OTTAWA – The first Remembrance Day ceremony in the nation’s capital since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was briefly overshadowed Thursday by the discovery of a suspicious package near the case, delaying the arrival of top officials.
A spokesman for the RCMP told Star that the package was found near the ceremony, which was held at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa. RCMP officers considered the package unsuspecting and it was cleared minutes later.
The incident led to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, arriving at the ceremony about 10 minutes later than planned – and just minutes before the Peace Tower’s bells rang.
Governor-General Mary May Simon, who marked her first day of remembrance since her appointment as deputy governor, was delayed by more than 10 minutes. Simon arrived after the bells rang and near the end of the moment of silence, which is observed to honor those who have served and continue to serve in the Canadian military.
A statement from Veterans Secretary Lawrence MacAulay’s office said the issue was “quickly resolved” ahead of the ceremony and that the case was able to proceed after a brief delay.
Before the nature of the incident became known, both Trudeau and May Simon’s late arrivals received criticism on social media.
While Thursday morning’s incident did not prove to be a problem, the location of the ceremony has previously been the site of tragedy.
In 2014, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shot down while on guard duty at the National War Memorial, the day Parliament Hill was attacked.
The attack led to increased security across the parliamentary area, including the establishment of a police presence at the monument to protect sentries guarding the site.