So, we have just witnessed an unprecedented attack on the Parliament of Canada. Beginning with the murder of Canadian Reservist Nathan Cirillo on ceremonial guard duty at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a radicalized jihadist convert to Islam raced up the steps beneath the Peace Tower. While we generally do not discuss what happens in caucus, suffice to say the prime minister was addressing the Conservative caucus when the first shot, followed by a rapid succession of shots and shouting, rang out down the corridor beyond the hall. How could an assailant carry on past so many shots? Beyond the momentary panic, we quickly barricaded all doors. We have many former police and military veterans in our caucus; their training and instincts rapidly brought order amplifying the efforts of a valiant member of House of Commons (HoC) security.
Anyone coming through any door would have found a force ready to defend our PM and colleagues. We would later learn that it was body armour that allowed the assailant to flee a hail of bullets but not the timely intervention of the Chief of Hill Security; armed only with his sidearm, Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, ended the threat.
While details of the immense security response and investigation will unfold and be extensively reviewed, at the end of a long day of lock down, we are grateful for the courage, training and professionalism of our HoC Security, the RCMP and the Ottawa City Police who secured the building and got everyone out safely. Volumes of analysis have already been published and no doubt more is on the horizon. Nevertheless, it strikes me that there is a crisis of identity, a breakdown in social norms and order that threatens democratic institutions around the globe. The radicalization of the two home-grown terrorists that killed two of our finest this week, speaks to that vacuum that has been growing with cynical disrespect for our institutions and a radical empowerment of protest everything, challenge and reject all authority.
Tolerance for diversity and freedom of thought and expression are valued hallmarks of democracy. That said, there are all too frequent violent manifestations in our streets, citizens willing to destroy public property, rampage in the streets: after a sporting event, after a rock concert, in the mass of an anti-globalization protest or a rally to protest some domestic policy. These reflect a far more sinister undermining of our cherished freedoms and the rule of law that define our social order.
Think back 20 years: who would imagine that we would witness body parts mailed to the offices of political parties or public figures in Canada? Who would have imagined a storage locker containing six decaying baby remains in a capital city? Who would have imagined the beheading of an innocent passenger on a Greyhound intra-urban bus?
Yes, we are seeing our military off to combat barbarous, heinous acts of rape, pillage, beheadings, convert, flee, or die atrocities; at the same time we are threatened by radicalized home-grown insurgents, but there is a social malignancy that has infected our own society, undermining the sustainability of the great nation we have collectively inherited by birth or adoption. There is an urgent need to rediscover the attributes that made our nation the great success it has been, attributes of faith, service above self, care and compassion for our neighbours and fellow citizens.
We sing in our national anthem: “God keep our land glorious and free,” we sing; “we stand on guard for thee;” but increasingly we have not. Vocal constituencies have agitated to shut God out of public discourse, remove prayer from our schools, to cast off restraint in the name of progress and social liberty. These are modern manifestations of historical patterns of a society in decline. We need to rediscover the God of our fathers, rediscover self-sacrifice through service and plant the seeds of faith in the hearts and minds of a new generation. Might Canada experience a renewal of faith? I hope so. Without it, our social and political institutions are ill-equipped for the challenges we are facing today and those coming over the horizon.
— James Lunney , Conservative, is the MP for the riding of Alberni-Pacific. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.