The Quality of Mercy

I shall wait now, as the tumult and the shouting fades, for a detailed, factual, telling of the of the assassination of two Canadian soldiers, one in a parking lot in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, southeast of Montreal, the second at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
I have, heard and read and watched on TV, the cowardly acts of two mentally unstable young men. One used a car to run down and kill Canadian Forces Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent as he walked across a parking lot. The other shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo as he stood in ceremonial tribute at Canada’s National War Memorial in Ottawa.
Martin Couture-Rouleau was the driver of the car who waited two hours in the parking lot before he found a uniformed target to ram. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was the rifle toting killer who shot Cpl Cirillo twice in the back before racing into the Parliament buildings presumably to find other unsuspecting targets
Public reaction was angry, fearful, and emotionally over the top with newspaper headlines from one screaming OTTAWA UNDER ATTACK to others suggesting Canada’s capital city was under siege by Islamic forces.
Time now for a calmer view; time to reduce the hyperbole and for government to tell us, calmly and rationally what happened – and how we, especially media, must keep calm when, as it surely must, something similar, happens again.
What do I want to know? I would like to know who issues the designation of “hero” so easily – and just a few weeks before we gather on November 11 to remember so many of them.
I would like to know why Samearn Son, the unarmed security officer at the entrance to Parliament who was shot in the foot as he tried to wrestle the rifle from Zehaf-Bibeau, virtually disappeared from the story after he shouted “gun, gun…” and thus warned others what they were facing. He hasn’t been mentioned by the designators of heroes.
I would like to know what happened to the two survivors of the car ramming in which WO Vincent died. Referred to as “wearing civilian clothes” has vanished from the story. The third man, a soldier in uniform, was seriously injured. Is he okay? Are he and his family being properly take care of?
I would like to know if a news story was accurate when it noted Cpl.Cirillo and his colleagues were there for ceremonial impressions only. Their weapons looked powerful but were not “live”. They might deter but could never stop an attack.
And one last question: I have nothing but praise for the quick reaction of Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers, to “drop, roll and rise shooting” and killing Zehaf-Bibeau. But I have a queasy feeling when I read his weapon was an automatic and that after the shooting he tersely reported he had engaged the suspect who “is now deceased’, then calmly returned to his nearby office to re-load. Does that mean he emptied a full clip and that other nearby security staff added some postscript shots to make sure he hadn’t missed?
I’m sure we shall find out when autopsy reports on all the dead are made public. And I hope that whatever they reveal we can soften kneejerk reactions by remembering Portia’s plea in the Merchant of Venice: “The quality of mercy is not strain’d, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath: it is twice blest; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”


  1. Another great and wise column to make us think. To bad you are not writing for the Colonist people need to hear this stuff.

  2. Great message. Some of the hype after the event was shocking. Even a suggestion service personal not wear their uniforms when off duty. I believe the great majority are proud to wear them.

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