On Parliament Hill: A staffer’s perspective of Ottawa attack

Danielle MacDonald was working in the Justice Building getting ready to brief the Liberal caucus on bill C-42, the Common Sense Firearms Act when it all began. As the Liberal staffer was about to get into the elevator, her boss, Malpeque MP Wayne Easter, was coming back up the elevator and sent her back towards the office.

MacDonald immediately turned up the volume on the TV to find out Parliament Hill was under attack.

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The view outside the Center Block during the lockdown. (Twitter)

“Next thing you know we have a security guard in our office clearing the room, making sure there is no suspect here,” she said.

After that, many constituents called the office to check on the staff and make sure everyone was alright, said MacDonald.

While MacDonald and many others on Parliament Hill were in lockdown, police were chasing the suspect through the Hall of Honour on Wednesday morning. The suspect ended up being fatally shot in the Hall of Honour, which runs between the Library of Parliament and Confederation Hall.

MacDonald walks that hall daily while working.

“I don’t think any of us are going to be able to walk through there without thinking or remembering the tragic events that occurred today,” said MacDonald.

According to MacDonald, a lot of staffers on Parliament Hill are confused as to how the gunman even got through the front door.

“Everyday I walk through that door and there is a security guard that meets me there to make sure my badge is showing, to make sure that my face matches the picture on the badge,” said MacDonald. “But he [the gunman] must have been pushing some force because they are good at their jobs, they are very aware, and there are officers always carrying guns in that lobby where he walked through.”

MacDonald also wonders how the gunman got that far up Parliament Hill with all of the security throughout the building.

“You pass at least two RCMP cars and a number of security and then the front door. There’s at least five security [guards] standing in that foyer before you even get to that hallway where he was engaged in gunfire.”

MacDonald said if the gunman had gotten into either of the caucus rooms, it could have been much worse.

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A photo from inside one of the two Caucus rooms, during the lockdown. (Twitter)

“Every single MP was in that building. Those are not overly secure doors, those are just two doors that are soundproof,” said MacDonald.

Public safety has been a concern for weeks. The Public Safety committee had been working to make legislative changes to adapt our national security. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney was supposed to present legislation that would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service more power Wednesday morning until the attack happened.

Despite the way things unfolded on Wednesday in Ottawa, MacDonald felt like things were under control and that she was safe.

“We had an exceptional team and response from security. We had information coming through our emails to keep us informed, we had the assurance of security guards in the building who knew what they were talking about,” she said. “None of us for a minute felt unsafe. We knew there was a threat and we knew that it was being handled. It was good to be able to feel that way.”

Moving forward, MacDonald is hoping Canadians react well to whatever information comes forward about the gunman.

“We want Canada to remain a diverse and loving nation. We don’t want people to be suspect of their neighbors. We need to get to the bottom of this and we need to start learning about this reality in our country.”

 

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