Kevin Vickers, the national hero who brought the October 22 attack on Canada’s House of Commons to an end, has been named the new Canadian Ambassador to Ireland.
Vickers, 58, is a proud Irish Canadian and comes from a big Irish Catholic family in Miramichi, the New Brunswick town that calls itself “Canada’s Irish Capital” and hosts the country’s largest Irish festival each year.
He has held the position of Sergeant at Arms of the Canadian House of Commons for nine years, overseeing the security of the parliament and the safety of those who work there. When the lone gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau forced his way in to the House of Commons, killing one reservist and injuring another, Vickers exchanged fatal fire with him.
The following day, he received a two minute standing ovation as the Canadian Parliament opened its first session after the attack, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper concluded his address by thanking Vickers for his bravery and crossing the room to shake his hand. Widely hailed as a hero, Vickers has modestly avoided the limelight and credited his entire security team with quelling the violent attack.
At the time, Ireland’s Ambassador to Canada Dr. Ray Bassett described Vickers as “a real old fashioned cop from a large Irish Catholic family” and called him “a great friend to the embassy and to Ireland, and a hell of a decent guy,” always happy to take Irish visitors to Ottawa on a tour of the parliament buildings, pointing out shamrock engravings and other details anyone else might skip over.
Yesterday, Ambassador Bassett shared that he was “personally and professionally delighted with Kevin's appointment. I have no doubt that I will work very closely with him especially on immigration issues.”
He noted Vickers’ “deep love for Ireland” and his family’s “heavy involvement in the Miramichi Irish Festival. They have retained their Irishness through several generations in Canada.”
Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs confirmed the news and said that he thought Vickers would make “an excellent ambassador.”
Canada has been without an Ambassador to Ireland since August, when Vickers’ predecessor Loyola Hearn, a former Canadian cabinet minister, left Dublin.
With his long and distinguished career in security and community relations, it seems that Vickers will be well suited to his new role. According to his bio, throughout his 29 years with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Vickers provided security for VIPs including The Queen and Prince Andrew. He also served as an Aide-de-Camp for the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick. He has received a number of honors, including the Queen's Jubilee Medal and the Canada 125 Medal, and has been recognized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency for his "Outstanding Contribution to Drug Enforcement."
He has also been lauded for his smart, compassionate and effective work as a police inspector, assigned to some of Canada’s most high profile and delicate cases, including homicides, national criminal investigations, international drug importations and a national investigation into the safety of Canada's blood supply. As the RCMP lead in the early development of its "Bias Free Policing" policies, Vickers worked extensively reaching out to the leadership of Canada's Muslim community.