For the past week we Canadians have ridden an unwelcome emotional roller coaster. The deliberate hit and run killing of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in Quebec, an unarmed Corporal Nathan Cirillo gunned down while standing guard at the World War I War Memorial in Ottawa and deadly gunfire in the hallowed halls of our sacred Parliament Buildings, have shaken a nation. We are a country generally unused to such naked violence. Extreme security measures in our national capital are virtually non existent; our Houses of Parliament have never been an armed camp, distant from its citizens. Rather, the general public are welcomed, even encouraged, to attend Question Period and to tour Canada's seat of democracy.
Make no mistake, though, Canada has proven that its fuzzy, warm, "nice" exterior is like a soft glove covering an iron fist. Don't mess with us. Our troops have more than proven their mettle, Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach, being fine examples. We will not be intimidated wrote the Calgary Sun.
Tough talk aside, it has been the remarkable actions of solidarity by Canadian citizens that, for me, have defined the strength and heart of my Canada and brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes.
Gunfire, a targeted downed soldier and panicked fleeing onlookers! Margaret Lerhe, a nurse on her way to work, began to run, not towards her own safety, but into the dangerous chaos and towards Corporal Cirillo. She was the first to administer CPR.
I would love to hug the young cadet in Port Coquitlam, B.C., who daily has, of his own volition, stood guard at his city's cenotaph in memory of Nathan Cirillo.
And to our veterans, who right across our glorious nation, have held vigils for Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo, I say thank you. Lest we forget.
As Corporal Nathan Cirillo's body was moved along the Highway of Heroes from Ottawa to his hometown of Hamilton, veterans, emergency workers and young people alike flocked to the highway bridges and streets along his route. No special invitation was provided; "they" just came to honour their fallen soldier. Canadian flags, crisp salutes and somber hands on hearts said it all.
And then there was Ontario's Premier, Kathleen Wynn. With our federal government and much of Ottawa in lockdown, Ms Wynn rose to address the Ontario Legislature. Our belief is that people who are using violence to undermine democracy want us to be silenced, and we refuse to be silenced. Greeted with a standing ovation from all political parties, she then proceeded with the normal question period. God bless you, Kathleen Wynn!
Horrific circumstances and a nation showing remarkable solidarity. I agree, Christopher. Never have I been prouder to be a Canadian than right now. O Canada, how I love thee!