Canada and New Zealand have a lot in common.
Both were largely settled by similar people, both are still part of the Commonwealth, both tend to be overshadowed by a bigger neighbour and until recently neither would have been regarded as having a high risk of terrorism.
That changed yesterday when a soldier in Ottawa was shot dead in cold blood:
The stone halls of Parliament Hill echoed with gunfire and were stained with blood Wednesday as a terrorist struck at the heart of the federal government after gunning down a sentry at the National War Memorial.
The gunman was shot and killed near the Library of Parliament, according to Ottawa police sources, by House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, a former RCMP officer and the man responsible for security on the Hill.
A witness said the gunman, carrying the rifle at his hip, walked deliberately up the west ramp of Centre Block and through the main doors of Parliament as bystanders cowered. It was just before 10 a.m.
The gunman walked right past the Centre Block’s Reading Room — where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was meeting with the Conservative caucus — before being confronted and shot.
The dead gunman has been identified as Canadian-born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, a man who had lived in Aylmer, Montreal and Vancouver, and had a criminal record for relatively minor offences in all cities. . .
In a televised address to the nation Wednesday night, Prime Minister Stephen Harper labelled the incidents “despicable attacks” and linked them to international terrorism. “In the days to come, we will learn more about the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had,” Harper said. “But 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.”
He vowed that the nation will not be intimidated, nor will it back down from its commitment to wage war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“Canada will never be intimidated,” he repeated. “In fact, this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts.” . . .
Parliamentary Services have closed all but two doors into our parliament as a precautionary measure:
. . . New Zealand’s Parliamentary Service has confirmed only two entrances will be open for MPs, staff and the general public, and they will be heavily monitored.
The main door to the Beehive, where people must pass through a security screen, and the entry to Bowen House from Lambton Quay will remain open.
Parliamentary Service general manager, David Stevenson said the decision to close all other entry points was made to keep staff and the public safe.
“This is an interim security measure we have decided to put in place to manage the safety and security of members, staff, officials and the general public who visit Parliament on a daily basis,” he said.
Stevenson said the access restriction might cause inconvenience and potentially longer processing times, particularly for the public given Parliament was in a sitting week. . .
This will be inconvenient for the people who regularly enter and leave parliament, including media, but it’s not an over0reaction.
The risk of a terror attack here might not be high, but it could happen anywhere and we have to have a balance between precautions to protect people and freedom of movement.