CANADA’S parliament returned to work yesterday and gave a hero’s welcome to the sergeant-at-arms who shot a gunman dead the day before.
The session opened with a lengthy standing ovation for the sergeant, Kevin Vickers, who killed a man who shot a soldier at Ottawa’s nearby war memorial. The ovation was followed by a moment’s silence.
Prime minister Stephen Harper later took to the floor and told his country: “We will be vigilant, but we will not run scared. We will be prudent, but we will not panic.”
He said the objective of the attacks was to instil fear and panic in Canada, as he vowed to expedite security measures to strengthen powers of surveillance and detention.
Mr Harper said: “I know we will always stand together… and as for the business of government, well here we are, in our seats, in our chamber, in the very heart of our democracy and our work goes on.”
The day belonged to Mr Vickers, 58, who less than 24 hours earlier had shot dead gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau just outside the MPs’ caucus rooms in the parliament building.
The sergeant-at-arms, who had served as a Mountie for almost 30 years, had tears in his eyes as the politicians showed their appreciation.
The gunman, a Muslim convert, had earlier shot 24-year-old Cpl Nathan Cirillo at point-blank range as he guarded the memorial. He died in hospital shortly after.
Video footage of Mr Vickers calmly walking through Parliament with a small silver gun in his hand emerged yesterday.
Yesterday, police said they have information which suggests Zehaf-Bibeau had association with people who shared his radical views and understand he had been hoping to leave for Syria, They also say there had been a delay a passport application made by the gunman which “was part of his motivation” for his rampage.
His parents last night issued a statement apologising for their son’s actions and said they had not seen him in five years. Police said they believe he acted alone after initial concerns they were looking for up to three suspects.
It was the second attack on Canada’s military in three days – on Monday a recent convert to Islam killed a Canadian soldier in Quebec. The attacks stunned Canadians and raised concerns their country was being targeted for reprisals for recently joining the US-led air campaign against the extremist Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
The Canadian prime minister visited the spot where Cpl Cirillo, a reservist serving with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada regiment, was killed and laid a wreath in his memory.
A man who broke through a cordon at the war memorial near where Mr Harper was laying the floral tribute was arrested. He is not understood to be a terror suspect.
The heart of Canada’s capital city had been in lockdown after Wednesday’s attack but yesterday Ottawa police chief Charles Bordeleau declared “there is no longer a threat to public safety”.
The incident has led to police and intelligence chiefs in the UK reviewing the security of Parliament.