A former military reservist who rammed a gate at Rideau Hall before arming himself and heading on foot toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s home two and a half years ago “continues to pose a risk to society,” a court has found, in dismissing his bid to appeal his sentence.
In a decision released Thursday, the Court of Appeal for Ontario supported the sentencing judge’s assessment that Corey Hurren had “committed a politically motivated armed assault intended to intimidate Canada’s elected government” in the July 2020 incident.
The Manitoba man’s sentence of six years was appropriate, according to the panel of judges, who orally dismissed Hurren’s appeal following a hearing last Wednesday.
In March 2021, Hurren was sentenced to six years in prison with one year of credit for time spent in custody, meaning he now faces three more years behind bars.
The sausage-maker was 46 at the time of the incident and had served with the military’s Canadian Rangers. He pleaded guilty to seven weapons charges “for a purpose contrary to the public peace” and one charge of mischief by wilfully causing $100,000 worth of damage to the Rideau Hall gate.
When he pleaded guilty, the court heard that Hurren’s small business had failed during the pandemic, his marriage was suffering and as he didn’t qualify for relief benefits, he felt “betrayed by his government.” A psychiatrist who assessed Hurren for sentencing purposes had diagnosed him as suffering from major depression.
According to a previously agreed statement of facts, Hurren told police at the scene 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 also expressed his anger over the fact he believed Canada was turning into a communist state and told police the prime minister “is a communist who is above the law and corrupt.”
Hurren’s appeal rested on arguments that the sentencing judge had erred in treating lack of remorse as an aggravating factor and failed to give sufficient weight to Hurren’s mental health issue as well as “predominant motive in committing these offences, which was to die by suicide.”
The Court of Appeal acknowledged that lack of remorse should not have been listed as an aggravating factor, but said it was not persuaded that the sentencing judge made any error in assessing mitigating factors such as depression and suicidal ideation.
“The sentencing judge noted that there was no indication in the psychiatric evidence that the appellant has any insight into his depression or would be working to cure it… We do not discern any error in the manner in which he treated the appellant’s depression and suicidal ideation,” said the Court of Appeal decision.
The sentencing judge, Ontario Court Justice Robert Wadden, said in 2021 that Hurren’s actions amounted to “armed aggression against the government that must be denounced in the strongest possible terms.”
“His possession of the firearms in this context posed a risk that the weapons would be used at any point to inflict serious bodily harm or death. The deliberateness of Mr. Hurren’s actions, his intentional use of loaded weapons to make a political statement bring him a long way from a usual first offender,” Wadden said.
Police had seized five firearms from Hurren at Rideau Hall, including a restricted revolver, a prohibited pistol, a prohibited rifle, two shotguns and a prohibited high-capacity magazine. Eleven more long guns were seized from his Manitoba residence.
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