Exclusive report from someone locked in on the lock-down
Different things impact different readers in different degrees, but after 9/11, there was a newspaper which on its front page story used the headline “When War Came to America.” I’ve tried to find a screenshot of it unsuccessfully, but I was reminded of it yesterday when the shootings in and nearby Canada’s Parliament Hill combined with events that took place earlier in Quebec this week which would seem to lend credence to the idea that war has indeed come to Canada.
Unlike Spain or England or the US, Canada has so far escaped the terrorism associated with fringe militant groups based in the middle east. Perhaps that has changed or is about to change. As CBC newscaster Peter Mansbridge said yesterday, “While there have been incidents, you have to go back [to 1970]… to see a situation where there have been lock-downs… this is a story unprecedented [in Canada] in recent times.” On Wednesday, that certainly changed.
As a friend emailed, it was just a matter of time until U.S.-style news headlines reached Canada; until our news reports started to look like that those of our neighbors to the south.
As the day wore on I contacted another friend, Lorne Anderson, only to find that he was locked down as we corresponded. We asked him for his perspective and his response at suppertime last night reminds us of the priorities you face when you find yourself in the middle of such a situation.
I am writing this from behind locked doors in an office in the Parliament Hill precinct. More than six hours ago a gunman killed a soldier at the National War Memorial; then he or someone else broke into the Hall of Honour in Parliament Hill’s Centre Block where he was killed just metres away from the rooms where the Government and Opposition MPs were holding their weekly caucus meeting.
At this point we don’t know anything about the gunmen, how many there were, what motivated their attack. We don’t even know when they will unlock the doors and let us out – police are concerned there may be more shooters out there.
What we do know is that this will change security procedures on Parliament Hill, and our open seat of government is likely to be a lot less open to the public in the future, and that is a shame.
I suspect that for many Members of Parliament this incident, no matter what the cause is eventually determined to be, will bring about a time of personal reflection on their own mortality. I have seen the video clips on television. Only a door separated our political leaders from the gunman. There is no doubt the death toll could have been much higher, that a much greater tragedy (numerically) was narrowly averted.
I would think that such a close call would lead to a certain amount of introspection, a questioning of priorities on those who were in the rooms on either side of that hall. When you start asking “what if” you need to take it to the logical conclusion. “What if I had been shot?” What if I had died? What would happen to me then?”
The Christians in the room already know the answer to those questions. I hope the other MPs take the time to find out, because you really never do know when you will be facing your own mortality, which makes it always a good idea to know what you are going to say when you meet your maker.