Politics on pause
It was refreshing to hear of MPs in Ottawa putting partisan politics aside last Thursday morning in order to come to grips with the violence they were oh-so-close-to the day before.
No doubt, there will be some political fallout in the aftermath of Wednesday’s fatal shooting of a Canadian soldier standing beside the National War Memorial on Parliament Hill.
The shocking event later spilled into the Centre Block building of Parliament. MPs from the Conservative Party and NDP were holding separate meetings across the hallway from each other at the time. The suspected shooter made his way through that hallway. Shots were eventually fired, resulting in his death.
Assuming most MPs live quite comfortably in quiet neighbourhoods, they likely are not used to being this close to such scenes. Generally, this should apply to most Canadians — a CBC reporter live on radio said she thought she heard a shot later that day, but also admitted she was not overly familiar with the sound of gunfire.
The same cannot be said for experienced soldiers. Canadians understand what combat missions entail, and deaths in the Afghanistan conflict reiterated that point. In all likelihood, there will be more Canadian casualties once the mission targeting terrorist group ISIL’s activities in Iraq gears up.
The death of soldiers on home soil is another matter entirely. Two days before events in Ottawa unfolded, there was a fatal hit-and-run incident in Quebec that appeared to target two Canadian soldiers, one of whom died.
As of The Compass’ Friday deadline, there was no concrete evidence linking the two events. No doubt more will be learned in the days ahead.
Some have suggested these sorts of things don’t happen in Canada. But they do. People get shot and die. It is always tragic. According to Statistics Canada, there were 172 fatal shootings across the country in 2012.
The visibility of this incident was something else entirely — social media was a beehive of activity, with journalists on Parliament Hill providing minute-by-minute accounts of what was happening.
The idea that military personnel need to watch their backs in the country they serve is a scary one. By the time these words are read, it’s hoped there are no copycats to be heard of.
In the meantime, may politicians in Ottawa dial-down their usual antics of vilifying each other. Peace and harmony may not last for elected officials — Prime Minister Stephen Harper sharing hugs with the opposition leaders probably will not become a regular thing — but here’s hoping it does for Canadians. And may those with ill thoughts who need help get it, before something else tragic happens.