Queen's Park security on 'high alert'
Toronto Police Emergency Task Force outside Queen's Park in Toronto Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014 after gunfire erupted on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. School tours continued in the legislature. (Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun)
Ontario MPPs refuse to be silenced after the shooting on Parliament Hill, Premier Kathleen Wynne says.
The Ontario legislature continued its work at Queen’s Park Wednesday even as shots rang out in Ottawa.
“Our belief is that people who are using violence to undermine democracy want us to be silenced,” Wynne said. “And we refuse to be silenced.”
The premier said it’s important to remain careful and vigilant, and authorities are very aware of the situation.
“But we will carry on with the business of this house and the business of our democratic society,” she said.
PC MPP Vic Fedeli, who led off question period for the opposition, said that their resolve was being tested but not defeated.
“This is an attack on our democracy,” Fedeli said in a tweet.
Ontario sergeant-at-arms Dennis Clark said he was not aware of a threat to the provincial legislature.
“In light of the situation unfolding in Ottawa, we just have heightened security around here,” he said. “We enhance our patrols ... Toronto Police is here.”
A police Emergency Task Force vehicle with heavily armed officers was spotted on the grounds.
MPPs received an emergency safety briefing after question period.
PC MPP Lisa MacLeod, who represents the riding of Nepean-Carleton, said she can hardly believe such an attack happened in her hometown of Ottawa.
MacLeod’s nine-year-old daughter was in a school lockdown, she said.
“My family is safe. I’m not the only one who has family in lockdown in the legislature. I’ve spoken with other members who are quite concerned,” MacLeod said. “We are under attack.”
I am shocked with what is happening at home today. I hope all Ottawans are safe.— Lisa MacLeod (@MacLeodLisa) October 22, 2014
She said she was very proud of police officers, first responders and members of the military who responded to the Ottawa shootings, and also of her fellow MPPs of all political stripes as they pushed forward with the business of democracy.
“I’m not afraid to be standing here. I’m very proud actually that we can continue on defiantly against what appears to be an act of terrorism,” she said.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she also stood with Wynne and others in their determination to continue working.
While security should always be reviewed at Queen’s Park, it’s important to strike the right balance to ensure that the building remains open and accessible to the public, she said.
“I have never, ever had a worry about the security of the people in this building,” Horwath said.
Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur’s first response when asked by reporters about the incident was one word: “Unbelievable.” Meilleur, of the riding of Ottawa-Vanier, said she will leave the question of whether there should be armed security at Queen’s Park to the experts.
Ontario Speaker Dave Levac said security is on “high alert” and Toronto Police are assisting but Queen’s Park is a place for openness and democracy.
“I think the premier captured the essence of what the house felt,” Levac said. “The entire house stood and applauded the statement and I believe that we all stand by it.”
PC Interim Leader Jim Wilson said he has long believed that the special constables responsible for security at Queen’s Park should be armed.
“I would think they would want to be armed themselves,” Wilson said. “What are you going to do if somebody with a shotgun like what happened on Parliament Hill runs up the front steps here? What’s the poor guard going to do?”
Levac said he is not considering arming the special constables at this time.
“I don’t think anyone is prepared to withstand an armed assault other than to say that all of the security measures that we put in place are designed such as this is a free place, this is a place for democracy and it’ll continue in that manner.”
Clark said the legislature has a “seamless” security system in concert with Toronto Police.
“I’ve got a sword,” Clark said, when asked if he was armed.