A young Canadian man and possible recent convert to Islam (according to Fox Noise) shot a soldier at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa a couple of days ago, then commandeered a car and driver and made his way to Parliament where he managed to get inside of the building and fire off a couple of more rounds before he was fatally shot by Parliament's Sergeant-at-Arms. The shooter, 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, had recently had his passport revoked by the Canadian government and was reportedly a person of interest to the government. He was using a lever-action hunting rifle that, without reloading - which he did not do - could fire a maximum of eight single shots.
The Canadian Parliament has been remarkably easy to access. When the shooter was killed, he was reportedly outside of the room where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was meeting with his party caucus.
I heard on the radio this morning that the grounds of the Canadian Parliament are used by the public on a daily basis - for strolling, playing frisbee, and even yoga classes. Now, sadly, security is likely to be ramped up with the result being something like the nearly inaccessible United States Capitol.
In the summer of 1990 our family took a leisurely vacation drive through much of Ontario and Quebec. One Saturday as we were driving toward Ottawa, the capital, the Prime Minister at the time, Brian Mulroney, was on all of the local radio stations promoting the Meech Lake Accord, an agreement that he and the ten provincial premiers had reached regarding five new proposed amendments to the Canadian Constitution. The amendments, which ultimately failed to make it into the constitution, were designed to make the residents of Quebec, a province with a strong historical French culture, feel more respected and accepted by the rest of Canada. Mulroney was giving his radio address from the Parliament building in Ottawa.
Mulroney was still speaking as we rolled into Ottawa and onto the grounds of Parliament. We had just parked and were climbing out of our van when a group of reporters rushed by and one said that the Prime Minister was about to come out. Being tourists, we followed the crowd to a set of large ornate doors which immediately swung open and discharged Prime Minister Mulroney, his wife, and a squad of government bureaucrats out into the small crowd. The elected leader of Canada paused long enough to shake a few hands, including mine, and then climbed into his limo and was whisked away from the unwashed masses.
I thought at the time how refreshingly different Canada was from Reagan's fortress America. I hope this week's shooting doesn't result in them becoming as paranoid and as isolated from their halls of government as we are.
Canada, do overreact. You're better than that!