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London attack all too familiar to attack here

As the frightening footage unfolds from London, how it brings back grim memories of the terror attack on our own Parliament Hill almost three years ago. A man in uniform attacked and killed by a terrorist determined to breach the heart of our government, to defile the centre of our democracy. A lone wolf bent on destruction. So it was with Ottawa s assailant, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. And now apparently, an eerily similar attack by a killer in London.

How simple, and deadly, are their methods. There s no need for sophisticated suitcase bombs or complex chemical warfare. Instead, the weapons of choice these days are a simple vehicle and perhaps a knife or gun. The London assailant drove a Hyundai into pedestrians walking along Westminster Bridge, mowing down dozens of people, including three French teens on a field trip in the British capital. As bodies lay broken and bleeding in his wake, he smashed his vehicle into the iron railings surrounding Parliament and then lunged at an unarmed police officer with his knife, plunging it over and over again until he was finally shot dead. His rampage claimed five lives and left at least 40 injured.

In the Ottawa attack, Zehaf-Bibeau didn t use his car as a weapon, though two days earlier in Quebec, jihadist Martin Rouleau would use his to kill Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Vehicle-ramming on a large scale is a more recent terrorist strategy thanks to Nice and Berlin, where it provided so much carnage with so little effort. Last summer, it was a tractor trailer driven into a seaside crowd watching fireworks on Bastille Day, slaughtering 84. Months later, a truck driven into a Christmas market killed 12. In other ways, though, the echoes of our own terror attack reverberate from across the pond.

Corp. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down Oct. 22 2014 as he stood guard at the National War Memorial, shot three times while guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. His killer then turned his sights on Parliament, storming through the doors of the Centre Block where Conservatives and the NDP had just begun their respective caucus meetings. Frightened MPs barricaded themselves behind doors reinforced with furniture as a wild gunfight in the hall ended with the death of Zehaf-Bibeau. The symbolism of attacking our seat of government was no accident, not in Ottawa and not in London. The values … our Parliament represents – democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law – command the admiration and respect of free people everywhere, said British Prime Minister Theresa May.

That is why it is a target for those who reject those values. In the initial hours of chaos and fear, we anxiously search for heroes as a counterpoint to the nihilistic ugliness of terror. In Ottawa, we latched onto the six bystanders who tried to keep Cirillo alive, telling the young father he was brave and he was loved. And of course, there were the men who finally brought the assault to an end: then-sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers, now Canada s ambassador to Ireland, and RCMP Const. Curtis Barrett.

In London, it was the first responders who had long trained for this inevitable day: those who quickly killed the assailant before he could make his way into Parliament itself and those who tended the many who lay wounded along the road. Most striking, though, was the photo of Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood, blood still on his brow, who was rightly heralded as a hero for his desperate attempt to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the dying Parliamentary police officer. There are other parallels as well. As in Ottawa, there is initial reticence to state what so many naturally assume: that the motive here was radical Islamic terror. It finally took the release of his cellphone video manifesto before many would finally accept that the Canadian-born Zehaf-Bibeau stormed Parliament Hill as a jihadist determined to kill the infidels. Hours after Wednesday s violence, UK police confirmed they e working on the assumption that it was inspired by Islamist-related terrorism. They have yet to release the name of the culprit.

But here, too, the similarities are striking. It appears this terrorist is yet another homegrown radical bent on destroying the way of life he s long enjoyed.

References

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Terrorism knows no bounds

Michele Mandel, Postmedia Network

Mar 22, 2017

, Last Updated: 11:16 PM ET

As the frightening footage unfolds from London, how it brings back grim memories of the terror attack on our own Parliament Hill almost three years ago. A man in uniform attacked and killed by a terrorist determined to breach the heart of our government, to defile the centre of our democracy. A lone wolf bent on destruction. So it was with Ottawa s assailant, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. And now apparently, an eerily similar attack by a killer in London.

How simple, and deadly, are their methods. There s no need for sophisticated suitcase bombs or complex chemical warfare. Instead, the weapons of choice these days are a simple vehicle and perhaps a knife or gun. The London assailant drove a Hyundai into pedestrians walking along Westminster Bridge, mowing down dozens of people, including three French teens on a field trip in the British capital. As bodies lay broken and bleeding in his wake, he smashed his vehicle into the iron railings surrounding Parliament and then lunged at an unarmed police officer with his knife, plunging it over and over again until he was finally shot dead. His rampage claimed five lives and left at least 40 injured.

In the Ottawa attack, Zehaf-Bibeau didn t use his car as a weapon, though two days earlier in Quebec, jihadist Martin Rouleau would use his to kill Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Vehicle-ramming on a large scale is a more recent terrorist strategy thanks to Nice and Berlin, where it provided so much carnage with so little effort. Last summer, it was a tractor trailer driven into a seaside crowd watching fireworks on Bastille Day, slaughtering 84. Months later, a truck driven into a Christmas market killed 12. In other ways, though, the echoes of our own terror attack reverberate from across the pond.

