Today I would like to acknowledge, on behalf of all hon. members, the courage, professionalism, and dedication of the personnel of the protective service of the House of Commons.
We are all, without question, in their debt. Under the leadership of the Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, and director general, Patrick McDonell, the House of Commons Protective Service is a reassuring presence in the Parliament buildings. Each and every day, this remarkable team demonstrates its commitment to ensuring the safety of members, employees, and visitors to the Hill.
On October 22, 2014, their quick response during the attack in Centre Block most certainly prevented an even more tragic conclusion to the day's events.
As hon. members will know, Constable Samearn Son, a valued member of the House of Commons protective service for 10 years, was injured while attempting to disarm the gunman, despite being unarmed himself. His selfless action, putting his own body in harm's way, was a stunning example of bravery and brought further honour and esteem to the protective service.
We also remember those constables who stood guard, protecting parliamentarians, employees, and others who waited to receive word that all was clear. They provided reassurance in the early moments following the gunfire, and remained calm in the performance of their duties as the lockdown continued throughout the day and into the evening.
Throughout the day’s events, along with great acts of bravery, there were many acts of kindness and generosity as well.
A group of Swiss students visiting Canada for the first time was in the midst of a tour of Parliament when the incident began. While they were safely ushered to a secure area, the group had been split over two different tours and found themselves separated and anxious about their classmates and fellow teachers. Constables were able to account for the full group and provide assurances that everyone was safe. In the midst of everything that was going on, I can only imagine the measure of relief that this brought to the teachers and parents accompanying their group.
The response on October 22 was certainly a team effort, as much a result of rigorous training and skilled leadership as it was the product of individual bravery and basic kindness.
It is also important to acknowledge the support provided by the House administration and the many parliamentary services that worked tirelessly behind the scenes to support our front-line protective service personnel and to ensure that we could return to work, business as usual, the very next morning.
I believe the sentiments we all share were aptly captured by the chair of the procedure and House affairs committee, the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London, when he recently stated, “We had acquaintances with some of the constables up until that day. I think (we) have formed lifelong friendships with some of them now”.
On behalf of all members, it is a sincere honour to express our gratitude here today to all the men and women of the House of Commons protective service. We know we are safer because of you and your actions will not be forgotten by anyone in the Parliament Hill community.