Friday, October 24th2.8°C
23840
22921

Parliamentarians show unity

Peace, order and good government returned to the national capital Thursday with a back-slapping flourish of fortitude and common purpose, but a persistent shadow loomed — one of unsettling memories and unanswered questions.

An almost triumphal sense of camaraderie in the House of Commons was burdened by mourning for the loss of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo — the honour guard gunned down at the National War Memorial a day earlier — and by a sobering reality: Canada's seat of government had been undermined by a lone, mentally unstable homeless man with a rifle.

"It is disheartening and frightening to anyone — police included — when a senseless act of violence takes place in Canada," RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said at an afternoon news conference.

The many security vulnerabilities exposed by the incident were secondary this day, however, to shock and relief that more lives were not lost.

Kevin Vickers, the sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons, entered the green-carpeted chamber to thunderous applause — less than 24 hours after he was credited with helping shoot dead the gunman bent on murderous rampage just down the marbled hall.

Vickers, his mouth a tight line, appeared to blink back tears under a cascade of continuous applause as he carried the ceremonial mace into the House to open the day's proceedings. After more than two long minutes, the tribute ended with MPs thumping their desks.

Security footage made public Thursday reveals the path of gunman Michael Zehaf Bibeau — a man known to police through a petty criminal record — as he commandeered a cabinet minister's idling car on Parliament Hill and drove it up to the Centre Block's front doors, RCMP vehicles in hot pursuit.

But what prompted him to shoot Cpl. Cirillo with a Winchester 30-30 lever action rifle and then turn his sites on Parliament Hill remains a mystery.

Zehaf Bibeau had recently come to Ottawa seeking a passport in order to travel to Syria, according to the RCMP, but he was not on any watch list and his passport application had not yet been officially denied.

"We have not come to ground completely for his motivations on this attack," said Paulson. "But clearly it's linked to his radicalization; clearly it's linked to his difficult circumstances."

Paulson also confirmed that Vickers directly engaged the assailant in a gun battle in Parliament's Hall of Honour, each shooting from behind polished marble pillars as other security officials unleashed a hail of gunfire.

The attack took place directly outside the unlocked wooden doors of meeting rooms where Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair were addressing their respective caucuses.

Harper holed up in a closet for several minutes while the mayhem continued outside, and some of his Conservative MPs brandished flagpoles as spears expecting an imminent intrusion by armed attackers.

Across the hall, a guard in the NDP meeting room stood spread-eagled across the double doors to the hall. His heroics were fortunately not needed, but a bullet hole in one door showed how close was the call.

In response, Thursday morning's parliamentary sitting had an emotional, almost "triumphant" tenor — a term used by Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

The 300-plus MPs bursts into a spontaneous rendition of O Canada after Speaker Andrew Scheer blessed the gathering with a prayer for "wisdom, knowledge and understanding."

Amidst the heart-on-sleeve patriotism, however, politicians, police forces and intelligence officials were beginning the cold task of assessing security around Parliament Hill and the safety of the country itself.

Cpl. Cirillo was the second soldier to die in an attack this week. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was run down by an attacker with jihadist sympathies on Monday in Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que.

The prime minister, as he had the evening before in an address to the country, called the attacks acts of terrorism and linked them to the battle against ISIL, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

"For now, make no mistake, even as the brave men and women of our Armed Forces are taking this fight to the terrorists on their own territory, we are equally resolved to fight it here," Harper told the House.

"We live in dangerous times, yes, but the mission of our country and the work of this Parliament goes on, and so does the work throughout this city."

Harper's address ended with the extraordinary spectacle of the prime minister walking down the Commons' centre aisle to shake Vickers' hand, then exchange handshakes and back-slapping hugs with both Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

Mulcair and Trudeau also spoke of the need for unity and resolve, although they were more circumspect than the prime minister in labelling Wednesday's shootings an act of terror.

Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green party, had a more prosaic take.

"If I were a betting person, and it is good for my bank account that I am not, I would put money on these being the acts of isolated, disturbed and deeply troubled men who were drawn to something crazy," she told the House.

"I do not believe that it was a vast network, or that the country is more at risk today than it was last week."

Whatever the motivations for the attack, changes are coming, said the prime minister.

An effort to toughen up the "surveillance, detention and arrest" powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service would be forthcoming in short order, Harper said in the House.

And Paulson said the prime minister will now be under close "24-7" guard by his RCMP security detail.

Scheer, the Commons Speaker, ordered a full review of security in the House of Commons.

In a release, Vickers wrote that "yesterday, during extraordinary circumstances, security personnel demonstrated professionalism and courage. I am grateful and proud to be part of this team."

 

The Canadian Press




Gunman angry about passport

The man who killed a soldier at the National War Memorial was angry about failing to get a passport and struggled with drug addiction, say those who knew him at the men's shelters where he spent his final weeks.

Michael Zehaf Bibeau so angered some of the men at the Ottawa Mission because of his complaints about Canada that there was almost a fight in recent days, said Norman LeBlanc, a 60-year-old former truck driver who frequents the shelter.

"He went on for more than an hour about how much this country sucked and how he wanted to get out of here, and he was furious about the passport," LeBlanc said Thursday outside the mission.

"That made a lot of the others guys mad, and they were going to take him out back and give him a beating."

Hours after the shooting Wednesday, police descended upon the mission, removing a hockey bag from Zehaf Bibeau's locker that was so heavy it required two men to haul it outside into an armoured vehicle, LeBlanc added.

Police refused to elaborate on the contents of the bag.

Zehaf Bibeau often prayed with two Somali men in the shelter in an east-facing window in accordance with the Muslim faith, LeBlanc said.

One of them, Abdel Kareem Abubakrr, denied his new friend's actions had anything to do with his faith.

"He was a crackhead, I think," he said.

Despite his recent struggles, however, those who knew Zehaf Bibeau as a younger man say he showed promise only a few years ago.

He attended exclusive, private high schools in the 1990s in Montreal and the nearby city of Laval. Today, tuition at two of the academies ranges from $3,000 to $4,500 per year.

The principal of College Laval said Zehaf Bibeau studied there from 1995 until the middle of the 1998-99 academic year, when his parents removed him without explanation.

The mere fact Zehaf Bibeau studied at College Laval suggests he had a bright future, Michel Baillargeon told The Canadian Press.

"If this young man was with us for a couple of years, that means he had good grades," said Baillargeon, who described Zehaf Bibeau's record as nondescript.

He was also remembered fondly by someone at another local high school he attended. That person paid homage to "Mike" in a blurb published in the Saint-Maxime high school yearbook, according to the Laval Courrier newspaper.

The undated write-up described Zehaf Bibeau as a friendly guy, a new kid who barely had any friends at the school when he first arrived in the middle of Grade 10.

"He didn't know very many people, but in a short time everyone knew him," said the short message authored by the unidentified friend. It was published Thursday by the Laval Courrier.

"Mike is a sociable and intelligent guy. He likes to laugh and his smile makes girls crack up. He will go far in life. He will surely be a businessman in the near future.

"Follow your heart. Take care of yourself. I adore you."

A former acquaintance of Zehaf Bibeau's father said he believes the young man's path would eventually take him to Libya.

The ex-owner of a Laval coffee shop where Bulgasem Zehaf was a regular customer said the father told him how he brought his son to live with him in Libya for a while around 10 or 15 years ago. The move, the man added, followed Bulgasem Zehaf's divorce from Bibeau.

The man, who spoke to The Canadian Press on the condition his name not be published for fear of recriminations from the community, said Bulgasem Zehaf used to buy used cars in the Montreal area, fix them up and ship them to Libya, where he sold them.

He remembered how much Bulgasem Zehaf would glow when he talked about his son.

"He loved his son very, very much," said the former cafe owner. "He loved him because he was his only child, I believe."

The man also recalled how the proud father used to call his son Abdallah, not Michael.

At a news conference Thursday in Ottawa, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said Zehaf Bibeau's passport application had not been denied, but was still being processed.

"It was in the process of being evaluated," Paulson said. "He didn't have it, but the investigation into whether he would have it was ongoing."

The Canadian Press


RCMP release shooting video

Below is Thursday's statement from the Royal Canadian Mountain Police Commissioner Bob Paulson  in response to the Ottawa shooting

"We want to provide an update on certain aspects of the terrible events that unfolded yesterday in downtown Ottawa and on Parliament Hill.

Foremost, I would like to extend condolences on behalf of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to the friends and family of Corporal Nathan Cirillo.

Our sympathies are with our friends in the Canadian Forces, who have tragically lost another member of their family this week to senseless violence. 

Our thoughts are also with those who sustained injuries in yesterday’s incident, and those who were kept from their loved ones during the tense hours of lock-downs while police searched for other possible suspects.

As we all now know, the suspect has been identified as Michael Joseph Zehaf-Bibeau, 32 years old.  He is a Canadian citizen, and we have information that he may have had dual Libyan / Canadian citizenship.  He was born in Montreal has lived in Calgary and most recently in Vancouver.  

Here is what the RCMP knew about Zehaf-Bibeau before the incidents:

We were aware that he had applied recently for a passport as we were contacted to conduct background checks.  The RCMP did not possess information at that time that would reveal any National Security-related criminality.

His criminal records indicated infractions related to drug, violence and other criminal activities.

The RCMP also had uncorroborated information suggesting that he had associations with an individual who is known to us.  I can confirm that Zehaf-Bibeau was not one of the 90 high risk travellers that the RCMP is currently investigating.  According to some accounts, he was an individual who may have held extremist beliefs.

We have learned through the current investigation that this individual has been in Ottawa since at least October 2nd, 2014, that he was in town to deal with a passport issue but that he was hoping to leave for Syria.

We also learned yesterday that the beige vehicle used by the suspect was purchased on October 21, 2014.

There were concerns at the initial stage of the emergency response that there may have been more than one individual involved.  Our partners at the Ottawa Police Service and the RCMP agree that yesterday Zehaf-Bibeau acted alone and that he is the same person that perpetrated the attacks at both the National War Memorial and on Parliament Hill.

The investigation is ongoing and will rapidly determine if Zehaf-Bibeau received any support in the planning of his attack.

We have no information linking the two attacks this week, in St-Jean-sur-le-Richelieu and in Ottawa.  Our investigation has not revealed any link between Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau, the individual who perpetrated the attack against member of our Canadian Forces in Quebec.

These are difficult threats to detect.

There is no way of knowing where or when such an attack could take place.

I can provide you with a brief timeline of events as we understand them at this point.

Let me start by playing a video on how events unfolded yesterday and then I’ll explain in more details. (Can be seen above) 

  • Witnesses interviewed by Ottawa Police Services reported seeing the shooter, at around 9:50 coming from behind the War Memorial on the West side where he fires twice at Reservist Nathan Cirillo.
  • The shooter is positioned on an angle behind the victim where they cannot see him coming (as they are facing south). The shooter fires one shot at the second guard, but he missed him. Witnesses heard the suspect yelling something in English and then running towards the north.
  • The investigation revealed that he used the beige vehicle and headed to Wellington.
  • The first calls received via 911 were around 09:52:36
  • From the National War Memorial the suspect drove North on Wellington Street and parked his vehicle at 9:52:23 in front of the Elgin entrance.
  • He accessed the grounds of Parliament Hill at 9:52:31 on foot and started running toward East Block where MP vehicles were parked.
  • At 9:53:16, video footage shows the suspect overtook one of these vehicles and drove toward Centre Block.
  • At 9:53:37, he immobilized the vehicle on the left side of the Peace Tower and started running toward the main doors of Centre Block.  At that time, RCMP vehicles on site chased the suspect to the entrance of Centre Block.
  • The suspect entered Centre Block at 9:53:46, seconds before the RCMP officers that were chasing him were able to reach the doors.
  • It took approximately 1 minute and 23 seconds between the time the suspect parked the beige car and entered Centre Block
  • Once inside Centre Block, the suspect engaged in a fire exchange with the House of Commons Security and RCMP officers. The exact details of this exchange are still under investigation. We need to recognize the courage of all officers involved in this fluid and dangerous situation.
  • The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.  

There is no longer an immediate threat however we continue to exercise increased vigilance, and are taking extra precautions to ensure that Canadians remain safe across the country.

Until we are able to fully review the current threat picture, additional security measures have been taken to increase surveillance of suspected high risk travellers currently under investigation across the country.

This is an unsettling event for all of us.  Though we are calling on everyone to remain vigilant, I want to stress that you are safe.  Your families are safe.

It is disheartening and frightening to anyone – police included– when a senseless act of violence takes place in Canada.

I would like to acknowledge the response of RCMP members, Parliamentary security and Ottawa Police officers, who rushed into a dangerous and volatile situation.  We had a total of 400 resources deployed to Parliament Hill yesterday.  This included investigators, intelligence, emergency response teams, technical support, crisis negotiators, incident commanders, tactical troops and more. 

I realize there will be many questions regarding the RCMP’s role in protecting the Parliamentary Precinct.

I can tell you, it is certainly a challenging security environment.

We must balance the need to be responsive to potential threats and risks to our Parliamentarians, their staff and the general public, with the freedom to allow for secure and democratic access in and around our institutions of government.

I want to close by thanking the public who respected and tolerated the security perimeters established in downtown Ottawa yesterday, along with the many other citizens who patiently waited in lock-down until the scene was secure. 

There was a large volume of people at the scene of the incident and it took time to process them and ensure their safety.

Your cooperation was invaluable to officers who were trying to get a difficult job done under very stressful circumstances.

I also want to acknowledge the media who took time to sift through facts in order to provide timely and accurate information to the public.

We understand that when such terrible incidents happen, there is an appetite to know as much as possible - as soon as possible.

Trust that we want to provide you this information, but we also must respect protocol regarding notification of kin, along with protecting the integrity of the investigation of an incident that was still ongoing at the time.

Our investigation continues and is complex in scope.  We will be increasing our uniformed presence for the immediate future by adding an additional rapid response capability.

Be assured we have the right people working to accomplish the large task at hand.

We ask for the public’s continued patience as we continue to investigate this matter.

These tragic events underscore how we all must take active measures to ensure we protect that the safety and security of all Canadians.

Look out for each other. Remain vigilant, but know that Canada remains strong and free."

18810


23709


Cannan: We prayed for guards

The Government of Canada is back in session today, just 24-hours after a deadly shooting on the hill.

Canadian politicians are standing in unity against the acts of violence, refusing to be intimidated.

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan was on the Hill yesterday morning when gun shots rang through the hallways of parliament. He says they were going for about 30 minutes when they heard the shots.

“There was a series of 20-30, of what sounded like firecrackers going off,” says Cannan. “It was so surreal to suddenly hear a series of gunshots going off outside the room while the caucus meeting was going on, it was alarming. At first we didn't know what was going on, but then, by instinct, we all just laid low and took cover.”

Cannan says nearly 180 members were in the room. The door was blocked with chairs and everyone took cover.

“We just prayed for the guards and the RCMP because we knew with that many shots someone had to have been injured.”

He says several members of their caucus are former police officers who took charge of the situation and helped organize the lock-down.

“The command was to be quiet... and we just kept quiet,” says Cannan. “There was great anxiety of course, but you know, everyone stayed calm.”

His thoughts went immediately to his wife and children. He wanted to call them and let them know he was safe, but at first they were unable to reach their phones. Cannan explained that they must check their cellphones in before caucus, and they were all stored in a different room.

“I have a 24-year-old daughter and just thinking about the 24-year-old soldier who lost his life while protecting the national war memorial, my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

Eventually phones were handed out and everyone attempted to call home which Cannan says overwhelmed the system for a short while. He was able to eventually get a hold of his family as they woke up in Kelowna.

Cannan says they were held in lock-down for over 11-hours before they were all bussed to a location where all government officials were able to sit, talk, eat together and hear from the Prime Minister.

