Canada to speed up plans to toughen security laws

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a nationally televised address on CBC in this still image taken from video in Ottawa on Oct 22, 2014. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday the government will expedite plans
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a nationally televised address on CBC in this still image taken from video in Ottawa on Oct 22, 2014. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday the government will expedite plans to give more powers of detention and surveillance to security agencies in the wake of an attack on Parliament. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

OTTAWA (Reuters, AFP) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday the government will expedite plans to give more powers of detention and surveillance to security agencies in the wake of an attack on Parliament.

"They need to be much strengthened, and I assure you, Mr Speaker, that work which is already under way will be expedited," he told the House of Commons, one day after a gunman launched an attack on Parliament and was shot dead.

Canada's parliament gave a hero's welcome to Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers when it re-opened. Vickers had on Wednesday put aside his ceremonial duties to draw a gun and take down the assailant.

Applause rang out for the guardian of the cradle of Canada's democracy - who bears the assembly's ceremonial mace - followed by a prayer, the national anthem, a moment of silence.

"The objective of these attacks was to instill fear and panic in our country and to interrupt the business of government," Harper said in the Commons.

"Well, members, as I said yesterday, Canadians will not be intimidated.

"We will be vigilant but we will not run scared. We will be prudent but we will not panic and as for the business of government, well, here we are, in our seats, in our chamber in the very heart of our democracy and our work."

Harper then crossed the floor of the Commons to shake Vickers' hand, and hug opposition leaders.

On Wednesday, a man shot and killed a Canadian soldier who was mounting a ceremonial guard at a war memorial in downtown Ottawa before storming into the nearby parliament building.

Shots rang out as he rampaged through the halls of the building, and Vickers has been credited with taking him down.