Ottawa shooting: MPs vow to carry on after gunman storms Hill

Members of Parliament vowed to "persevere" and "prevail" Thursday as they honoured Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, the day after a gunman shot Cirillo to death before being killed himself.

Prime minister meets with cabinet, briefed by national security adviser, RCMP and CSIS heads

Security concerns

9 years ago
Duration 2:48
Are there weaknesses in Parliament Hill security? Susan Ormiston reports

Members of Parliament vowed to "persevere" and "prevail" Thursday as they honoured Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, the day after a gunman shot Cirillo to death before being killed himself.

Cirillo was shot and killed while standing guard at the National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Wednesday, just before 10 a.m. ET.

Vickers was one of the security officials on Parliament Hill who shot the gunman. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau died of gunshot wounds.

NDP MP Nathan Cullen (left) looks on as Sergeant-at-Arms for the House of Commons Kevin Vickers reacts to a long standing ovation on Parliament Hill Oct. 23, 2014 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with his full cabinet Thursday morning to discuss the previous day's attack, his spokesman said in a statement.

"The prime minister and cabinet were briefed by the national security adviser [Stephen Rigby], the commissioner of the RCMP [Bob Paulson], and the director of CSIS [Michel Coulombe] on the shooting yesterday and the security situation in Canada," Jason MacDonald wrote.

As MPs returned to the House after spending the previous day being locked down, they gave Vickers an extended standing ovation for his bravery.

Vickers who stood stoically in his place at the back of the chamber, nodding solemnly before his face softened with the emotion of the extended applause.

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In his speech, Harper emphasized continuing the business of government, including coming legislation to strengthen police surveillance, detention and arrest powers.

"Here we are, in our seats, in our chamber in the very heart of our democracy and our work goes on​," he said.

'We'll stand together'

Harper went on to thank Vickers and walked to the back of the chamber to shake his hand, then strode to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to shake his hand, and back to the middle to hug NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife, Laureen, walk up to the perimeter of the crime scene at the National War Memorial to lay flowers in Ottawa on Thursday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
Mulcair said Canadians will "stand up and we'll stand together."

"We'll preserve, we'll persevere. We'll prevail. Because that's what Canadians have always done together. That's what we do best together," he said.

Trudeau called on Canadians not to let threats define them.

"They do not get to change us," he said.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said MPs on Wednesday "experienced the real terror that comes from thinking someone with a gun is on the other side of a door and you are at risk," referring to the MPs as a family.

"At a very basic level, we are nothing more than human beings who at a very fundamental level care for each other," she said.

"My colleagues must know how much I care for all of them and love them. And this is something our constituents need to know," she added as the others rose in a standing ovation.

May drew a thumbs-up from Vickers as she paid tribute to the New Brunswicker.

"I know that the finest thing that we could do for him right now would be to let him leave this place and go fly-fishing on the Miramichi."

Damage from bullets remains

The Hall of Honour, the central hall in Parliament Hill's main building, showed some signs of the shooting, with chips missing from the stone walls where bullets hit. Crews were in the building overnight working to patch some of the holes, one source told CBC News.

​MPs met at the National War Memorial before parliamentary business resumed a day after the shooting.

The MPs gathered close to the memorial and sang O Canada before hugging and wiping away tears.

Harper and his wife, Laureen, arrived at the heavily guarded memorial to lay a wreath. The memorial is still closed off to the public by yellow police tape.

There was a commotion across the street in front of a popular pub, where a man crossed the yellow barrier when Harper was at the memorial. Police had their guns drawn, but didn't fire any shots, and arrested the man. 

'Let's get back to work'

On the other side of the barricades lining the square, MPs from all parties exchanged hugs and stories from the lockdown.

Flags fly at half-mast on Parliament Hill and on the Peace Tower in Ottawa on Thursday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

New Democrat MP Mike Sullivan passed out tiny Canadian flag ‎pins.

"Do you have enough?" wondered Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, who was also on the scene.

Parliament's dominion carillonneur devoted her daily noon hour recital to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. Andrea McCrady's playlist for the Peace Tower bells included:

  • O Canada
  • In Memoriam, by John Courter (composed following Sept. 11 attacks). 
  • The Campbells Are Coming (regimental march of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, Cirillo's regiment). 
  • Amazing Grace, arranged by Leen 't Hart.

NDP MP Charlie Angus carried ‎flowers he hoped to lay on the memorial, but made sure to give his staffer full credit for the idea.

In the end, it was unclear which MP kicked off the impromptu O Canada singing, but the rest were quick to join in. When the last strains of the last line faded, it was ‎Angus who summed it up. 

"Let's get back to work," he said.

The flag on Parliament Hill, as well as all other federal buildings, is being flown at half-mast "to commemorate the tragic events that occurred in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, on Oct. 20, 2014, and Ottawa, Ontario, on Oct. 22, 2014," according to the Canadian Heritage website, referring to the death of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent after he was run down in a parking lot attack.

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