BY HEATHER STANLEY
Canadians were shocked on Oct. 4 as the parliamentary centre of our country was invaded. Around 10 a.m., Parliament Hill in Ottawa was attacked by a gunman, leaving many citizens wondering about security.
The shooter was identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, who was armed with a 30-30 rifle. He was born and raised in Quebec and had a history of offences throughout his adult life. Most were robbery and drug offences in Montreal and in British Columbia.
Zehaf-Bibeau started his rampage at the National War Memorial where he killed Hamilton reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24. He then made his way into Parliament’s Centre Block by hopping over part of the fence that surrounds it. At this time, MPs were gathered for caucus meetings. Upon the arrival of the shooter inside the compound, Parliament and its surrounding streets went into complete lockdown.
After injuring two people inside the area where the meetings were taking place, Zehaf-Bibeau was shot dead by House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms and 29-year RCMP veteran Kevin Vickers. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and party leaders Thomas Mulcair of the NDP and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau were all in the building at the time.
It was only in due course that Parliament would be targeted. With various breaches of security at the White House over the years, we should have taken heed and strengthened our own defences. There have been improvements — more video surveillance cameras were installed last year and in 2012 retractable barriers capable of stopping a speeding vehicle were installed at all vehicular entrances. However, there is never too much security when it comes to protecting our leaders.
Before the attack on Parliament, the grounds around the buildings were open for public use. Yoga classes took place on the front lawns once a week during the summer and thousands celebrate Canada Day there each year. Also, tours are available most days.
This can no longer be the case. Security must be beefed up, ensuring no one enters the building without going through a metal detector. As well, soldiers at the National War Memorial should be armed and equipped with bulletproof vests. We must be better prepared, because we all know this won’t be the only attack against democracy.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.