House of Commons security guards had the rare honour of being invited onto the floor of the chamber this afternoon as part of a special ceremony to pay tribute to their professionalism during Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's attack on Parliament Hill in October.
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MPs cheered the guards as they filed into the Commons — some in their ceremonial dress uniforms, others in the more familiar blue uniforms — with many MPs taking the opportunity to shake their hands as they made their way to the front of the aisle.
Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer thanked the team on behalf of the House as a whole.
"We are all, without question, in their debt," he noted simply.
"Under the leadership of the Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, and Director General Patrick McDonell, the House of Commons Protective Service is a reassuring presence in the Parliament buildings," he said.
"Each and every day, this remarkable team demonstrates its commitment to ensuring the safety of Members, employees, and visitors to the Hill."
Vickers honoured again
Scheer praised the security team for their "quick response" on Oct. 22, which, he added, "most certainly prevented an even more tragic conclusion to the day's events."
Although Vickers stayed at the back of the CHamber during Thursday's tribute, MPs nonetheless gave him another standing ovation — this time, when he entered the Chamber to replace the Mace on the table.
New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair — the only party leader in the House for the ceremony — even managed to intercept Vickers to exchange a brief, but clearly heartfelt handshake along the way.
Samearn Son recognized for 'selfless action'
Const. Samearn Son, who was injured during the attack, was singled out for special recognition.
Scheer noted that Son was wounded "while attempting to disarm the gunman," despite being unarmed himself.
"His selfless action, putting his own body in harm's way, was a stunning example of bravery," Scheer said.
The Speaker also praised the guards for doing their best to help a group of Swiss students who were in the midst of a tour when the attack took place.
"While they were safely ushered to a secure area, their group had been split over two different tours and now found themselves separated and anxious about their classmates and fellow teachers," Scheer recalled.
"Constables were able to account for the full group and provide assurances that everyone was safe," he noted.
"We know we are safer because of you," Scheer told the guards.
"Your actions that day will not be forgotten by anyone in the Parliament Hill community."