There may not be words that can convey last week in Ottawa. 

Having spent close to 10 hours in a hastily secured lockup while emergency responders bravely secured the Parliamentary precinct was an unprecedented experience for all of us.

The sound of gunshots, the gunman being killed mere feet away, and later learning of the tragic death of a member of our armed forces while performing his service as an honour guard is more than can be conveyed or reflected upon in the brief space of this column.

On behalf of the citizens of Okanagan-Coquihalla, I know our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those armed forces members who were tragically executed over that week.

I would also like to take a moment and thank the many citizens who took the time to express concern during this ordeal – it is an experience that I believe all Canadians will not forget.

It has been suggested that the day in question will forever change Canada. I submit it cannot and should not.

In the weeks and months ahead, while we learn more about last week, we must never forget what we know about ourselves. 

As Canadians, we have always stood bravely to fight for freedom, for democracy and against those who would do us harm. We welcome and embrace our vastness and our uniqueness. 

We may, at times, disagree; however, our way is to do so respectfully and peacefully. It is our diversity that has united us as Canadians in values that we share that make us proud.

Our Canada is one that will always be united and as Canadians we will stand together to defend those principles that have long helped to build our country.

On Thursday, the House of Commons resumed and the democratic debate and discussion that will fill the halls serves as a reminder that Canada cannot and will not be intimidated by senseless and disturbing acts of brutal violence. It is understandable that changes will occur on Parliament Hill. However, from my own standpoint, we must ensure that our democratic institutions remain in operation and that they are always accessible to Canadians who are served by them. 

It is also important that we remain open minded and continue to learn from last week’s events and take whatever measures are necessary to protect citizens from harm, whether they be Parliamentarians, security forces, public servants or citizens.

As I wrote this week’s report, our House ceremonies had just re-opened with a well-deserved tribute to the bravery of our sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers, who, alongside his team, courageously defended the House of Commons from an armed assault. After the ceremony, our prime minister, along with the leaders of the opposition, expressed unity as we move forward to ensure our democratic process stands above the threats of violence and terror. 

Collectively, members of Parliament represent Canadians and as much as we often agree to disagree in this place, the unity among those in the House on this day was a reminder that Canada is a united country that will always stand together in the fight for freedom, for democracy and the rule of law.
Dan Albas is the member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla.