Ottawa shooting grim reminder of Denis Lortie’s 1984 attack

Ottawa shooting grim reminder of Denis Lortie’s 1984 attack

Main pic: Salon Bleu de l’Assemblée nationale du Québec. Photo credit: Paulo Barcellos Jr.

Quebec City (Quebec) 23 October, 2014 – When we see events like the drama in Ottawa which took the life of a soldier on Wednesday October 22, we who live in Quebec City, and who are old enough to remember, are reminded of the attack on Quebec’s legislature back in 1984 when Corporal Lortie, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, entered by a side door, and armed with a rifle, took down three innocent bystanders with the intention of killing the premier of the province who at the time was René Lévesque.

The story has certain resemblances to what went down in Ottawa, except that the people involved and affected were the opposite of those in Ottawa.

Unlike Ottawa, the shooter was a soldier, he was not the victim, he was the suspect. The people who died were not military personnel but rather innocent government workers who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Security in public buildings at the time was essentially non-existent, making it easy for anyone to enter the parliament, as Lortie did, and practically take over control of the building with the wave of a gun.

Even the ending was not the same. Lortie had miscalculated the timing of his attack and ended up stranded all alone in an empty blue room which, if he had arrived at the right time, would have been filled with politicians. He ended up sitting in the chair where the Speaker of the House, (Président de la Chambre) usually sits shooting off rounds into the empty walls.

What was the same however, was the person who ended the siege. In Quebec City, like in Ottawa, it was the Sergeant at Arms who subdued the suspect, albeit with words rather than bullets. In Quebec City Sgt. René Jalbert, talked down the assailant by conversing with him in his own military language. Lortie finally threw down his gun and surrendered. Sgt, Jalbert was honoured at the Provincial and Federal level for his bravery. Lortie, who suffered from schizophrenia, was put behind bars for ten years.

Fast forward to Ottawa 2014, and Sgt Kevin Vickers plays his part in taking down the armed assailant inside federal parliament buildings.

A nation mourns, and due to the acts of a few, our country has changed forever.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Nathan Cirillo, the Canadian soldier slain while doing his duty, guarding our national war memorial in Ottawa.

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