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Legislatures across Canada tighten security after shooting on Parliament Hill

Centre Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa is surrounded by police vehicles on on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. A gunman opened fire at the National War Memorial, wounding a soldier, then moved to nearby Parliament Hill and wounded a security guard before he was shot, reportedly by Parliament's sergeant-at-arms.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
October 22, 2014 - 1:23 PM

TORONTO - Security was beefed up Wednesday at government buildings across Canada following an attack on Parliament Hill, with at least one provincial legislature closing for the day and several others limiting public access.

A soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa was killed by a gunman who then moved up the street to launch an attack on Parliament's Centre Block, where two people were wounded. The assailant was shot dead by the sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons.

The National Assembly in Quebec City, the site of a 1984 attack by a gunman that left three dead, was quickly closed to the public, while movement was limited in and around government buildings.

Premier Philippe Couillard urged caution in establishing links between the Ottawa shooting and Monday's incident in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., where a man with jihadist sympathies struck two soldiers with his car, killing one of them.

The New Brunswick legislature in Fredericton also closed for the day, while the Nova Scotia legislature in Halifax and the British Columbia legislature in Victoria tightened security to allow in only people with security passes.

Craig James, the clerk of the B.C. legislature, said security personnel were stationed at every entrance to the building, but the legislature was not in a full lockdown.

Ontario's political leaders considered suspending question period Wednesday but decided that would send the wrong signal after the director of security services said there was "no known threat" to the legislature in downtown Toronto.

"Our belief is that people who are using violence to undermine democracy want us to be silenced, and we refuse to be silenced," Premier Kathleen Wynne told the legislature, earning a standing ovation and praise from the opposition parties.

"Our resolve was tested today but by us being here premier we have passed, so thank you for carrying on," Progressive Conservative Vic Fedeli said.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced security would be beefed up for Wednesday's Throne Speech kicking off the fall session of the legislature, and only those with invitations would be allowed in while the general public would be barred.

Out of concern for the large presence of military personnel and international diplomats expected to attend the event in Regina, the outdoor ceremony was also being moved indoors, added Wall.

Security was also heightened at the Manitoba legislature, where police cruisers were stationed outside.

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice said the government was monitoring the events in Ottawa but would not talk about security issues at the legislature.

"We have robust security that includes armed Sheriffs, security instruments and protocols with the Edmonton Police service," Prentice said in a statement. "No further details will be disclosed for security reasons."

The Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly in St. Johns was not sitting Wednesday.

Some members of Ontario's parliament said it was time to consider arming security staff at the legislature, but the government said it would leave those decisions to the security experts.

"I'm surprised it gets rejected every time it comes up," said interim Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Wilson. "Out of hand it gets rejected."

Wilson said he's been raising the issue of arming security staff at Queen's Park since the deadly 1984 shooting at the National Assembly, but government officials said only that there are constant reviews of security at the Ontario legislature.

"We are always looking at enhancing our security when we can, where we can," said sergeant-at-arms Dennis Clark, the only one who's armed in the legislature. "I have a sword."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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