“There were Members of Parliament from all parties that were there and it was not a partisan issue,” explains Cannan. “It was a moment of Canadian unity and as the Prime Minister alluded to, it is a grim reminder that we are not immune to these types of terrorist acts....but Canada will not be intimated. We are a stronger country and will be more united, and it was heart-warming in that respect to see the unity within the House of Commons today.”

He says it was an especially powerful and moving moment Thursday morning when all the House of Commons stood and applauded the work of Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, he worked with RCMP to take down the shooter and secure Parliament. (photo above)

Vickers was near tears, as the entire house stood and clapped for a solid two-minutes before the meeting began.

“You know Wayne Gretzky is considered a national hero and he may have scored more goals than Mr. Vickers, but Mr. Vickers has saved more lives," notes Cannan. 

Today on the hill, Cannan says things are definitely different and security has tightened significantly, but he doesn't believe the changes will be long term.

“There will definitely be some changes, but, we don't want to have any knee-jerk reactions,” says Cannan. “We need to ensure safety while balancing Canadian's access to their House. Because, I think Canadian's take great pride in being able to visit and have access to Parliament and it would be a shame to lose that privilege.”

As for those in the Okanagan and Kelowna, Cannan doesn't feel there is any reason to be concerned.

“I think for 99 per cent of Canadians life won't change,” says Cannan. “I think there will be changes in Ottawa, but we don't live in fear, we still have the greatest country in the world. We need to continue to respect one another, and live by our values of protection of human rights, dignity, freedom and democracy.”

He adds that with Remembrance Day around the corner, “this is another reminder of all those men and women who have sacrificed their life for our freedom including Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.”



Military & uniforms in public

 

Members of the Canadian military in the Ottawa area have been told stop wearing their uniforms in public, with the exception of going back and forth to work.

While it has not been made a general order, a guidance directive was issued today after a reservist guarding the National War Memorial was shot and killed by a rifle-toting gunman who later stormed Parliament Hill and died in a gunfight inside the Centre Block.

The directive also follows Monday's tragedy in Quebec, where one soldier was killed and another was injured when they were struck by a car being driven by an extremist who had been looking to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The directive, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press, prohibits military members from stopping at grocery stores, taking public transit and even having lunch or coffee in public places while in uniform.

Such activities are still permitted when soldiers are wearing civilian attire.

The directive was issued today around the time Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and the country's top military commander, Gen. Tom Lawson, laid a wreath near the spot where Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down.

The Canadian Press


Bibeau not on high-risk list

The commissioner of the RCMP says Michael Zehaf Bibeau, the man killed Wednesday after a shooting at the National War Memorial and on Parliament Hill, was not on the RCMP's watch list of potential high-risk travellers.

Bob Paulson also says there's no evidence of a link between Zehaf Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau, who ran down two Canadian soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., on Monday.

Paulson is telling a news conference that Zehaf Bibeau was met with gunfire from Commons security as he ran into the Centre Block on Parliament Hill, brandishing a 30-30, lever-action Winchester rifle.

Video shown at the news conference indicates there were Mounties close on the gunman's heels as he rushed up the stairs and into the building.

The videos show the suspect abandoning a car on Wellington Street, in front of the Hill.

They show the man running up the drive, hijacking a cabinet minister's car and driving it a few dozen metres to the front door of Parliament.

The Canadian Press


Man arrested after gun found

Police arrested a man in Halifax and recovered a firearm on a nearby public transit bus Thursday after receiving a report of someone carrying what appeared to be a rifle wrapped in fabric in the city's downtown.

Const. Pierre Bourdages of Halifax Regional Police said a bus driver found the firearm and called police at about 11 a.m. Bourdages did not know what type of gun was seized.

He said a man is alleged to have left the gun on the bus and then walk down Argyle Street nearby, where he was arrested minutes later without incident.

"We have that man in custody right now and we have a firearm that was recovered on the Metro Transit bus," he said. "It's too early to determine if the incident from this morning and this one are connected."

The arrest comes after police said they received a single report at 8:36 a.m. of a man with a rifle on Duke and Brunswick streets, adjacent to the street where the gun was found.

Police also tweeted that they had received no indication of any threats being made.

Some schools in the area took precautions on the movement of students.

Doug Hadley of the Halifax Regional School Board said police advised Citadel High School to go into a hold and secure mode, which meant about 1,200 students could move freely inside the building but no one was allowed to leave or enter it.

Three elementary schools in the area also restricted the movement of students, with some keeping children inside at recess.

The Capital District Health Authority said on its Twitter feed that it had heightened security at all of its medical sites, but that appointments were continuing.

Everton McLean, a spokesman for the health authority, said they stationed more security personnel at the entrances of all of their facilities both in Halifax and outside the city.

"The security guards are aware of the situation and have been told to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity," he said.

A number of public buildings downtown, including museums and the public archives, tweeted that they had reopened shortly after the arrest was made.

Access to Halifax City Hall was restricted earlier in the day, but downgraded following the arrest.

The Canadian Press


Mom of gunman

The mother of the man identified as the assailant who killed a soldier at the National War Memorial before opening fire in Parliament says she is crying for the victims of the shooting, not her son.

In a brief and tear-filled telephone call Thursday, Susan Bibeau told the Associated Press she did not know what to say to those hurt in the attack.

"Can you ever explain something like this?" she said. "We are sorry."

