Canada’s day after

2009 View of the War Memorial with Parliament Hill in the background. Photo: Lucy Martin

2009 View of the War Memorial with Parliament Hill in the background. Photo: Lucy Martin

And now what?

A fair number of regular people and top politicians across Canada are saying Wednesday’s attack in Ottawa could change everything. No more innocence, far less open access.

It is amazing how the actions of just a few can cause so much grief and upset. Distressing to think the balance of normalcy is so fragile.

There will be ample evaluation of what happened – what should have happened? – and what should come next. I don’t feel like raising criticism today, even though some are already identifying aspects of yesterday’s events that seemed lacking.

No, I want to thank those who responded, extend sympathy to those who suffered and fervently hope Canada can take a page from Great Britain’s response to World War II “Keep calm and carry on.

Living in Ottawa I have marveled at the city’s relative peace and low-key tenor. With little fuss and no serious barriers, I’ve been at the War Memorial, and the lawn at Parliament Hill many times. Sometimes within feet of Queen Elizabeth II, various Governor Generals, Prime Ministers, Mayor Jim Watson and other national and international dignitaries.

Parliament Hill welcomes innumerable school tours and visitors, all able to see those halls of democracy with relative ease. (And beautiful halls they are, with stone work I consider breathtaking.) The lawn fronting Parliament Hill has long been a safe happy place to gather – for events like Canada Day, restrained political protest, even “Yoga on the Hill“, mats and all.

It’s a beautiful expression of Canada’s most famous quality, that of being “nice.”

Canada and Canadians know how to be tough as well.

But may we never lose, never give up, the pleasant decency that distinguishes life in “…the true north strong and free.”

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