Pol­i­tics on pause

The Compass - - OPINION - An­drew Robin­son is the ed­i­tor for The Com­pass. He can be reached at ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca.

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.

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