Saturday, 25 October 2014


When, on 22 October, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian convert to radical Islam, apparently annoyed at Canada joining the aerial assault on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo on guard at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa, then raced to cross the nearby lawn fronting Parliament to enter and kill as many politicians as possible, Canada had all the defences a modern nation should need.
     The Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers,  responsible for security in the House of Commons, had his ceremonial mace dating back to 1642, and which could make a good club.  The Prime Minister and all those other ministers, who were conducting caucus meetings, had numerous spears that were serving as staffs for flags.
     Well, yes, in addition to background security staffs and RCMP and in deference to modern times, Kevin did have a pistol and even some ammunition, but all this was safely under lock and key in his office.  He thought it appropriate to retrieve this as Michael entered the building with a Winchester 30-30 firing widely, wounding a security guard and hunting for politicians especially the PM.
     Kevin entered the fray, shot and killed Michael, permitting a return to dignified calm.  Kevin is a retired RCMP veteran of 29 years service during which he never had to shoot anyone.  He was praised and hugged by the PM for preventing what could have been a massacre.   
     Nathan Cirillo, age 25, father of a 6-year-old son, and member of the Argylle and Sutherland Highlanders, was sent off in procession along the 401 Highway of Heroes to his home in Hamilton while a new memorial guard was posted.
     In Canada, the Mace. inherited from the UK, is used by the House of Commons, the Senate, and 21 universities.  In the House of Commons it is carried by the Sergeant-at-Arms who belongs to no political party and who leads the speaker into meetings.  It is a symbol, granted by the crown, of the authority to make and pass laws.
     Like too many residents who never visit local attractions because they are always there and can be visited tomorrow, we never visited Parliament while living in Ottawa, 1953-56, although we walked and drove by it many times.  I did join members of the Ottawa Stamp Club in monthly meetings in rooms not used in the evenings on Parliament Hill.  To gain admission by the night guard only two words, "Stamp Club" were needed.  After moving on to 4 other RCAF locations and then retirement we did return and visited Parliament several times.  As these were in the warmer months we mingled with numerous tourists on the green lawns of Parliament Hill, recognizing politicians as they strolled through, or conversed with, tourists.  It always was, as it should be, open and peaceful. 
      We did see the odd member of the local police or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but no open display of weapons unless you consider a horse a weapon.
     Canada's aversion to guns and meagre coverage by the world's media should not conceal the fact that Canada has punched well above its weight when necessary in world conflicts.  It played a major role in WWI with victories such as Vimy Ridge and its airmen were exceeded only by the Luftwaffe in the number of top aces.  In WWII its forces were the world's fourth largest.  On D-Day its army got the furthest inland and was the only one to achieve its objectives.  Post war its peacekeepers led the world.  It spent 13 years in Afghanistan.  It is highly qualified in peaceful nuclear pursuits but has never built a nuclear weapon.  Unfairly it is considered dull and unnewsworthy.
     Canada has weathered some 56 outside "Terror" attacks including 11 relating to Cuba, 6 to Sikhs and Khalistan, 3 to Armenian-Turkish quarrels, and 6 others going back to 1864 when John Wilkes Booth obtained from Confederate agents in Montreal $184,000 before he assassinated President Lincoln.  There was the 1868 Fenian-associated murder of Thomas D'Arcy McGee, a father of Confederation, the 1965 Croatian bombing of the Yugoslav embassy in Toronto, the 1984 retired US officer killing 3 and wounding 30 in Montreal to protest Pope John Paul's visit.  Then there have been Domestic Terrorism that include 1 each from Anarchist, Anti-Semitic, and Environmental groups, 8 Islamic, 11 Quebec Separatist, 2 Sons of Freedom, and 6 others for unknown reasons.
    So, Canada, do not allow these recent acts of "Terror" upset your calm and quiet behaviour.   Your relatively strict gun controls have limited your homicide rate per 100,000 to 1.6 compared to 4.7 for the USA and 21.5 for Mexico.
     Just two requests for now:  Limit your homegrown violence to hockey and continue to breed people like Kevin Vickers.



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