the investigation into Zehaf Bibeau’s deadly attack on Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, said a source familiar with the matter.

The source, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly and therefore spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the video would be shown to the committee.

Pressure has been mounting on the RCMP — and the Conservative government — to release the video to give people a first-hand glimpse into Zehaf Bibeau’s state of mind on the eve of his assault.

Last month, the public safety committee, while affirming the RCMP’s operational independence, invited Paulson to appear at his earliest convenience to display and discuss the video.

Asked about the matter on Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it’s up to the RCMP whether to release the video, since it’s part of an ongoing police investigation.

“It’s not my decision one way or the other,” Harper told a news conference in Toronto.

In the days following the attack, Paulson said he wanted people to see what he described as footage of Zehaf Bibeau explaining his actions in a deliberate and lucid manner, which were rooted in his religious beliefs and opinion of Canada’s foreign policy.

Paulson also said the video was made by Zehaf Bibeau himself and was recovered from a device belonging to the gunman, who was shot dead in Parliament Hill’s Centre Block.

The top Mountie has since said that while some transcripts might be provided to the public, he didn’t think the video would ever be released.

Many questions about the Oct. 22 shooting remain:

— Where did Zehaf Bibeau get the rifle he used?

— Was he truly motivated by Islamic radicalism or displaying the violent anger of an unstable outcast?

— Did he have help in planning the attack?

The government introduced major anti-terrorism legislation as a result of the Zehaf Bibeau shooting and a fatal assault on Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent by another lone-wolf attacker in Quebec two days earlier.

Harper was asked Wednesday whether the government intends to entertain possible amendments to the controversial bill.

The prime minister said he didn’t want to prejudge coming committee hearings, but suggested changes are unlikely.

“We do always listen, but I should be very clear the government deliberated long and hard over these changes. They’re changes that have been done in almost every other country,” he said.

“In our view most of them are long overdue and we are fully committed to passage of the legislation and I note the public is very, very strongly supportive of passage of the legislation also.”

The bill would significantly expand the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s mandate, giving CSIS the ability to disrupt terror plots, make it easier to limit the movements of a suspect, expand no-fly list powers, crack down on terrorist propaganda, and remove barriers to sharing security-related information.

Opposition MPs have criticized the government for boosting security powers in the legislation but not giving watchdogs more bite. The NDP plans to oppose the bill.