Last month turned out to be one of the saddest months I’ve ever experienced bringing within two days two attacks on Canadian Forces members as well as an attack on Parliament. The deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo are particularly shocking as they occurred on Canadian soil at the hands of Canadians. While the shootings at the National War Memorial and in the House of Commons have highly symbolic reverberations, the deliberate running down of a Canadian Forces member in uniform should be no less a concern even if in a less prominent location. As time passes we will eventually get a fuller picture of both these incidents and only then can we figure out how best to respond. In the interim, MPs from all parties felt it was symbolically important to return to normal routine as soon as possible in order to show that we will not let violence destroy our democracy or the values we hold dear.
So the next day, the House of Commons went back to work. As our leader, Thomas Mulcair said, “We woke up this morning in a country blessed by love, diversity and peace and tomorrow we will do the same.” I believe wholeheartedly we must show that violence will not succeed in shutting down democracy or in destroying our free and open society. As we go forward we must not let fear define or restrict our options and we must make sure that the government takes up both its responsibility to protect public safety and its responsibility to protect civil liberties. And we must also guard against letting these incidents divide Canadians from one another and make sure that the destructive acts of individuals are not falsely ascribed to the community they may have come from. These are indeed times which will test us as a nation.
Thank you for all of the many kind messages of concern I have received in the aftermath of these events. My personal thanks go also to House of Commons security staff who stood in harm’s way to protect us and got NDP MPs quickly to a secure place, protection which obviously neither of the Canadian Forces members enjoyed. So it is with a heavy heart that I look forward to Remembrance Day this November as we still mourn this loss of Canadian soldiers on our own soil. I hope there will be a large turnout from all parts of our community on November 11th at events across the region.
Lest we forget,
MP Randall Garrison,
Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca