3 November 2014 - EDMONTON - Nineteen years ago, Bruce Cockburn walked into the Parliament buildings with some landmines.
The Ottawa-bred singer-songwriter and political activist was headed to a news conference, where he was about to call for a worldwide ban on the weapons.
Cockburn recalls the moment in his memoirs, Rumours of Glory. “It’s a testament to the quality of life in Canada that, in the fall of 1995, I was able to saunter into the Centre Block of the Houses of Parliament with a bag of anti-personnel mines and nobody stopped me,” he writes.
Those words might make you shiver, in light of what happened in Cockburn’s hometown last month. On Oct. 22, a man shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial. The gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, then made his way into the Centre Block with a rifle — but somebody stopped him. He was soon killed in a shootout with guards and House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers. The RCMP say Zehaf-Bibeau, who embraced Islam as an adult, was driven by “ideological and political motives.”
Cockburn believes Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau — a radicalized Muslim convert who drove his car into two soldiers in Quebec, killing one — only used religion for selfish ends.
“It’s tragic,” says the musician. “It’s these morons, these losers — and I don’t like to think of people that way, but that’s what it amounts to — guys who have no idea of the meaning of anything, really, and feel like they have no place in life.
“They can … get that sense of meaning from that particular version of Islam and go be martyrs because they already hate themselves, or they wouldn’t be so ready to kill themselves anyway.
“That’s radically different from someone who grows up oppressed in the Middle East and takes up that banner as a way of addressing the oppression. It’s an indulgence for people on this side of the ocean to take up that kind of thing, so I don’t have any sympathy for it whatsoever.”
~from 'Bruce Cockburn reflects on Parliament Hill tragedy' By Sandra Sperounes, Edmonton Journal. © Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal