Cpl. Cirillo remembered
One year after the attack on Parliament Hill that killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo , he was honoured in Ottawa and also in his hometown of Hamilton, where the city re-named an off-leash dog park after Cirillo, who was a dog-lover.
One year ago today
It was a day like no other in Canada’s history; an attack on Parliament Hill that began with the deadly shooting unarmed reservist standing on guard and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and ended with a complete change in the way we view our security in Canada.
The work of a lone gunman created chaos on the hill, and took the life of 24 year old Corporal Nathan Cirillo. As witnesses later reported, the gunman shot Cirillo three times in the back, before hijacking a car and driving to Parliament Hill’s Centre Block,
“I look over at the War Memorial over there…and I see the…the man with a rifle shooting at innocent people, we ducked for cover and we see him jumping into a green car, and he heads up the street.”
“Soon as I saw what was going on, another shot came, so I just kind of went down, you know, in case things were coming my way. Oh yeah, he took off, towards the Parliament buildings. And he took off with a shotgun, and it was pretty intense.”
The gunman is later identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, and later still we learn his mother is Susan Bibeau, a Federal Government Deputy Chairperson for the Immigration division.
Zehaf-Bibeau makes it into Centre Block and begins shooting. MPs and others are forced to hide. Gunfire is exchanged in the Hall of Honours and mere minutes after the gunman enters – at 9:57 AM – his body is seen on the floor outside the Library of Parliament.
Among those firing the fatal shot, House Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers.
Listen to CKNW reporter Ria Renouf’s documentary on the day of the shootings below:
Ottawa goes into lockdown
But that wasn’t the end of the chaos, as reports of shots fired in the area near Rideau Shopping Centre lead to an evacuation.
Later those reports turn out to be false.
Mounties are seen with their guns drawn at the Chateau Laurier, and that building is also put under a lockdown.
There is no second gunman, but it takes hours to confirm that. Almost twelve hours after it all beganer, MPs on Twitter confirm Parliament’s lockdown has ended.
In the following days as the country mourns the death of Corporal Cirillo, questions are also raised about Canada’s security measures. In the House of Commons, Then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggests additional tools may be needed to identify threats to our national security.
“The reality is that our police and national security agencies are aware of such individuals seeking to become foreign fighters. There are already such Canadians elsewhere in the country, and these agencies are doing with – everything within the law to resist and to, to deal with that kind of threat. Mr. Speaker, it’s our judgement they may need additional tools and we’re examining that matter.”
Then-Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair cautioned against drastic measures.
“It only strengthened our commitment to each other and to a peaceful world. Now, let us not become more suspicious of our neighbours. Let’s not be driven by fear, because, in Canada, love always triumphs over hate.”
Within months of the attack, the Harper Governments introduced Bill C-51, also known as the Anti-terrorism Act. It passed its second reading in the House of Commons in February 2015 and was passed by the Senate in June 2015.
A public opinion poll taken shortly after the attack, showed a lack of confidence in security forces at the time Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down guarding the National War Memorial.
The Angus Reid Institute says last October during the time of the Ottawa shootings, public opinion polls suggested more than half of Canadians said they were NOT confident in the ability of domestic security services to prevent homegrown terrorist attacks.
Spokesperson Shachi Kurl says nearly 36% of respondents thought the Parliament Hill shooting was a terrorist attack, 38% said it was an act of mental illness, and the rest were undecided.
“Canadian opinion was fairly split on this issue. The same number roughly thought it was a terrorist attack, as thought it was an issue dealing with mental illness.”
One month later in November, another poll suggested confidence in security improved with 50% of respondents expressing trust in the ability of institutions such as the RCMP and CSIS.