By Roger Currie
I have not had the joy of spending Canada Day on Parliament Hill, but I think it should definitely be added to my ‘bucket list’. I have visited the area a couple of times, and I sat in the public gallery when John Diefenbaker was still the right honourable member for Prince Albert.
The history and grandeur of the place is overwhelming, and it can’t help but give you a feeling of pride and gratitude. What a stunning contrast were the events of October 22 when 24-year-old Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist, was killed as he stood guard at the National War Memorial. The gunman then made it all the way to the Hall of Honour inside the Centre Block, before he was killed in a bizarre shootout that included the Sergeant-at-Arms.
Kevin Vickers spent 29 years as a member of the RCMP, but he never even drew his gun in the line of duty. In times of crisis, true heroes emerge, although in Canada they generally are embarrassed by the attention.
The following morning saw an extraordinary show of unity as MPs returned to their desks. Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair, and Justin Trudeau all said exactly the right things, then they crossed the floor and hugged each other, as well the Sergeant. It was a truly magnificent scene, and we can only hope that the spirit of it might continue in some small way.
Two days before the attack on Parliament Hill, a military warrant officer was killed in a bizarre vehicle crash near Montreal. The dead suspect in that one is believed to have been a terrorist in training — a young Canadian who had been “radicalized” to attack his own country. It’s believed there could be dozens of such people posing a danger to the safety of Canada. The reasons why are beyond comprehension for most of us.
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Roger Currie is a writer, storyteller, voice for hire, observer of life on the Canadian prairies, and can be heard on CJNU 93.7FM in Winnipeg.