Canada's PM Stephen Harper Comments On Ottawa Shooting: "Canada Won't Be Intimidated"
On Wednesday afternoon, the unthinkable happened: a gunman stormed into Canada's Parliament buildings and opened fire. Hours later, with the world still reeling, Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded to the Ottawa shooting with an important message for those both inside the country and out: "Canada will never be intimidated."
Four people were injured and one man died Wednesday, after a shooter — identified as 32-year-old Canadian Michael Zehaf-Bibeau — attacked the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa. According to the Huffington Post, Zehaf-Bibeau, wearing black clothes and a scarf over his face, shot one of the Memorial's guards several times at point-blank range before raising his hands "in triumph." He then stormed into the Center Block of Parliament and exchanged fire with police officers, where he was eventually shot dead by police.
There's a lot that remains unanswered about the tragic incident. We don't know whether Zehaf-Bibeau was working alone, or if there was someone else involved. If the latter, we don't know who or where the other attacker might be. Most importantly, in spite of widespread speculation regarding Zehaf-Bibeau's alleged links to ISIS — based mainly on reports that he was a recent convert to Islam, as well as one photograph of him allegedly Tweeted from a now-suspended ISIS account — nothing has been officially confirmed. So we don't even really know why he did it.
What we do know is that this is the second time in the last week alone that Canada has seen terrorist-scented violence. Just last Monday, a man whom Harper described as an "ISIL-inspired terrorist" killed one soldier and injured another when he ran them over in a parking lot in Quebec. The man, another reported convert to Islam, died after being shot by police officers.
In a televised address late Wednesday, Harper addressed both tragedies, promising to up the country's national security measures but promising that Canada would not be cowed by the attacks. Instead, he said, the attacks would just strengthen the country's determination to fight the threat of terrorism. Said he:
For the second time this week, there has been a brutal and violent act on our soil ... In the days to come we will learn more about the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had ... This will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats.
This week's events are a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world. But let there be no misunderstanding, we will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated.
And they're standing by that — Canada's Parliament will be back in session as of 10 a.m. this morning.