When the police announced the arrests of John Nuttall and Amanda Corrody, it looked like a clear victory in the ongoing war on terror. In 2013, Nuttall and Corodi planted pressure cooker bombs in the British Columbia legislature in an attempt to kill or injure people who attended Canada Day celebrations. The bombs did not explode.
As more details emerged about Nuttall and Korody, the case began to fall apart. The couple were in a state of relief, live with Nuttall’s grandmother and struggle with opioid addiction. They were disorganized and seemed to spend much more time playing Dungeons and Dragons than planning their attack.
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Their terrorism convictions were eventually overturned. Judge Catherine Bruce ruled that the police had brought down Nuttall and Korodi and severely warned the police in her conclusion, writing: “Simply put, the world has enough terrorists. We don’t need the police to create more marginalized people who have neither the ability nor sufficient motivation to do it themselves.”
Director Dan Pierce was intrigued by the case. Forming a production team with journalist Sarah Berman, author of a book Don’t call it worship, and CBC correspondent Rafferty Baker, gave lengthy and unprecedented interviews with Nuttall and Corodi. These interviews marked the first time the couple had spoken in depth about the recorded case. Along with these conversations, the production team has combed through hundreds of hours of conditional watch tapes to create a new podcast pressure cooker.
Pierce spoke with CBC Podcasts about making files pressure cooker. Here is part of that conversation.
What initially attracted you to this story?
What initially drew me to this story was the startling absurdity of the police concocting a terrorist plot and persuading this couple to blow up a building, just so they could catch them red-handed. But what got me interested were the characters and the questions about who they were, why they were so vulnerable to this, and how they got into this mess.
How did you get John Nuttall and Amanda Corrody to agree to talk to you?
I contacted their attorneys first and expressed my desire to adapt their story into a movie or TV show. So they passed my name and one night I got a call from John that they agreed to meet me. So we started meeting in cafes and parks. Initially, other filmmakers circled the couple with their own film screenings – one suggested telling their story as a black comedy, another as a spy movie – and my concept was to treat the story in a journalistic fashion, to be as true to life as possible, and also to focus their love story. And they loved the concept from the start, so I guess that’s why they agreed to talk to me.
What does this podcast say about the state of police investigations in Canada?
I think this story speaks to the depths of deception that the police will employ to try to obtain convictions. There were so many layers of deception going on here that you really have to peel each layer off one by one. There was deception on the part of John and Amanda, with an undercover officer pretending to be an al-Qaeda operative who offered to fund their terrorist scheme. There was a spiritual deception, in which the officer began to give spiritual guidance to the couple to justify their plans for violence. There was deception from the public. And there was deception going on within the RCMP, with inaccurate or incomplete information advancing in the chain, and internal opponents being silenced or demoted. So the many layers of deception in this story are noteworthy.
I hope listeners understand that there are no heroes or villains in this series.– Dan Pierce
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned that the police did in this case?
One of the most bizarre and absurd chapters in this story is when the police take the couple on a trip to Kelowna for a few days. While out of the house, they take the opportunity to install hidden microphones and cameras in their home. So that the neighbors wouldn’t see it entering their apartment, the police stopped a cube truck in their street, then lie to the neighbors and journalists that it’s a mobile meth lab and everyone on the street is evacuated, just in case the truck explodes. Then they secretly entered the couple’s suite to install surveillance equipment. It was an elaborate trick and not much came of it in terms of usable guides.
What do you hope listeners will gain from listening to the series?
I hope listeners understand that there are no heroes or villains in this series. This is a story about humans flawed on all sides, from John and Amanda to the police and prosecutors. They all wrestle with whether it is acceptable to break the rules, use deception, or even destroy people’s lives in the name of a greater good. But either way, the end does not end with justification of the means. John and Amanda are now abandoning any beliefs they might have that violence can make positive change in the world. And the courts decided, in Canada at least, that we should not allow the police to give up people’s rights in the name of fighting terrorism.
Edit the question and answer for length and clarity. Written and produced by SK Robert.
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