John Rafferty – I write this column with great sadness

Parliament Hill

Parliament HillOTTAWA – POLITICS – I write this week’s column with great sadness. Our country has suffered a tragedy and a great loss. Let us remember two heroes this week for their selfless sacrifice in the name of our country, our people, and our values.

As I am sure you are aware there was an attack upon our country and our institutions in Ottawa this past week by one of our own. A brave young man, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, sacrificed his life and another, Kevin Vickers the Sergeant-at-Arms for Canada’s parliament, risked his to save the lives of many, many others. I pay tribute to these brave men this week.

Nathan Cirillo was a 25-year-old native of Hamilton Ontario and a Corporal in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Nathan was a former cadet and a proud member of the Canadian Forces. On Wednesday, Nathan was standing as a volunteer Honour Guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. At approximately 9:52 A.M. Nathan was shot point blank in the back by an assailant while he stood on guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Sadly, Cpl. Cirillo lost his life.

Nathan was a father to a six year-old son whom he was raising as a single parent with the assistance of his mother. Accounts in various media outlets from his friends tell us he was a proud Canadian and a compassionate and helpful soul. He was extremely committed to helping secure our country and our people. I mourn for him and for his family, but do so with great appreciation for his sacrifice and their sacrifice. They and we have lost a son, but we will never forget his valour in service of our country, our people, and our values.

Kevin Vickers is the Sergeant-at-Arms for Canada’s parliament. On Wednesday, the same assailant who attacked and killed Cpl. Cirillo, entered parliament’s Centre Block where MPs from all parties were meeting in their caucuses as we do each Wednesday morning when the House is sitting. The assailant entered a door at the front of the building and proceeded up towards the Library of Parliament. The assailant then walked down the Hall of Honour and approached the rooms where the Prime Minister was meeting with his Conservative caucus, and where the New Democratic Party caucus was meeting. As he approached these rooms he was engaged by Mr. Vickers who was soon joined by several other members of the House of Commons security force. After an initial encounter, Mr. Vickers called upon the assailant to drop his weapon. Shortly thereafter, the assailant fired his weapon and was then shot and killed by Mr. Vickers and his colleagues.

Kevin is 58-years-old and hails from Chatham New Brunswick. As our Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin is the person in charge of the safety and security of the Parliament buildings and its occupants. Normally his job is administrative and ceremonial in nature, but sadly Wednesday it was not. Prior to being selected as our Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin had a distinguished career in law enforcement and served in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 29 years. Kevin and his colleagues saved many lives Wednesday, including that of the Prime Minister who sat in a room just a few feet to left of the assailant and my own as I sat in a room a few feet to the right.

Words cannot express the sorrow, respect, and gratitude that I feel for the service and sacrifice of both Cpl. Cirillo and Sgt. Vickers. Both men courageously put country ahead of self, and now both men are loved and will forever be remembered as heroes by a grateful nation.

John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River

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John Rafferty is the current Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay – Rainy River and a member of the New Democratic Party caucus in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario. John was first elected to serve as MP in the 2008 federal election and was subsequently re-elected on May 2, 2011 with 48.1% of the vote.