10/23/2014 09:03 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Ottawa Pushes For Business As Usual After Shootings

GEOFF ROBINS via Getty Images

By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged more surveillance and detention powers for security forces in Canada on Thursday after a gunman killed a soldier and rampaged through parliament before being shot dead.

Addressing the House of Commons just meters away from where the gunman, a reported convert to Islam, was shot dead on Wednesday, Harper said lawmakers would expedite new powers to counter the threat of radicals.

"The objective of these attacks was to instill fear and panic in our country," Harper said. "Canadians will not be intimidated. We will be vigilant, but we will not run scared. We will be prudent but we will not panic."

Harper pledged to speed up a plan already under way to bolster Canadian laws and police powers in the areas of "surveillance, detention and arrest."

A RCMP officer looks at floral tributes to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in Ottawa, Oct. 23, 2014. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The killing of the Canadian soldier was the second this week with a possible link to Islamist militants. A convert to Islam on Monday ran over two Canadian soldiers with his car, killing one, near Montreal, before being shot dead by police.

The attacks in Ottawa and Quebec took place as the Canadian government prepared to boost the powers of its spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney said last week the new legislation would let the agency track and investigate potential terrorists when they travel abroad and ultimately prosecute them.

Flowers are placed on the barrier near the War Memorial in the aftermath of the shooting in Ottawa, Oct. 23, 2014. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
While parliament resumed, tensions in Canada's capital remained high.

Police arrested a man at gunpoint just steps from the prime minister as Harper and his wife were laying a wreath at the National War Memorial to commemorate the killing of the soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24.

Police, shouting and with guns drawn, surrounded a man and ordered him to the ground. Ottawa Police said the man was arrested for "disturbing the crime scene" at the war memorial. The man's intent was not immediately clear.

"He crossed the tape. We told him not to. He didn't listen," said a police officer at the scene.

Harper himself was pulled back from the crime scene after he and his wife briefly lifted the crime scene tape and attempted to lay flowers, and then reversed themselves and laid their wreath outside the crime scene.

The tense moment was captured on camera and seen by throngs of people and politicians who had gathered at the war memorial.

Police said on Thursday they were satisfied that only one person was involved in the attack.

Canadian police were investigating a man named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau as the possible suspect, said a source familiar with the matter. U.S. officials said they had been advised he was also a convert to Islam.

The attacks on soldiers in Ottawa and near Montreal took place after Canada announced this month it would send six jets to take part in air strikes against Islamic State fighters who have taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.

Defense Minister Rob Nicholson said Canada's deployment to Iraq would go on unimpeded.

(Additional reporting by Leah Schnurr in Ottawa, Euan Rocha in Toronto and Julie Gordon in Vancouver; Editing by Robert Birsel, Nick Zieminski and Howard Goller)



Ottawa Shooting