OTTAWA — A member of the Canadian Armed Forces has been arrested after someone rammed a truck through the gates of Rideau Hall and drove up the path toward the official residences that house Gov. Gen. Julie Payette and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before being stopped by police.
The RCMP has not identified the man, who was arrested shortly after a vehicle broke through the gates around 6:40 a.m. local time Thursday. The Mounties said in a statement that the truck was disabled on impact with the gate, which is known as Thomas Gate.
“While an RCMP member began dialogue with the suspect, the RCMP National Division Emergency Response Team was also dispatched and arrived shortly after 7 a.m.,” the RCMP said in a statement.
“The armed suspect was apprehended shortly before 8:30 a.m. without any incident and he was brought into police custody for questioning. As a precaution, the (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives response) team was also deployed to search and secure the suspect’s vehicle.”
The RCMP did not identify the individual arrested near Rideau Hall, but both the police force and the Department of National Defence confirmed he is a member of the military. The Mounties say charges are pending.
“The Canadian Armed Forces is collaborating closely with the RCMP,” the Defence Department said in its statement Thursday. “As the RCMP is the lead investigative body for this matter, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.”
The RCMP have not provided a motive for Thursday’s incident, but have said that neither Payette nor Trudeau were present at the time.
The iconic Rideau Hall has long served as the home to Canada’s governors general.
Trudeau and his family have also lived in Rideau Cottage, which is located on the grounds of Rideau Hall, since he became prime minister. The government is still working on whether to renovate 24 Sussex Dr., where past prime ministers have lived.
”Thanks to the swift and diligent actions of our employees, the incident that unfolded earlier this morning on the grounds of Rideau Hall was quickly and safely resolved,” said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Bernadine Chapman, commanding officer of National Division.
The Office of the Secretary to the Governor General issued a statement Thursday to thank the RCMP and police for resolving the situation quickly.
“All of our staff are safe,” said the statement.
The statement also noted that Payette has only occasionally been at Rideau Hall during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Given the number of staff required to support Her Excellency when she is on the grounds of Rideau Hall, during the pandemic she has chosen to prioritize the health and safety of the employees of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General by only being there when Constitutional duties require, such as Royal Assent,” the statement said.
“Prior to the pandemic, the Governor General was living on the grounds of Rideau Hall.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2020.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press