Ottawa shooting: Military considering heightened security at bases

Canadian Forces officials are assessing whether heightened security is necessary at bases across the country after a shooting on Parliament Hill Wednesday left an Ontario reservist dead.

'We will carry on all our missions at home and abroad in a steadfast, resolute and vigilant manner'

Emergency Task Force officers stand outside the Queen's Park Legislature as security is tightened in Toronto on Wednesday following deadly shootings in Ottawa. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Canadian Forces officials are assessing whether heightened security is necessary at bases across the country after a shooting on Parliament Hill Wednesday left an Ontario reservist dead.

“While the incident is under investigation, we will continue to collaborate with our government of Canada partners to assess the current security environment and are evaluating the need for additional security measures at Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) installations,” said Gen. Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, in a statement. 

Lawson added that the attack will not compromise any ongoing Canadian military efforts.

“We will carry on all our missions at home and abroad in a steadfast, resolute and vigilant manner, and serve our nation and her people.”

Following the attack, most military institutions reported increased security protocols, but none had reported any specific known threats outside Ottawa. Some Canadian Forces bases were locked down in response to the shooting, however, while most were monitoring the situation.

The Department of National Defence said earlier that all armouries were secured, but access to the public is being restricted. 

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, the 24-year-old reservist who was shot and killed in the Ottawa attack, is from Hamilton, Ont. Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina said the city was on “heightened alert” Wednesday, but there was no reason to think Hamiltonians are in danger.

Our men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces will continue to stand on guard, vigilant in their duty to protect Canada and Canadians,- Minister of National Defence Rob Nicholson

“We have no information from any level of any imminent or related incidents in the city of Hamilton,” he said.

Defence officials gave few other details Wednesday. Defence Minister Rob Nicholson offered condolences to the victim’s family and condemned the attack in a statement released Wednesday night. 

"This is a shocking and tragic event which reminds us of the real threats posed by those who would do us all harm in the name of radical ideas, beliefs and motives," he said..

Nicholson added that the deployment of Canadians who are currently supporting security forces in Iraq "will continue unimpeded."

Some soldiers asked to stop wearing uniform

In Quebec, military personnel were asked to stop wearing their uniforms outside bases, except for operational reasons. Military personnel in uniform are being asked not to make any stops — not even at gas stations, daycares, schools and elsewhere — while travelling between their base and home.

Also in Quebec, the National Assembly and Montreal City Hall increased their security measures.

The Royal Canadian Legion in Windsor told CBC News that the shooting has them rethinking the security of poppy sellers this remembrance season.
Police stand outside Queen's Park in Toronto on Wednesday, after a shooting in Ottawa has led to a heightened state of security. (CBC)

Calgary police chief Rick Hanson said the biggest concern after the attack is that there could be more individuals who engage in copycat activities.

He says law enforcement officials are aware of some individuals who may be a risk to national security, but it would be foolish to assume they are aware of everyone.

Security at the Alberta Legislature was at normal levels on Wednesday following the shootings in Ottawa, but tours were cancelled for the day.

Airports reported that flights were continuing as usual, but that the situation was being monitored closely.

A spokesperson for the Customs and Immigration Union said the union is seeking more information about the shooting and waiting to hear from the Canada Border Services Agency about any heightened security measures at the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, both of which connect Windsor, Ont., to Detroit.
Grade 5 children from Vancouver's St. Francis Xavier School were turned away from their planned visit to the B.C. legislature following the shooting incidents on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. In the wake of the shooting, the Winnipeg School Division is sending information home with students to help them deal with any shock or confusion they may feel over the incident. (Dirk Meissner/Canadian Press)

"During times of heightened security, travellers may experience an increase in border wait times or increased scrutiny. The CBSA thanks travellers for their cooperation," the agency said in a statement.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it was closely monitoring developments and had increased security at several crossings between New York State and Ontario.

"CBP is taking a proactive approach to increase our enforcement posture at the area ports of Alexandria Bay, Ogdensburg and Massena until the situation is resolved," Chief CBP Officer Ken Hammond, Sr. said.