Authorities have identified the shooter as Michael Zehaf Bibeau, who was known to police in Montreal and Vancouver

Zehaf Bibeau is suspected of shooting and killing Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist from Hamilton who was standing guard at the National War Memorial, before opening fire in the halls of Parliament.

Zehaf Bibeau was then killed in a gunfight in the Centre Block.

Three other people were injured in the melee, but were released from hospital on Wednesday.

The shootings had placed much of the national capital under lockdown but by Thursday morning, Ottawa police said they believed only one gunman was involved in the attacks.

The Canadian Press


Shooting victim a dog lover

A soldier shot and killed in Ottawa on Wednesday was a reservist who was only on a short-term posting at the National War Memorial, relatives and other sources said.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo of Hamilton, was gunned down as he and another soldier stood guard at the cenotaph.

"Our family is grieving," a relative reached at the Cirillo home told The Canadian Press.

"Right now is the wrong time to talk."

Military representatives were with the family and the man said he would not be speaking publicly immediately.

Cirillo's mother was reported to have gone to Ottawa while his father and sisters remained in Hamilton.

According to his Facebook profile, Cirillo was an animal lover, outdoor enthusiast and fitness buff.

Photographs show him posing with a dog last month. Other pictures show him with an axe in the woods in uniform, or smiling broadly as he stands in a river in swimming trunks. Another shows a kitten peeking out from his military backpack.

Cirillo, 24, left behind a six-year-old son, according to a friend who asked not to be named. He and the boy's mother had split up, the friend said.

"He loved his son," the friend said. He was the one guy that never picked a fight with anybody. He was just happy go lucky."

The friend called it "messed up" that Cirillo survived a serious motorcycle crash only to be gunned down.

David Cirillo, who identified himself as the soldier's cousin, expressed anger at the killing in a posting on Facebook.

"To the gunman that shot my cousin point blank in front of the Parliament Hill this morning for no reason, you will get what's coming to you," the posting reads.

"You destroyed my whole family for life. If there's a way I can find you I will kill you."

Cirillo, who attended Sherwood Secondary School in Hamilton, was also an online gaming enthusiast.

The soldier was standing on guard at the war memorial near Parliament Hill Wednesday morning when a man opened fire. The gunman was later shot dead in Parliament's Centre Block amid a frantic search for the assailant and any accomplices.

Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina called it a "such a terrible day" for Canada.

"When you're a soldier you understand that when you go into harm's way that there's always the possibility that the worst could happen, but who would ever think of it standing in ceremony at the cenotaph in Ottawa," Bratina told CP24.

After visiting the family, Bratina said Cirillo joined the cadets as a 13-year-old and became a reservist.

He was only at the cenotaph for a day or so, the mayor said.

"(He) would have been a trained combat soldier sadly taken in this cowardly ambush, which makes the tragedy even greater," said Bratina.

"The sad timing of this man's life to put him there in that position on the day that this occurrence took place is just a horrible irony."

At least two memorial Facebook pages to Cirillo sprang up within hours after the killing.

"RIP Cpl. Nathan," said one comment. "Thank you so much for serving our country. My sincerest condolences to your family. My thoughts and prayers are with you."

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who represents a Hamilton riding, expressed her condolences, saying Cirillo served bravely with the city's Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders — the 91st Canadian Highlanders.

At his home armoury, soldiers watched through the locked gates Wednesday evening as people added flowers and stuffed animals to a growing memorial for their slain comrade.

The Canadian Press


Canada will not be intimidated

The gunman who staged a deadly attack Wednesday on Parliament Hill was a terrorist whose despicable crime will only harden Canada's resolve to crack down on terrorists at home and abroad, Stephen Harper says.

The prime minister tied Wednesday's extraordinary events — the killing of an honour guard at the National War Memorial and a subsequent shootout inside Parliament's Centre Block — to an incident two days earlier in Quebec, where one soldier was killed and another injured when they were run down by a car driven by a man with declared sympathies for Islamic extremists.

Harper referred to the hit-and-run incident as "ISIL-inspired," a reference to the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, against whom Canada has joined a U.S.-led bombing campaign in Iraq. The driver was killed by police.

The Parliament Hill gunman was himself shot dead by the sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons.

"Fellow Canadians, in the days to come we will learn more about the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had," Harper said in a live televised statement.

"But this week's events are a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world."

Attacks on Canadian security personnel and governing institutions are, "by their very nature, attacks on our country, on our values, on our society, on us Canadians as a free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all," he said.

But Canada will not be intimidated, Harper declared.

"In fact, this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts, and those of our national security agencies, to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home — just as it will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores.

"They will have no safe haven."

Harper offered the country's condolences to the family of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a 24-year-old reservist who was shot twice at point-blank range at the war memorial near Parliament Hill.

Cirillo was "murdered in cold blood" at a "sacred place that pays tribute to those who gave their lives so that we can live in a free, democratic and safe society," he said.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair echoed Harper in expressing his revulsion for what he called "a cowardly attack designed to strike at the heart of our democracy, the heart of who we are."

But he appealed to Canadians not to give in to feelings of vengeance.

"We woke up this morning in a country blessed by love, diversity and peace," Mulcair said in a televised statement immediately following Harper's.

"And tomorrow we will do the same. These acts were driven by hatred but also designed to drive us to hate. They will not. We will stand up and we will stand together."

