Canada’s response to the shootings last week on Parliament Hill in Ottawa demonstrated exemplary action from the men and women who are tasked with protecting us, a resistance to sensationalist coverage from the media and an immediate willingness to cooperate amongst all political parties.
After Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shot by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who then made a beeline for the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings, the security forces there did their duty. They tried to stop him at the main entrance. They followed the man as he headed down the Hall of Honour and continued to exchange gunfire with him. Finally, Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers was able to fire at him and bring him down.
The media coverage of the events of the day was ongoing, but it was not filled with over-reactions.
Instead, it was done in a moderate tone, with facts relayed as they became available.
An investigation is underway, and it includes a detailed look at a video the shooter left behind. The federal government needs to take the same approach – move slowly and not overreact.
The attack clearly demonstrated a need for better security at the Parliament Buildings. Part of this may be due to a variety of forces being responsible for various aspects of security, but access to Parliament through the front door is too easy.
It is also important to remember that, as tragic and troubling as Cirillo’s death is, many others have also lost their lives in service to their country.
Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, was killed in a hit and run in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., two days before the attack on Parliament, by a man identified by the RCMP as a ‘high-risk’ traveller.
The federal government has said the attack was linked to ‘terrorist ideology.’ That gives rise to a stronger need than ever for all political parties to co-operate more often, as shown in Thursday’s extraordinary actions in the House of Commons.
Parties can and should disagree – but they can also unite on many measures to make Canada safer and fight this new type of “lone wolf” terrorism. Canadians would greatly appreciate a parliament that works for them, not just for partisan advantage.