In New Brunswick, the legislature in Fredericton is closed to the public. 

The Nova Scotia Legislature was locked down, but daily proceedings continue. In Halifax, families were on edge after hearing news of the shooting, expressing concern about their loved ones in uniform. 

In Toronto, police provided extra security at the Ontario Legislature

"Out of precaution for the ongoing situation in Ottawa, Toronto Police Service is exercising diligence in offering additional resources" at Queen's Park, police said in a statement. 

Security procedures are being enhanced at Union Station in Toronto, Toronto City Hall and other city facilities. Toronto police are on site at Union Station and at city hall.
Security was heightened at Montreal City Hall after the shootings in Ottawa. (Benoit Chapdelaine/Radio-Canada)

"The deputy mayor has worked closely with city manager Joe Pennachetti and Chief of Police Bill Blair throughout the day to ensure that all security measures and protocols are being followed. It is important to be vigilant and any unusual activity should be immediately reported to the Toronto Police Service," Toronto Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said.

Toronto police Chief Bill Blair addressed the media on precautions being taken by the Toronto Police Service.

"There is no threat in Toronto at this time," Blair said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon, but went on to say that "all hands are on deck." 

Toronto police are enhancing security measures at various public institutions and public spaces, including the subway. 

Basketball fans were warned to allow extra time to get into the Raptors pre-season game at the Air Canada Centre Wednesday night, as the Toronto arena will have extra security measures in place. 

Harper's events cancelled

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's events were cancelled in Toronto Wednesday. Harper had been scheduled to attend a ceremony to bestow honorary Canadian citizenship to Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani teenager and co-winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Harper is scheduled to speak to the country regarding the shootings Wednesday night. 

Security has been heightened at the Saskatchewan Legislature. Premier Brad Wall said dogs will sweep the building and any outdoor ceremonies will be moved indoors. The speech from the throne was read Wednesday afternoon, the government said every consideration is being given to the safety of the hundreds of guests attending.

Saskatoon officials reassured residents that the city had security measures in place, particularly for staff and residents visiting city hall.

All NDP MP constituency offices across the country closed Wednesday in accordance with security directives from Ottawa.

In the Kitchener-Waterloo region in Ontario, Guelph MPs reported they are safe after the shootings.

Extra security measures were put in place in B.C. Wednesday. In Victoria, no tourists or members of the public were being permitted to enter the B.C. Legislature, which has stationed extra guards at each entrance.

B.C. alerted to threat earlier this week

Members of the B.C. Legislature were contacted about concerns from Ottawa over a security threat earlier this week.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, House Clerk Craig James would not divulge in detail the non-specific threat, but told reporters "steps were taken."
Captain Marie-France Poulin, public affairs officer for CFB Valcartier in Quebec, explains the security measures brought in at the base and in general by the Canadian Armed Forces. (Julia Page/CBC)

At the same press conference, Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz said there was no specific threat to the legislature as of Wednesday morning.

A Prince Edward Island senator and MPs were among hundreds locked down on Parliament Hill, but all P.E.I. federal representatives have been accounted for. Captain Bronwyn Ives, the Commanding Officer of the Stratford Army Cadets in P.E.I., said all cadet training programs across the island and Atlantic Canada were cancelled Wednesday as a precautionary measure. 

Most government buildings in Newfoundland and Labrador — including CFB 5 Wing Goose Bay — remained open Wednesday.

There were no changes to a NORAD exercise scheduled in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, according to spokesperson Alexandre Cadieux.

The main gate at CFB 17 Wing in Winnipeg was blocked Wednesday and a public goodbye for soldiers scheduled to leave Winnipeg for Iraq on Wednesday to help with Operation Impact was cancelled.

The attack on Parliament Hill had Winnipeggers reflecting on its effects as they went to the polls for the city's municipal election, on a day that some were saying threatened Canada's democracy.

Extra security was reported at the Canadian Consulate in New York City.

The game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, scheduled for Wednesday night at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, was postponed, the National Hockey League announced. The date and time of the rescheduled game will be announced at a later date.

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