Similarly, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau called the "brutal and heartless" acts of violence "unforgivable" and said any other accomplices must be caught and punished "to the full force of the law."

But he also urged Canadians not to let anger or fear change the country's values, describing Canada as an open, welcoming, fair, democratic, peace-loving country.

"Criminals cannot and will not dictate to us how we act as a nation, how we govern ourselves and how we treat each other ... and they do not get to decide how we use our shared public places," Trudeau said.

Of the three leaders, Trudeau was the only one to directly address Muslim Canadians.

"To our friends and fellow citizens in the Muslim community, Canadians know that acts such as these committed in the name of Islam are an aberration of your faith," he said.

"Continued mutual co-operation and respect will help prevent the influence of distorted, ideological propaganda posing as religion. We will walk forward together, not apart."

Conservative and NDP MPs had been gathered for their weekly caucus meetings Wednesday morning when the shots erupted in the Hall of Honour, which separates the caucus rooms of the two parties.

Harper, who had been addressing his MPs at the time, was whisked to safety at an undisclosed location.

Mulcair and his MPs barricaded the doors of their caucus room with chairs and tables and hid under tables before being escorted by security officials out of Centre Block. An aide said Mulcair insisted on staying with his MPs, most of whom were led through a tunnel to the adjacent East Block, where they remained under lockdown until the evening.

Trudeau and some aides had just emerged from his fifth-floor office and were on their way to the Liberal caucus meeting in the basement of Centre Block when the shootout erupted. They were told to return to the office and lock the doors.

Later in the day, as security officials conducted an office-by-office search, Trudeau and his staff were relocated to the fifth-floor cafeteria, where they remained under lockdown until after 8 p.m.

18810
The Canadian Press


Ottawa shooting: world reaction

Countless world leaders have walked that hallway before. On Wednesday, they reacted to news of an attack that saw gunfire sprayed through the hall of honour in Canada's Parliament.

President Barack Obama said he was rattled by it.

There are images of him on his first foreign trip as president, laughing with Prime Minister Stephen Harper as they walked down that Gothic-style ceremonial hallway in February 2009.

"I had a chance to travel to the Parliament in Ottawa. I'm very familiar with that area," Obama recalled Wednesday.

"I am reminded of how warmly I was received and how wonderful the people there were. And so, obviously, we're all shaken by it. But we're going to do everything we can to make sure that we're standing side-by-side with Canada during this difficult time."

On Wednesday, he called Harper to offer his condolences over what the president described as a tragedy and an outrage. While he said the details remained unclear, Obama said it's very important for Canada and the U.S. to remain "entirely in-sync" when dealing with terrorist activity.

The shooting led to increased security at the U.S.'s Ottawa embassy. Given that the attack began at Canada's tomb of the unknown soldier, there was also stepped-up security at the American equivalent of that monument, in Arlington, Va.

The White House daily briefing began with a word of condolence.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron also walked down that hallway that separates the two chambers of Canada's Parliament on Sept. 22, 2011 — also smiling, with Harper beside him.

He took to Twitter to express his indignation: "I'm appalled by today's attack in Ottawa. I offer my full support to @pmharper and the Canadian people as they deal with this incident."

The shooting was a top news story in numerous countries.

All the main American news networks offered live coverage throughout the day. It was also a lead item on the best-known newspaper sites in a number of countries including the U.S., the U.K., Mexico, France and Italy.

The top headline on France's Le Monde newspaper website was, "Ottawa Boucle" (Ottawa On Lockdown). Italy's La Repubblica website ran several headlines underneath one that declared, "Canada Sotto Attacco" (Canada Under Attack).

Even in Turkey — which borders an active war zone where an international coalition is fighting Islamist rebels — the Canadian events became major news.

Some foreign media instantly drew conclusions about a terrorist link to the attack — this in the absence of any official word yet from authorities about a motive.

The U.K.'s Daily Telegraph asked, "How An Oasis Of Tranquility Became a Breeding Ground For Terrorists." America's Daily Beast declared in a headline, "Terrorist Ends Canada's Innocence."

One Canadian MP told an international audience that, on the contrary, the country must resist being bullied into changing.

NDP MP Charlie Angus was one of numerous Canadian politicians who granted interviews to all-news U.S. cable outlets, as they offered blanket coverage throughout the day.

He described hearing the gunshots from inside the Opposition members' chamber during the weekly caucus meeting, right across that hall of honour from the government caucus room.

And he told his American interviewer that Canadians weren't going to be intimidated by this.

"We're not gonna let punks, or crazies, or terrorists, take us down. Not gonna happen," the NDP MP told the Fox News Network.

"We don't give in to it."

One U.S. law-enforcement analyst told CNN that this incident would produce the same kind of scrutiny in Canada that occurred when a knife-wielding man recently jumped the fence to enter the White House.

That White House invasion prompted a series of follow-up stories about other security lapses, which led to the resignation of the head of the Secret Service.

A recurring theme of some of the American news coverage was that question of security: How could a gunman manage to walk right into Canada's Parliament?

In Washington, after the 9-11 attacks, security tightened considerably. The effects remain evident to this day. Airport-style metal detectors were installed in numerous buildings and they remain there, including at Canada's embassy.

But not even those safeguards, nor the fact that the main stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue has been shut down to vehicle traffic since the 1990s, prevented an intruder from recently entering the White House.

In response to that incident, the Secret Service recently set up a new, movable, fence outside the White House, just a little farther out from the older permanent one.

