Back on the Saanich Peninsula last week for the annual Crystal Awards, Green Party leader and MP Elizabeth May recounted the details of being locked down during the shooting incident at the Centre block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. She told a crowd at the Butchart Gardens on Oct. 23 she thinks that security measures will change in this country as a result.
On Oct. 22, a gunman shot and killed a reservist soldier standing guard at the War Memorial, before proceeding to enter the Parliament, just meters from where Conservative and New Democrat meetings were being held.
The man was killed by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers and an RCMP officer, according to media reports of the incident.
“It was a surreal experience,” said May, who added she had passed through the Centre Block about 20 minutes before the shooter entered the building.
“I was there at around 6:55 a.m. and left at around 9:15 a.m.,” she explained, adding she went to a meeting at her own office in the Confederation Block.
Her small office, she continued, had eight people in it at the time and they had to remain inside as offices were told to barricade themselves in.
They would eventually get out of lockdown once the danger had passed. Work resumed the next morning, she said.
“It was an overwhelmingly emotional experience,” May said of the tribute the following morning to Vickers in the House.
As the story unfolds about the shooter and his crime, May said she is waiting for all of the facts before labelling it as anything other than a crime. She does, however, think that it will relate in some way to mental health issues.
“We will have to see in the coming days what narrative comes up,” she said. “We have to wait for the facts on both of the events involving our soldiers.”
The previous week, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, was killed after a car struck him. The driver, according to media reports, is being linked to terrorist ideology.
While May said she doesn’t think the Ottawa gunman was anything other than a disturbed individual, she admitted she could be wrong.
“This didn’t seem like a person with a mission,” she said.
May said she hopes the cooperation and caring within Parliament in the wake of the attack continues, but admitted she doesn’t have high hopes.
“Security measures will change,” she continued. “We had good security already and, thank God, they were there.”
May could not say to what extent the incident would change Canada’s security policies or the public’s access to their government.
— with files from Daniel Palmer