Corp. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down Oct. 22 2014 as he stood guard at the National War Memorial, shot three times while guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. His killer then turned his sights on Parliament, storming through the doors of the Centre Block where Conservatives and the NDP had just begun their respective caucus meetings. Frightened MPs barricaded themselves behind doors reinforced with furniture as a wild gunfight in the hall ended with the death of Zehaf-Bibeau. The symbolism of attacking our seat of government was no accident, not in Ottawa and not in London. The values … our Parliament represents – democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law – command the admiration and respect of free people everywhere, said British Prime Minister Theresa May.

That is why it is a target for those who reject those values. In the initial hours of chaos and fear, we anxiously search for heroes as a counterpoint to the nihilistic ugliness of terror. In Ottawa, we latched onto the six bystanders who tried to keep Cirillo alive, telling the young father he was brave and he was loved. And of course, there were the men who finally brought the assault to an end: then-sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers, now Canada s ambassador to Ireland, and RCMP Const. Curtis Barrett.

In London, it was the first responders who had long trained for this inevitable day: those who quickly killed the assailant before he could make his way into Parliament itself and those who tended the many who lay wounded along the road. Most striking, though, was the photo of Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood, blood still on his brow, who was rightly heralded as a hero for his desperate attempt to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the dying Parliamentary police officer.

There are other parallels as well. As in Ottawa, there is initial reticence to state what so many naturally assume: that the motive here was radical Islamic terror. It finally took the release of his cellphone video manifesto before many would finally accept that the Canadian-born Zehaf-Bibeau stormed Parliament Hill as a jihadist determined to kill the infidels.

A week after Montreal’s bungled blizzard, questions and blame linger

Almost seven days after the last snowflake of a huge winter storm, Montrealers are still sorting out what caused a 300-car, 12-hour traffic jam on a freeway, has a truck driver facing mischief charges, put three civil servants and two provincial ministers in the hot seat and has even rattled the ivory towers of McGill University. With inquiries under way, Transport Minister Laurent Lessard and Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux emerged Tuesday for what has become a daily flogging by the Quebec press. In the latest session, it was learned the ministers went to bed on storm night believing only 30 people were stranded. It was still not clear who dropped the other zero.

There were problems on the ground and in communicating, Mr. Coiteux said. There was confusion. There was a lack of leadership. We re sorry for the faults in our operations. Our goal is that it never happens again.

Last week, as the Eastern Seaboard of the United States braced for a storm that never came, Montreal was hit with 40 centimetres of snow and strong winds the biggest blizzard of the season but the kind normally taken in stride in Canadian cities. On a stretch of Autoroute 13 running through an industrial area between Montr al-Trudeau airport and a rail yard, a snow-clearing company in charge of the highway was slow to react to the late-winter storm. Soon, transport trucks could no longer grip the road, causing an immense traffic jam. Police in cruisers got stuck at the back of the snarl and made repeated calls for help that never came. Drivers fruitlessly called 911. A few commuters walked out, but 12 hours later, on Wednesday morning, most were still huddled in cars near the heart of Canada s second-biggest city, waiting for a tow.

Around that time, Mr. Lessard strolled toward a meeting only to be confronted by journalists who had better information than the minister. He soon became irritated and walked away, prompting Premier Philippe Couillard to emerge an hour later to do damage control. Meanwhile, in Montreal, the fire department finally sent out trucks to rescue the stuck commuters as well as a bus equipped with a desperately needed toilet. It s still not clear what happened, but two officers in charge of the sector for the S ret du Qu bec have been placed on desk duty. An official with the Transport Ministry, which owns and operates the highway, has also been relieved of some duties. And on Sunday, a truck driver accused of refusing to let his truck be towed was arrested and told he could face a charge of mischief.

Meanwhile, attempts are under way to get beyond snowfall and bureaucratic bungling to explain what it really means a type of sociological commentary most commonly practised in, and on, the province of Quebec. Andrew Potter, the director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, wrote in Maclean s magazine that the crisis was rooted in the social alienation afflicting Quebec. He cited as evidence the Qu b cois instinct to pay for things such as soup and winter tires under the table and to avoid social interaction, volunteerism and charitable donations on a larger scale than the rest of Canada. Some of the points are true, but many critics including the Premier are not convinced the province is an almost pathologically alienated and low-trust society or that incompetent plowing, towing and emergency response constituted a mass breakdown in social order, as Mr. Potter wrote. In fact, stranded commuters acted in an exemplary fashion, sharing water, snacks and warm vehicles with those running low on fuel.

Mr. Potter was roundly condemned as a Quebec basher in the politico-media echo chamber, which is another style of commentary unique to the province. McGill University took the trouble to distance itself from Mr. Potter. This outraged academics, who jealously guard their freedom to be wrong.

Still, Mr. Potter issued a retraction, admitting to rhetorical flourishes that went beyond what was warranted. In other words, maybe it was just a big blizzard and another botched snow-clearing job.

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Follow Les Perreaux on Twitter: @Perreaux[2]

Also on The Globe and Mail

Snow angels come to the rescue during raging Ottawa snowstorm (CTVNews Video)

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  1. ^ Report Typo/Error (www.theglobeandmail.com)
  2. ^ @Perreaux (twitter.com)
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