The Canadian Press


Parliament Hill shooting

The Globe and Mail (YouTube)

The CBC and Global news are confirming that the man in this photo, originally posted by terrorist group ISIS on Twitter, is the shooter in Ottawa. 


Update -- 1:30 p.m.

Other media outlets are now reporting that the soldier killed was Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a 24-year-old reservist from Hamilton. He was a member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

The gunman killed inside Parliament is said to be Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian citizen said to have been born in 1982. It's believed he shot Cirillo outside at the National War Memorial, before heading towards the Centre Block inside the Parliament buildings.


Update -- 12:30 p.m.

 

 

Ottawa police are staying tight lipped on what information they have on Wednesdays shooting at Parliament Hill.

They have confirmed that one shooter is dead, but would not say whether more shooters are still loose in the area.

“This is an ongoing joint police operation and there is no one in custody at this time,” said a statement released by the police service.

It goes on to ask Ottawa residents to stay away from the downtown area while the investigation continues as they continue clearing offices on Parliament Hill and from the surrounding area.

A number of RCMP and Federal government building are also closed to the public at this time, including City Hall and all Ottawa police stations.

The unnamed solider killed while standing guard at the National War Memorial was a reservist from Ottawa. His identity has not been released pending notification of next of kin. Witnesses say he was shot “point blank” by a masked, rifle-wielding gunman, who then moved up the street to launch an attack on nearby Parliament Hill, in which at least two people were injured.

A security guard is believed to be among those who were wounded in Parliament's Centre Block, where an assailant was shot dead by the sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons. No details about the second injured person were immediately available.

However, security staff on the Hill have told some MPs' offices they believe there may be as many as three shooters. Heavily armed tactical officers could be seen searching rooftops in the immediate parliamentary precinct.

Police would only say they are investigating "several shooting incidents in downtown Ottawa."

The incident comes just two days after two Canadian soldiers were run over — one of them fatally — in Quebec by a man with jihadist sympathies.

Tony Zobl, 35, witnessed the soldier being gunned down at the War Memorial from his fourth-floor office window directly above the monument.

"I looked out the window and saw a shooter, a man dressed all in black with a kerchief over his nose and mouth and something over his head as well, holding a rifle and shooting an honour guard in front of the Cenotaph point blank, twice," Zobl told The Canadian Press.

"It looked like the honour guard was trying to reach for the barrel of the gun," said the witness.

"The honour guard dropped to the ground and the shooter kind of raised his arms in triumph holding the rifle."

Zobl said the shooter then ran up the street toward Parliament Hill.


Update -- 10 a.m.

It is now being reported that three people have been taken to hospital, with two of those patients in stable condition. Police say the gunman wounded a soldier, before injuring a security guard on Parliament Hill, where he was reportedly shot dead. 

Another witness at the scene, construction worker Scott Walsh, says he was working in a manhole near the East Block building, between the memorial and the Centre Block, when he heard two gunshots echo down the street.

Walsh says in the ensuing panic people around him started screaming, including a woman pushing a child in a stroller.

He said she started to run, so he went to help her.

That's when he saw man with long black hair, his face covered by a white scarf with decals on it and wearing a black jacket.

"He had a double-barrelled shotgun, he was about five feet from me, and he ran right beside us, ran past the woman with the stroller and child," he said.

The gunman then hijacked a dark car at gunpoint, he said, and drove it up towards the Peace Tower.

A second vehicle, with no rear licence plate, was parked directly in front of the Langevin Block in a no-parking zone. Sources say the vehicle remains a source of concern to authorities.

Bomb-detecting robots have been deployed in the area.

It has also been confirmed by CBC News that the soldier shot at the Canadian War Memorial has died in hospital. 


Update -- 8:45 a.m.

Police are expanding a perimeter around Parliament Hill after a gunman opened fire at the National War Memorial, wounding a soldier, then moved to nearby Parliament Hill where he was reportedly shot by Parliament's sergeant-at-arms after wounding a security guard.

The Hill remains under lockdown amid reports there may be two to three shooters, according to a senior official locked in the Official Opposition Leaders' office.

Police say they are investigating "several shooting incidents in downtown Ottawa."

The Langevin Block, home of the Prime Minister's Office across the street from Parliament Hill, has now been evacuated and citizens are being moved back more than two blocks from the Parliamentary precinct.

Police herded bystanders off the street into a major office building and warned people to stay away from the windows.

Canadian Forces bases across the country have also been closed to public in wake of the shooting. 

That Includes here in Kelowna, where the British Columbia Dragoons Reserve Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment has been directed to adopt a "heightened state of vigilance".  Captain Jeff Daley says it is business as usual, but the gate of the base has been locked down and it might be harder for the public to contact the Dragoons at this time.

It is still too early to link Wednesday's shooting to an incident where two Canadian soldiers were hit by a speeding car in Quebec on Monday.


Update -- 8:15 a.m.

A gunman opened fire at the National War Memorial, wounding a soldier, then moved to nearby Parliament Hill and wounded a security guard before he was shot, reportedly by Parliament's sergeant-at-arms.

The Hill remains under lockdown amid reports there may be two to three shooters, according to a senior official locked in the Official Opposition Leaders' office.

Conservative MP Bob Zimmer has tweeted that a gunman was shot and killed, but that report was not immediately verified by police.

