VICTORIA – The October murder of two Canadian Forces members and a running gun battle in the House of Commons has prompted an increase in guns, body armour and weapon detection procedures at the B.C. legislature.
Legislature security guards have always had access to weapons, but the Oct. 22 assault by a lone gunman in Ottawa will mean a more obvious security presence in Victoria. MLAs voted last week to approve installation of an airport-style scanner at the main entrance, and sidearms and body armour for more than half of the B.C. legislature’s 70 security staff.
Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz, in charge of legislature security, also received approval for increased training. Lenz said the objective is “to ensure that all the people who work here, from tour guides to MLAs and all staff, are aware of what actions they should take in the event of an active shooter.”
Unlike the House of Commons, there are no police stationed at the legislature. Security guards, many of whom are former police officers, have special constable status under B.C. law and are permitted to carry firearms.
After the murder of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, run down by a car in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. on Oct. 20, and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot in the back as he stood guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa Oct. 22, there has been an upsurge of support for the military and an early start to tributes at cenotaphs across the country.
Poppy sales have increased and larger than usual crowds are expected at Remembrance Day ceremonies, in a year that saw the end of Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan, a new deployment of fighter aircraft to the Middle East, and the 100th anniversary of the First World War.