MP Comartin On Parliament Hill Lockdown

Windsor-Tecumseh MP Joe Comartin, Sept 1 2014. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle.)

He says parliamentarians don’t want to limit public access to Parliament Hill, but Windsor-Tecumseh MP Joe Comartin says it may be time to rethink security following Wednesday’s shooting incident.

Comartin was one of the hundreds of MPs who were locked down inside the building after a gunman shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the National War Museum, before opening fire inside Centre Block at Parliament Hill. Comartin still attends caucus meetings although he can’t participate as the Deputy Speaker of the House. “I was only 20 or 30 ft away from where the shooting was,” he says. “Our security guard came in and said, ‘everybody get down, barricade the doors.'”

As the hours wore on, Comartin’s colleagues did their best to keep everyone’s spirits up. “You know you get the black humour. You get the false humour, the false joviality,” he says. “We’re very, very upset by the death of that soldier.”

Comartin says the incident also highlighted the need to reconsider security in a building where not only are the country’s laws passed, but continues to be a popular tourist spot.

“The main doors at the Peace Tower, at the second level. I think we’d have to seriously consider beefing up security or closing those doors and having people come through another entrance,” he says. “We’re proud of the fact that our citizenry feels comfortable coming here seeing the building seeing where we govern from, and we’re going to be very careful about not curtailing that.”

Comartin participated in past discussions about security and believes there will be much discussion about it in the days to come, however, he stresses his comments are speculative.

As for when Parliament will resume, Comartin says he and his colleagues are eager to get back to work, but police consider the Centre Block a crime scene.