Yesterday’s extraordinary fire fight in the Canadian Parliament brought together two men from quite different backgrounds. On one side was 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who raised his arms in delight having shot an unarmed solider at point blank range. The other was 58-year-old Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers, who led a team to hunt and kill the terrorist.
Outside the Prime Minister’s office, as MPs cowered in fear, Vickers personally gunned down Zehaf-Bibeau. Unlike the terrorist, Vickers did not celebrate his kill in anyway, he instead returned to his post in an effort to re-establish security in the heart of his nation.
Whilst Vickers’s brother released a statement on Twitter noting his siblings bravery the Sergeant was briefing police on how they were going to neutralise any further threats. This was a typically selfless act from a career public servant with a track record of putting his country before himself.
He spent 29 years in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and is a highly experienced law enforcer who would have had little thought for the dangers of leading a team to hunt and kill his terrorist opponent. In contrast, Zehaf-Bibeau’s background is similar to that of so many other Islamic terrorists, having given up a career of petty crime and drug abuse to convert.
His mother Susan is the chairman of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, which assesses whether asylum applicants should be allowed into the country. Ironically his bizarre antics and fanaticism had left him unable to leave Canada due to the removal of his passport. He had wanted to fight jihad abroad but the travel ban made that impossible.
Despite his privileged upbringing Zehaf-Bibeau was too lazy to get a proper job and first came to the attention of police in 2004 when he was charged with possession of Marijuana. Over the years that followed he spent his time in and out of prison, on one occasion he was convicted of robbery and another actual bodily harm.
It was during this period that Vickers was appointed Sergeant At Arms, having risen to the rank of Chief Superintendent in the Mounties. As a Police Officer his most notable role was as peace keeper during the Burnt Church Fishing Crisis in 1999. The dispute revolved around claims of fishing rights by both native and non-native communities in Nova Scotia.
As a senior officer Vickers broke with the usual protocol and turned up to meetings without the usual entourage of junior officers. He also learned the names of all the key players on both sides, and was said to have been held in the “highest regards” by all sides in the dispute.
Once Vickers was appointed Sergeant he undertook the usual work of maintaining security in the building. He also was the lead security official on a number of Royal visits. Whereas on at least one occasion public authorities questioned whether Zehaf-Bibeau was sufficiently sane to stand trial for yet another misdemeanour.
Yesterday brought together the best and worst of Canadian society. On the one side was the lazy and self indulgent and on the other was the hard-working dedicated patriot. Zehaf-Bibeau may have found it easy to shoot an unarmed soldier at the National War Memorial, but when he was faced with Vickers he stood no chance.
Vickers is now likely to be Knighted by HM The Queen for bravery, whereas the carcass of Zehaf-Bibeau will quickly be forgotten.