US Secretary of State Kerry visits Ottawa

John Kerry, John Baird, Charles J. Cassidy

Visit shows solidarity between Canada, United States

By Patrick Vaillancourt, Senior Columnist

United States Secretary of State John Kerry visited Ottawa last week, the first senior US official to travel to the nation’s capital after the horrific attacks that left two Canadian soldiers dead.

Kerry first met with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and laid a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, the site where Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot and killed by a lone gunman, who later stormed Parliament Hill.

Kerry said that the attacks in Quebec and Ottawa are reminiscent of the attack last year in his own hometown, when two bombs were set off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. He offered condolences on behalf of the American people and praised Canadians for coming together.

“In the past week, the world has been witness to Canada’s strength. To your unity, your courage, your resolve,” Kerry told reporters in Ottawa.

Kerry went on to say that Canada would always have a friend in the United States.

Kerry also met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a select group of Members of Parliament for bilateral talks on climate change, the intervention against ISIS in Iraq, and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project.

Kerry’s visit coincided with the funeral of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, the soldier who was shot and killed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier inside the National War Memorial. The regimental funeral was held in Corporal Cirillo’s hometown of Hamilton, Ontario and was attended by family, friends, military persons, as well as thousands of onlookers. Prime Minister Harper was also in attendance, and spoke of how proud he was of Canada’s armed forces.

“For as long as these ideals have been the foundation of our country, it has been our men and women in uniform who have been in the end, their ultimate guardians,” Harper said.

Harper went on to explain that, for members of the Armed Forces, being tasked with standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa is one of the military’s most-sought-after assignments.

Many have questioned the motives of the Ottawa gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. RCMP investigators have since retrieved a video left behind by Zehaf-Bibeau, which is said to contain “evidence” that the shooting was “driven by political and ideological motives.” The video is still being analyzed, but RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said he hoped Canadians would see the video “someday.”

An online fund has been established to help support the families of Corporal Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was killed in a separate attack in Quebec. Donations will be distributed equally between the two families, and it hopes to raise $750,000.