Two years ago today a lone gunman, who we discovered later had been inspired by ISIS and had just killed a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial, stormed through the front doors of the Centre Block of Parliament Hill. For many Canadians it was extremely disturbing to think that such a terrorist attack could take place in the cathedral of our democracy.
As the situation unfolded the entire Ottawa downtown was placed in lockdown as police tried to determine the extent of the threat. I spent ten hours stuck in my office in the parliamentary precinct, staying away from the windows as we had been warned there may be snipers on the roof of the building next door.
I wrote a piece that day that I just realized I never posted here, although I did link to it. My friend Paul, discovering I was stuck at work, asked if I could share some impressions with the readers of his blog. I didn’t know much about the facts of what was happening, but here are my thoughts, written while the incident was still underway.
I am writing this from behind locked doors in an office in the Parliament Hill precinct. More than six hours ago a gunman killed a soldier at the National War Memorial; then he or someone else broke into the Hall of Honour in Parliament Hill’s Centre Block where he was killed just metres away from the rooms where the Government and Opposition MPs were holding their weekly caucus meeting.
At this point we don’t know anything about the gunmen, how many there were, what motivated their attack. We don’t even know when they will unlock the doors and let us out – police are concerned there may be more shooters out there.
What we do know is that this will change security procedures on Parliament Hill, and our open seat of government is likely to be a lot less open to the public in the future, and that is a shame.
I suspect that for many Members of Parliament this incident, no matter what the cause is eventually determined to be, will bring about a time of personal reflection on their own mortality. I have seen the video clips on television. Only a door separated our political leaders from the gunman. There is no doubt the death toll could have been much higher, that a much greater tragedy (numerically) was narrowly averted.
I would think that such a close call would lead to a certain amount of introspection, a questioning of priorities on those who were in the rooms on either side of that hall. When you start asking “what if” you need to take it to the logical conclusion. “What if I had been shot?” What if I had died? What would happen to me then?”
The Christians in the room already know the answer to those questions. I hope the other MPs take the time to find out, because you really never do know when you will be facing your own mortality, which makes it always a good idea to know what you are going to say when you meet your maker.