There’s no question that Wednesday was like no other day in Canadian history.
Images abound of passersby trying to save the life of a solider shot at the National War Memorial in Ottawa and MPs barricading themselves in rooms after hearing gunfire in the Parliament buildings. The video of the shootout in the Hall of Honour has been widely circulated.
Canada’s very symbol of our democracy ground to a halt as police tried to secure the House of Commons and identify any potential suspects.
Obviously the situation could have been far worse given the proximity of the prime minister and other senior-level politicians to the shooting, but Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers remained calm and heroically brought the situation to an end.
At the War Memorial, the loss of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo is tragic and a stark reminder of the risk members of the military take on our behalf.
Obviously there is a need to review security on Parliament Hill after an armed individual managed to walk through the country’s seat of power. The challenge will be, though, to ensure the protection of MPs and government workers while still allowing Canadians to visit a national treasure.
The other issue that needs to be investigated further is whether the gunman was acting alone or was part of a more organized effort. There have been suggestions that he was radicalized, but even if that is proven to be the case, we must all remember that there are extreme elements in all faiths. The vast majority of all people, no matter their religion, are law-abiding and contribute fully to our country.
Even as the shock over Wednesday’s shootings dominates headlines and the investigation continues, Canadians need to remember that we live on the greatest nation on Earth. We remain strong together and we can overcome these tragedies.