Ottawa under lockdown

The trip was meant to be quick and celebratory: A night at a Canadian Medical Association gala recognizing our team’s work – in this case, for a piece dissecting vaccination rates by Toronto school – then back to Toronto, with a quick stop in between to meet Ottawa contacts.

Instead, as I prepared to check out of my hotel Wednesday, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot up the War Memorial, then Parliament’s Centre Block – shooting Cpl. Nathan Cirillo to death before being fatally shot himself.

The rest of the week was a blur.

I spent hours at a police blockade near the War Memorial amid the uncertainty around the possible existence of a second gunman.

I wrote about a shaken population, ridden with rumours but willing itself to push forward.

And I was part of what felt like a national scramble for news when there was little to be had, and even less certainty around the events of a fateful few minutes. More than anything it reminded me how dangerous the hive mind of journalists, power brokers and consumers of news can be during scary breaking news – and how tough it can be to break out of that and report with a more critical eye.

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