OTTAWA — The man hailed as a hero for stopping an attack on Parliament Hill has been named Canadian ambassador to Ireland.
But in characteristic fashion, Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers remains humble about the appointment.
The 58-year-old is credited with killing a man who’d stormed into Centre Block in October after killing a soldier at the National War Memorial.
The next day, Vickers was greeted by an impromptu honour guard of MPs and Parliament Hill staff as he led the daily procession back into the House of Commons, where he was given a lengthy standing ovation.
He’s since gone on to be honoured by world leaders and the international media.
Vickers has never spoken at length about the day.
In a statement, he said he is sad to leave his colleagues and friends on Parliament Hill.
“As a Canadian with family on both sides hailing from Ireland, there could be no greater honour,” he said of his appointment.
“I am humbled by the invitation to serve my country in this way.”
Vickers is an Irish-Canadian from New Brunswick who had a lengthy career in the RCMP before joining the House of Commons security staff in 2005 and becoming sergeant-at-arms in 2006.
“Kevin Vickers has shown profound leadership and dedication to the security of Canada and its national institutions,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement making the announcement Thursday.
“His extensive experience working with Parliament, as well as his bravery and integrity, will serve to deepen close bilateral relations between Canada and Ireland in the years ahead.”
NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar said Vickers will be missed on Parliament Hill:
“For the last eight years, Mr. Vickers has been a strong and reassuring presence in the House of Commons. I know that he will continue to represent Canada with poise and honour as a diplomat.”
Vickers will replace Loyola Hearn, a former Conservative MP and cabinet minister who was appointed to the position in 2010.
In his statement, Vickers thanked Canadians for the support they have given him.
“You have my word that I will do my best to represent you in Ireland with pride and dignity.”
The Speaker of the House of Commons said deputy sergeant-at-arms Pat McDonell will handle security for the time being.
“Kevin Vickers has built a remarkable security team that does us proud each and every day,” Andrew Scheer said in a statement.
“He has forged personal connections with many parliamentarians, and so while this news is welcomed as an excellent recognition of his skills and abilities, we are somewhat sad to see him leave.”