What if the Governor General and the prime minister, or their families, had been there at the time the intruder crashed through the gates?
On Thursday, a man apparently armed with several weapons crashed his vehicle through a gate at Rideau Hall, then abandoned it and started moving toward the buildings on foot. National Capital Commission workers on-site notified the security commissionaires, who called the RCMP. Eventually, the man was arrested.
According to the RCMP, there was never any danger to either the Governor General or the prime minister, who lives on the grounds at Rideau Cottage. The reason they were safe, it seemed, was that neither was actually there at the time.
What if they had been? What if Justin Trudeau or his children had been playing outside, or Julie Payette and her son had been taking a stroll? Things could have gone down very differently.
We might have had a replay of Aline Chrétien discovering a knife-wielding intruder inside the house at 24 Sussex Dr. and waiting several minutes for the RCMP to show up.
Or, more tragically, a repeat of the 2014 attack by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who killed a soldier at the National War Memorial, then rushed through the doors of Centre Block with a rifle and a knife before finally being gunned down.
Our national police force wasn’t providing much detail Friday of what, exactly, transpired to bring things at Rideau Hall to a peaceful ending, other than that police talked to the armed man for 90 minutes. But RCMP Deputy Commissioner Mike Duheme also admitted at a media conference that “immediate measures have been put in place to increase security” and that there would be “further analysis on the overall security posture and technology that we have in place.”
Well, good. But it raises questions the RCMP will need to answer, such as: What went wrong in the first place that a person could smash an unauthorized truck onto the grounds like that? Why was the first alarm raised by NCC workers — who presumably aren’t security folks — and not by trained protective staff? Why did it take almost 15 minutes before the RCMP spotted him?
In the wake of past security threats to various prime ministers, at a time when Canadians are extra-anxious because of the impacts of COVID-19, and in an era of mass protest and grievance across the country, you might think there would be a robust plan already. (It might even start with not having the PM and the GG effectively occupying the same address … )
There are so many questions. The RCMP owes all Canadians more answers.