TORONTO - Security concerns remained high at the Ontario legislature Thursday, one day after a gunman attacked Parliament Hill, with talk of wider user of metal detectors but still no plan to arm security officers.
Members of the legislature began the day with an emotional singing of O Canada, requested by Ottawa-area MPP Lisa MacLeod, before they launched into security issues during question period.
"There are several of us here from the nation's capital and we are reminded that we are, in Ottawa, the guardians of every Canadian's second hometown," said MacLeod.
Interim Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Wilson said he "doesn't feel particularly safe" at Queen's Park, and hasn't since armed police were removed from the legislature in 1997.
Wilson said he talked to a half dozen legislative security officers during the height of lockdown in Ottawa Wednesday, and they told him they want guns.
"You know if somebody comes running up the steps with a gun, these guys have a baton and a set of handcuffs," he said. "I don't mean being armed to the nines, but a nine millimetre around here wouldn't be a bad idea."
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government would have to strike "a delicate balance" between security concerns and keeping the legislature open for the public.
"We need to do everything we can to keep people safe, while at the same time recognizing that we have to function and we have to allow the people of Ontario access to their public Parliament building," said Horwath.
"I don't believe that it's necessary to arm everybody to the nines, and to have a situation where people don't feel comfortable because there's such a level of security that the building becomes inaccessible."
Speaker Dave Levac said there was no talk about arming legislative security officers at the last review, and admitted he was disappointed they did not agree to make everyone entering the building go through a metal detector.
Currently, only people without passes who wish to enter the legislative chamber have to go through a metal detector before entering the public galleries.
"All of that will be taken into consideration during any reviews that we consistently do to ensure that this place is still the bed of freedom, and (ensure) accessibility for people in a way that security is still not compromised," Levac told reporters. "We have to make sure we don't shut democracy down for the sake of security."
Premier Kathleen Wynne said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP are sharing information with the Ontario Provincial Police and with local police forces about possible threats to government buildings.
"We want Ontarians to know that our police and our paramedics and firefighters are trained and are prepared for any eventuality," Wynne told the legislature.
Members of the legislature unanimously agreed to a request from Hamilton New Democrat Paul Miller to set up a book of condolence at Queen's Park for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was shot and killed at the National War Memorial by the same gunman that later attacked the Parliament.
"We are grateful for the brave men and women, like Corporal Cirillo, who give their lives in service to our country," said Miller.
Later in the day, Wynne visited the Hamilton armoury where Cirillo trained and where a memorial continues to grow in his memory.
An emotional Wynne said officials told her that Cirillo was "a fine young man."
"I want the family to know how much we respect their son, their father, their brother, and how grateful we are that people like Nathan sign up and take on these roles, and in this moment particularly what Nathan did," Wynne said.
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