Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Canadian Shooting Leaves Me Furious, Puzzled

with 2 comments

It’s been three days since a misguided, delusional man shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a reservist in the Canadian Army, in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa. This same man then hijacked a car, ran into the nearby Parliament building and attempted to kill some more innocent people before he finally, mercifully was shot dead.

And in all of that time, I’ve been wrestling with my feelings over this.

I have many Canadian friends, but even if I didn’t have a single one, I would still be furious. How dare someone attack an unarmed soldier like Cpl. Cirillo for doing his duty? How dare someone attack the seat of the Canadian government?

I’m not going to name the attacker because I feel he’s already had too much publicity. Instead, I’d like to say a few things about Cpl. Cirillo, these garnered from one of the very few United States publications to accurately report what was going on in Ottawa on Tuesday, the New York Times.

Cpl. Cirillo was a 25-year-old man who loved to work out, play with his two dogs, and was the proud father of a young son. He had an Instagram account, posting pictures of himself in ceremonial uniform (complete with kilt and Glengarry bonnet) along with pics of his dogs. He worked part-time as a bouncer at a nightclub, occasionally worked as a personal trainer at a gym, and apparently enjoyed his life and everything in it.

Cpl. Cirillo did not deserve to be shot dead while guarding the National War Memorial. In fact, he didn’t deserve to be shot dead at all. He was just a normal young man, doing his military duty, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as so many have done before him.

Cpl. Cirillo’s normalcy is exactly why I’m so furious. He deserved more time on this Earth, and his life was brutally ripped away by a thug.

Fortunately for everyone’s peace of mind — in Canada and out — once the armed thug was inside the Parliament building, Sergeant-At-Arms Kevin Vickers  was able to shoot and kill the intruder. Vickers, 58, was later commended for his actions, but deflected it.

But it never should’ve happened. And it puzzles me that this attack actually did come off.

You see, unlike in the United States, where ceremonial guards carry weapons with live ammunition, Cpl. Cirillo carried an unloaded gun. Had it been loaded, it’s possible that the Corporal would still be alive today.

If this were the United States, hand-wringing would ensue. Congresscritters of all sorts would be condemning the gunman, condemning the state of affairs in the country, blaming the President and goodness alone what else, and basically dithering.

Because it happened in Canada, the U.S. politicos have mostly been silent. President Obama condemned the attack and sent his condolences, as you’d expect, and a very few other politicians mentioned it . . . but as our Congress is out on recess, not much else happened.

And because the state of the media in the United States is so distressingly bad, very little additional information has come out regarding why, exactly, this occurred, why anyone in the Canadian government thought it was OK for a soldier in the performance of his duty to carry an unloaded weapon, or even much about the bravery of Sergeant-At-Arms Vickers.

There are many good sources about all of this, of course, including the CBC, the UK media, and a very few newspapers and magazines in the US. But for whatever reason, that’s not what comes up first in web searches; instead, what comes up is information about the gunman, information about what the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is doing about all of this, and whether or not the Parliament building will now have much greater security than it did before.

Decent coverage, but it’s not what interests me most.

Instead, I want to hear more about Cpl. Cirillo. More about the brave woman, Barbara Winters, who attempted to save Cpl. Cirillo’s life. And more about what average Canadians think of this terrible tragedy, for that matter.

Those are the real stories, and they have been profoundly overlooked in the United States, possibly because of the lamentable state of contemporary journalism.

And that’s so sad, it’s heartbreaking.

2 Responses

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  1. More on Barb Winters –

    How my country feels – shock and disgust. One of our own shot a guard doing his duty at the War Memorial – this is inconceivable. We are outraged.
    Our Prime Minister said it best – we will not be intimidated – the world thinks of Canada as this nice little nation. And we are – but we also have a deep pride and a deep sense of honour and that shooter insulted both.

    To show our deep sense of honour the parents of the shooter are not being harassed. There is more sympathy felt for them – to have to suffer the humiliation of what their son has done.

    Sgt Vickers – is the type of man whom you could compare to being a Marine – he shrugged off the accolades sent him because he was simply doing his duty. The day Parliament resumed – he was honoured by our Members of Parliament and our Prime Minister and then he went about his regular day.

    On why Cpt Cirillo was unarmed – it’s part of the our national psyche that a reservist doesn’t need to be armed when standing guard by a National War Memorial in Ottawa. It is an honour to be asked. I live an hour outside of Ottawa – I go there on a regular basis, my neighbour works 2 blocks from where this happened and a friend works inside the Parliament buildings. Ottawa is kind of a quiet, beautiful city, with swans swimming in the canal. Canada doesn’t have a gun culture. We think it is revolting to carry unconcealed weapons or visible weapons – if you aren’t a cop. Our military who work in offices in Ottawa are not armed – they are in uniform but are not armed.

    American response – the singing of our anthem at the Philadelphia hockey game – gave us back a bit of our … I don’t know what the word is – our soul. Yes, President Obama sent condolences and yes, not much else was heard from any other American politician – but up here we expect that. We are a tiny dot on their radars and if it doesn’t affect them – it doesn’t exist.

    Thank you for caring enough to write this post.

    Daryl Devore

    October 27, 2014 at 9:34 am

    • You’re welcome, Daryl. I just wish I could do more to highlight all of this, because I find it utterly disgusting. That anyone would shoot a guard, unarmed _or_ armed, outside of a War Memorial while guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier sickens and appalls me (as I said before).

      And to me, it matters when something like this happens *anywhere* — but most especially when it happens to the United States’ nearest neighbor and one of our staunchest allies.

      Please don’t take the dithering and stupidity of our American politicos for the response of the nation to this brutal and senseless attack. Also, please, please do not take the lack of accurate reporting in the American media for lack of interest on our part, either…because it’s not the case.

      I can’t do much about the media or the politicians, granted. But I know, deep in my heart, that this was an utterly wrong and disgusting act. (I am very pleased that the parents of the deranged, delusional man who shot Cpl. Cirillo are not being harassed. And even though media reports say the man was not deranged, that he acted with “cold rationality” and the like, you _can_ be mentally ill and be coldly rational…thus my word choice. Maybe it’s splitting hairs, but I don’t think anyone can make a rational choice like this one and be sane. I just don’t.)

      Barb Caffrey

      October 27, 2014 at 10:29 pm

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