Three years after Parliament Hill attacks, terror threat persists

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(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

By: Candice Malcolm

Sunday marks the three-year anniversary of the horrific terrorist attack on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

On Oct. 22, 2014, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was standing ceremonially on guard at the National War Memorial near Parliament Hill when he was shot in the back by a terrorist.

The 24-year-old Canadian soldier and father of a young son died of his injuries, and the terrorist continued his deadly raid.

The terrorist then stole a Minister’s car—forcing the driver out at gun point—and stormed Centre Block through an entrance below the Peace Tower and shot a security guard in the leg.

The terrorist, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, carried out his terror attack on a Wednesday morning, while all parties were holding their weekly caucus meetings in Centre Block.

Had the terrorist ran to his left, he would have found a room full of Tory MPs and then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Had he turned right, he would have found opposition MPs and then-Leader of the Opposition Thomas Mulcair.

Instead, the terrorist ran straight, towards the grand Library of Parliament, where he was shot and killed by Sergeant of Arms Kevin Vickers.

The attack shocked the nation, and came following news of another deadly attack by another radical Islamist two days earlier.

In a lower profile but just as gruesome attack, terrorist Martin Couture-Rouleau intentionally rammed his car into two members of the Canadian Forces in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.

Warrant officer Patrice Vincent was killed, and another officer was injured.

Both attacks were carried out by radicalized Muslim converts who were inspired by ISIS.

In the case of Zehaf-Bibeau, he reportedly shouted “For Iraq!” after he shot and killed Cirillo. He also recorded a video, later partially released by police, calmly and clearly explaining his terrorist ideology and offering a twisted rationale for his murderous rampage.

Following these attacks, the Harper government introduced new anti-terror legislation to address some of the ways terrorists are able to slip through the cracks of our national security apparatus.

The Conservative’s Bill C-51 allowed government departments and agencies to share vital information when it comes to a potential terrorist threat.

Both Zehaf-Bibeau and Couture-Rouleau were known to authorities; both showed signs of radicalization and violence.

And yet, prior to C-51, it was difficult for agencies to communicate and share intel that could help keep Canadians safe.

Unfortunately, the Liberals campaigned against these national security measures – claiming the bill sacrifices freedom in exchange for security. The government has since put up road blocks to weaken powers that are supposed to be available for emergency use.

But the threat of Islamist terrorism has only increased.

The Islamic State’s grisly campaign through Iraq and Syria recruited thousands of foreign fighters to join its terrorist army, including dozens of Canadians.

Now, as ISIS is being decimated by a US-led coalition, many of those foreign fighters are returning to the West.

Europe is dealing with a full-fledged insurgency, with thousands of known terrorists spread across every major city, and attacks so regular they barely make the news.

Canada must be prepared and equipped to ensure the same doesn’t happen here.

Three years ago, we learned the hard way that we are not immune to the threat of Islamist terrorism. Last month in Edmonton, we saw another ISIS-inspired terrorist strike.

There is no freedom without security, and...(READ MORE)