Montreal increases security following Ottawa Parliament shootings

CBC Montreal obtained a copy of an email directed to student soldiers with the Canadian Armed Forces telling them not to wear their uniforms, even on base.

Security tightened at Montreal City Hall, National Assembly and other government, military buildings

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Montreal Police Chief Marc Parent say more "vulnerable places" around the city will have a higher police presence. (CBC)

The city of Montreal has increased security and police presence following shooting attacks at Ottawa's War Memorial and Parliament on Wednesday morning that left two people dead, including a soldier and a gunman.

“We have a duty to protect democracy. We have duty to protect our citizens...Somebody tried to put democracy at stake today, attacking a symbol. We won't let that happen," said Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.

Coderre said citizens’ safety is a priority.

'Somebody tried to put democracy at stake today...We won't let that happen.- Denis Codere, Montreal Mayor'

“My role as mayor is to keep things in order. Security won't be a problem," Coderre said Wednesday afternoon at a news conference he held with the Montreal Police Chief Marc Parent by his side.

“We are increasing security levels of many places that are strategically more vulnerable,” Parent said.

Neither Parent nor Coderre gave specifics about where security would be heightened, citing safety reasons. Coderre said the increased police presence is a “preventative” move.

Security was heightened at Montreal City Hall after the shootings in Ottawa. (Benoit Chapdelaine/Radio-Canada)
Earlier in the day, about a dozen police cars surrounded City Hall, with all but one entrance locked, and the building was closed to visitors.

Russell Copeman, borough mayor for Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace, told reporters in front of City Hall it was business as usual for those working inside. 

"Everything is calm. We're going about our business. That's what we do and that's what we'll continue to do."

Quebec provincial police arrived at the National Assembly between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. following shootings at Ottawa's Parliament and War Memorial. (Marie Verville/CBC)

He said it was a sad day for Canada, regardless of what the circumstances are surrounding the attacks. 

"It's a sad day for the country, the capital. I think it's too early to jump to conclusions. We have to let people do their jobs but clearly when something like this happens it affects all of us, regardless of whether one holds public office or works on Parliament Hill… It's a very sad day," Copeman said.

Tighter security across Quebec

Security measures were also tightened at municipal, provincial and military buildings elsewhere in Quebec.

At Quebec's National Assembly, security was doubled at entrances and exits and visitors were barred from entering the building and the library.

Foot traffic in the tunnels and outside the building was also restricted. 

Helicopters circled the National Assembly in Quebec City and a team of Sûreté du Québec officers arrived shortly after 11 a.m. 

Quebec military personnel told not to wear uniforms in public

CBC Montreal obtained a copy of an email directed to student soldiers with the Canadian Armed Forces telling them not to wear their uniforms, even on base.

Captain Marie-France Poulin, public affairs officer for CFB Valcartier, explains the security measures brought in at the base and in general by the Canadian Armed Forces. (Julia Page/CBC)
An email sent to military personnel authorized the wearing of uniforms on base, as well as inside their cars while travelling between the base and their homes. However it instructed them to avoid wearing their uniforms in all other cases.

That email also instructed military personnel in uniform to not make any stops — not even at gas stations, daycares, schools and elsewhere — while travelling between the base and home.

Captain Marie-France Poulin, the public affairs officer at CFB Valcartier, confirmed that military personnel were ordered not to wear their uniform in public places, unless on official duty.  

Poulin said Valcartier has also tightened security measures at the entrance of the base. A military police unit that normally patrols the base will be stationed at the gates for the time being. 

Poulin said she received no indication that the base would be locked down.

Provincial party leaders respond

At the National Assembly, Question Period proceeded as scheduled. 

Premier Philippe Couillard said it was too early to make any kind of statement on the events in Ottawa.

Couillard said Quebecers should exercise extreme caution in connecting the attack on Parliament to Monday's attack on two soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault said he didn't know enough about the situation yet to comment.

"All we can do is hope the number of injuries is minimal," he said from inside the legislature at Quebec's National Assembly.

Québec Solidaire leader Françoise David said she has many friends on Parliament Hill and was very concerned about them.

MPs smelled gun smoke, ushered from building

Marc Garneau, Member of Parliament for WestmountVille-Marie, told CBC News he was in the Centre Bloc at Parliament in Ottawa.

He said he could smell gun smoke inside the building, but did not hear the gunshots.

Garneau, along with all the other MPs, were ushered out of the building by police.

“People are trying to figure out what the heck happened,” he said.