Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivers remarks in the House
23 October 2014
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today delivered the following remarks in the House of Commons addressing the attacks in the Nation’s Capital:
“Thank you, colleagues.
“Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin today by recognizing and thanking the Leader of the Opposition and the Honourable Member for Papineau for their kind remarks and words of encouragement yesterday evening.
“Mr. Speaker, in our system, in our country, we are opponents but we are never enemies.
“We are Canadians, one and all.
“We may be across the aisle from one another, but when faced with attacks on the country we all love and the things we all stand for, I know we will always stand together.
“Mr. Speaker, today more than ever before, I’m quite pleased to see all of my colleagues from all parties in good health and good form.
“Let me just maybe use that Mr. Speaker, through you, to provide a little bit of advice to my colleagues.
“I think my position and a growing number of grey hairs entitles me to do this once in a while, and that is just to say, we all here are engaged in extremely demanding and stressful jobs.
“But the stress that many of you faced yesterday was really beyond and above anything that any of us are really expecting to face.
“I would just say while we resume our duties, and I'll talk about that in a moment, I would encourage everybody here to take care of their health.
“Be sure that you find some time to relax in the next little while, and also if any of you – because we are not all in perfect health – if any of you are experiencing any undue physical stress as a result of what occurred yesterday, please take the time to see a physician and get that checked out.
“I also just want to say to Canadians – we heard a lot of feedback from Canadians yesterday.
“We are all used to the feedback we get very regularly from Canadians.
“Much of it in the form of brick bats, and some of it deserved.
“But in this case, Mr. Speaker, I think we all experienced the tremendous outpouring of warmth and affection and good wishes from people across the country and we thank them, all of us here.
“I just also want to convey all the good wishes that I heard personally, not just from Canadians but from our friends outside the country.
“I heard from President Obama, from Prime Minister Abbott, from Prime Minister Netanyahu, through a statement from Prime Minister Cameron.
“We've heard these expressions across the world.
“I think we were all, as Canadians, touched by the wonderful gesture shown last night at the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game.
“So thank you to our friends in the United States and around the world.
“Of course, Mr. Speaker, we know all too well this is not a happy day for everybody.
“In particular, a terribly sad day for all of the family, loved ones, friends, colleagues of both Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent.
“We have seen photos of these lovely men.
“We've all seen the pictures of these beautiful guys, as Don Cherry would say, and our hearts really are with all of them.
“We are so fortunate to have people like this.
“The past couple of decades has, you know, we see across the world, increasing places where the planet is descending into savagery and there are people who every day of their lives stand on guard for this country and for all of us, and we obviously want to convey our gratitude to these two servicemen and their families, but also to all the people who undertake this extremely dangerous work.
“Mr. Speaker, I spoke of the state of much of the world and I think for all of us who are blessed to live in a country like this, it is hard to appreciate, understand, fathom how we can have people who so despise, are involved in a movement who so want violence, who so despise modernity, who so hate progress, that they can desire to drive out medical workers from their community, harm them, how they can enslave women, torture children.
“How they can kill, want to kill anyone who looks or thinks different than them.
“It is in a sense, Mr. Speaker, beyond our comprehension but it is very real and in this struggle in which we are engaged, in which not only our finest values must be put to work, so must be and will be the highest unity and resolve.
“They are our ultimate and indispensible weapons and that's what these people will face.
“Mr. Speaker, with regard to the events of yesterday and in recent days, a number of questions remain and will all be answered over the course of the police security investigations.
“But I can tell the House this today: the objective of both of those attacks was to spread fear and panic in our country and to interrupt the business of government.
“Well, Honourable Members, as I said yesterday, Canadians will never be intimidated.
“We will be vigilant but we will not run scared.
“We will be prudent but we will not panic.
“And as for the business of government, well, here we are, in our seats, in our chamber in the very heart of our democracy and our work.
“Mr. Speaker, in all its diversity of peoples and opinions, this House personifies the spirit of Canada.
“Canada will never yield to terrorism and neither will this House of Commons.
“We carry on.
“We will attend to the country's affairs and we will be faithful to the trust that people have placed in us.
“Now, Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier and I have been saying for a long time, we live in dangerous world.
“Terrorism has been here with us for a while and dangerously close on a number of occasions.
“I speak for example, I draw our members’ attention back to incidents such as the Toronto 18, the Via Rail conspiracy in 2013, and I could point to a number of others as well as many that most will never know about.
“For that reason and with the belief and security that Canada is the government's primary responsibility, we have over the years passed such legislation as the Combating Terrorism Act and the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act to better protect Canadians and secure institutions.
“Last week, our Government proposed amendments to the legislation under which the Canadian Security Intelligence Service operates.
“And as you know, Mr. Speaker, in recent weeks I've been saying that our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, attention and arrest.
“They need to be much strengthened and I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that work which is already underway will be expedited.
“In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, we're all aware and deeply troubled that both of this week's terrorist attacks were carried out by Canadian citizens, by young men born and raised in this peaceful country.
“I share this concern, and I have to ask myself what sort of feeble-mindedness could lead a person to reject a nationality that so many people in so many countries would do anything to earn for their children.
“That is a question for another day.
“For now, make no mistake, even as the brave men and women of our Armed Forces are taking this fight to the terrorists on their own territory, we are equally revolved to fight it here.
“We live in dangerous times, yes, but the mission of our country and the work of this Parliament goes on.
“And so does the work throughout this city.
“Let me just say one final word, in recognizing all of the heroics of yesterday.
“First of all, I know so many – I could certainly speak personally to my staff at 24 Sussex – Mr. Roger Charbonneau, the chefs, Tim and Tina, who were up all night.
“But I know people who for all of us across the country and here in Ottawa were working day and night to make things as easy as possible.
“Officials who were busy at work trying to respond to the situation, first responders and citizens who put themselves in harm's way when this incident began to unfold.
“But obviously, Mr. Speaker, and in conclusion most particularly the men and women of our security services, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canadian Armed Forces, the City of Ottawa Police and most particularly, of course, Mr. Speaker, I would be very remiss if I did not conclude in acknowledging specifically the work of the security forces here on Parliament and the great work of our Sergeant-at-Arms.”
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