Two sources told The Canadian Press that Kevin Vickers, the sergeant-at-arms for the House of Commons, shot an assailant.

The gunman reportedly ran towards Parliament Hill, which is currently under lockdown and surrounded by security.

Cabinet minister Tony Clement tweeted that at least 30 shots were heard inside the building, where Conservative and Liberal MPs were holding their weekly caucus meetings.

Most of those MPs remain locked down in their caucus rooms.

The NDP caucus was evacuated along with the Liberal Senate caucus.

A witness reported that a man drove up in a black vehicle, got out carrying a rifle and ran into the Centre Block — the seat of the House of Commons under the Peace Tower.

The man was dressed in black with a scarf wrapped around his face.

Witnesses reported hearing shots fired in several different corridors. Some people fled the building by scrambling down scaffolding erected for renovations.


Original story Oct 22, 7:15

A soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa has been shot by an unknown gunman and there have been reports of gunfire inside the halls of Parliament.

Ottawa police confirmed they had a call at 9:52 a.m. with a report of shots fired.

Witnesses reported seeing the gunman running towards Parliament Hill, which is currently under lockdown. Others on the Hill say they heard shots being fired in several different corridors.

Tory MP Bob Zimmer has tweeted that the gunman was shot and killed, but that report could not be immediately verified.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was rushed away from the building to an undisclosed location, officials in his office said.

It is caucus morning on the Hill, meaning most MPs are in the Centre Block.

Police cars and emergency vehicles are clustered at the foot of the Peace Tower and the Centre Block is being evacuated.

Chuck Bronley of Ottawa said he was near the memorial when he heard four shots and saw a man running away carrying a rifle.

A tourist from the Netherlands was also nearby when he heard four shots, and saw an armed man with long, dark hair fleeing.

Police were yelling at bystanders, shouting that there was still a shooter on the loose.

"DND member is down," one officer was overheard saying.

Bronley was fairly certain the victim was one of the ceremonial guards at the War Memorial.

Two people vigorously pumped the victim's chest on the stairs of the War Memorial, until the victim was finally placed on a stretcher and ushered into an ambulance shortly after 10 a.m.

Paramedics performed CPR on the soldier before he was taken away by ambulance

The incident comes just two days after two Canadian soldiers were run over — and one of them killed — in Quebec by a man with jihadist sympathies.

18810
The Canadian Press


MPs credit sergeant-at-arms

The man who is reported to have shot an assailant on Parliament Hill is a former police officer with a background in providing security services for dignitaries, including members of the Royal Family.

Kevin Vickers, 58, became the sergeant-at-arms in the House of Commons eight years ago after a varied career in security.

He spent 29 years with the RCMP and rose to the rank of chief superintendent, often serving as the face of the national police force in New Brunswick. Before his appointment as sergeant-of-arms, Vickers was director of security operations for the House of Commons.

He had previously worked as aide-de-camp for New Brunswick's lieutenant-governor.

The sergeant-at-arms is responsible for safeguarding the authority of the House of Commons, as well as the safety and security of the Parliament buildings.

As an RCMP officer, Vickers has been responsible for security services provided for the Queen and Prince Andrew.

On Twitter, MPs credited Vickers with saving their lives.

"MPs and Hill staff owe their safety, even lives, to Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers who shot attacker just outside the MPs' caucus rooms," tweeted New Democrat Craig Scott.

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino tweeted: "I am safe & profoundly grateful to Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our security forces for selfless act of keeping us safe."

Justice Minister Peter MacKay thanked Vickers and security forces on Parliament Hill.

"Thank God for Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our Cdn security forces. True heroes," he tweeted.

Although sergeants-at-arms often operate outside of the public spotlight, the events on Parliament Hill are not the first time they have been instrumental in preventing bloodshed in Canadian history.

When army supply clerk Denis Lortie opened fire in Quebec's national assembly in 1984, the legislature's sergeant-at-arms went into the chamber and tried to calm him.

Rene Jalbert, a retired major in the army, offered Lortie a cigarette and eventually persuaded him to release about a dozen hostages who were cowering in the chamber.

The legislature was minutes away from convening when Lortie entered the building through a side door carrying two submachine guns, and at one point sat in the Speaker's chair firing wildly. He killed three people and wounded 13 others.

The Canadian Press


Some military bases locked down

Canadian Forces bases across the country have been ordered to consider increasing security levels after shootings on Parliament Hill and at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

Maj.-Gen. Christopher Coates says bases have been asked to take "precautions appropriate to their environments" to ensure the safety and security of personnel, equipment and buildings.

Military and civilian personnel working in the Ottawa area have also been told to remain in their buildings until further notice.

In Halifax, gates to the waterfront navy base, the air base and other bases in the city were locked as part of the heightened security effort.

Capt. Peter Ryan of Maritime Forces Atlantic says other measures can't be discussed in order to ensure the safety and security of military personnel.

But he says the security measures aren't in response to any local incidents.

A source in the Defence Department says instructions were also sent by email on behalf of Rear Admiral John Newton to personnel advising them to avoid appearing in uniform in public places.

A spokesman for the Defence Department in Ottawa could not be reached for comment on whether a similar directive had been issued to military personnel across the country.

The source confirmed that the message from Newton asked staff "to restrict movement in uniform in public as much as possible."

The Canadian Press




Read more Canada News

21350


Recent Trending





23854




23416






Member of BC Press Council


21343