OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada will not be intimidated by the “despicable” attacks that have taken the lives of two soldiers this week.
In a nationally televised address from an unknown location, Harper said the government will “take all necessary steps” to tighten security measures to counter “terrorist” acts in Canada.
“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,” a solemn-looking Harper said.
He spoke about 10 hours after Cpl. Nathan Frank Cirillo was shot and killed at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
The shooter then went to nearby Parliament Hill, where he was killed in a furious exchange of gunfire with security officials. News reports identified the dead shooter as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian born in 1982. However, Ottawa police declined to confirm the name of the assailant.
The attack came two days after a Canadian soldier was killed in Quebec in a hit-and-run by an assailant who recently embraced jihadist thinking.
Harper said such actions are an attack “on our country” and on Canadians’ democratic values. But “we will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated,” the Prime Minister said.
“In the days to come, we will learn more about the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had,” Harper said of Zehaf-Bibeau.
The prime minister also said Canada will join with its allies to fight terrorism around the world. In a reference to the Islamic State jihadists who have taken over large tracts of land in Iraq and Syria, Harper said Canada will step up efforts to work with “our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores.”
Such groups will have “no safe haven,” Harper said. The federal government is sending fighter jets and support personnel to the Middle East to join with the United States and other countries in the fight against Islamic State.
His thoughts and prayers were with the family and friends of Cpl. Cirillo, who was murdered “in cold blood” at the National War Memorial that honours those who fought and died to protect Canadian democracy, Harper said.
Harper, who said it had been a “difficult” day, spoke from an unknown location because of continuing security concerns Wednesday night in Ottawa.
The NDP’s Thomas Mulcair, the official Opposition leader, said “the peace of our nation’s capital was shattered by an attack of hatred and brutality” that was designed “to strike at the heart of our democracy.”
Speaking on national television after Harper addressed Canadians, Mulcair said the violent challenge to Canadian democracy has failed.
“Today’s events have instead only succeeded in drawing us closer and making us stronger,” said Mulcair, who praised the courage of the police, security services and the military.
“Canada is shaken today but we shall not waver,” he said. “We still stand up and we will stand together.”