By TOM GODFREY
Many tears have been shed for brave Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was killed by a coward as he was protecting his fallen comrades at The War Memorial in Ottawa.
Our nation is grieving from the senseless shooting of an unarmed Cirillo and attempted siege of Parliament last week by a crazed gunman who was shot dead by sergeant-in-arms Kevin Vickers.
Canadians from all races and backgrounds also joined together to sing our national anthem or pay a minute of silence to Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was run down and killed by a motorist a day earlier as he walked in a Quebec parking lot.
Cirillo, 24, a member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, received a full military burial with mourners arriving from across the country to pay their respect to the avid dog lover and father of a six-year-old son.
Toronto residents have been signing books of condolences or sending flowers or letters of support to the grieving families. Thousands of bouquets of flowers were left outside the Highlanders’ headquarters and at the Cirillo home, both in Hamilton.
It was only last week that our Mayoral race and election of Toronto councillors dominated the headlines. It also seemed then that life was a bit simpler, considering the emotional trauma that we have all been through since.
Today, security at our City Hall, Queen’s Park and courthouses has been beefed up in light of the tragic deaths.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair has vowed to increase the number of officers patrolling the TTC and public spaces to prevent a possible copycat incident.
The two dead men who killed the soldiers are said to be radicalized Muslims who wanted to travel abroad to fight for ISIS, police said.
There are already calls by some MPPs, who say they feel unsafe and want armed security officers or the OPP returned to guard lawmakers at Queen’s Park.
The platoons of cops and security officers now patrolling our subways and streets have most city residents feeling a bit more safe and secure.
But, police aren’t sure where the next threat will come from, or who the next “lone wolf” gunman may be and have even placed Prime Minister Stephen Harper under 24-hour protection.
And with two of their colleagues gone, soldiers belonging to the Toronto Scottish Regiment weren’t taking any chances and had a gate leading to their Headquarters locked during a community fundraiser last week.
Soldiers were opening the gate to allow guests inside the compound on Birmingham St. in Etobicoke, where about 100 residents gathered to support the troops.
All Canadians are stunned by the conversion of these privileged young men into hardened killers.
A top RCMP analyst told me that the phenomenon of young radicalized Canadians travelling abroad to fight has many senior cops and politicians searching for answers.
“Many of these young people are lost and are looking for answers,” the Mountie said. “They find someone who is paying them attention on the Internet and many become radicalized in time.”
Our new mayor and councillors, after a hard-fought campaign, will have to pay more emphasis on security-related matters at City Hall, which until now has not been a priority.
The long election campaign was incident free with no violence but with racist insults hurled against Olivia Chow, Ward 2 candidate, Munira Abukar and Ward 10 school board trustee hopeful, Ausma Malik.
Residents of this city are strong and have banded together in the past to survive floods, blackouts and a raging ice storm.
We will never forget these brave soldiers, who were not given a fair chance to protect themselves, with one taking his last gasp outside our nation’s Parliament.
This tragedy affects all of us on many levels and is something that will haunt us forever.
“Canada is a good country, with good people and we didn’t deserve this black eye,” an aging veteran told me afterwards.
We all agree.