EDMONTON—MLAs were solemn as the Alberta legislature continued government business Monday evening, hours after a person died by suicide on the building’s front steps.
The house reconvened at 7:30 p.m., about four hours after it was adjourned due to a security incident “involving a fiream,” according to an internal statement by Speaker Nathan Cooper. Security personnel told reporters a person died by suicide on the legislature’s front steps shortly after 3 p.m. on Monday afternoon.
Edmonton-Glenora MLA Sarah Hoffman acknowledged what she called a “public, tragic loss of life,” before delivering remarks on the affordability of post-secondary education and healthcare in the province.
Hoffman added she wanted to acknowledge “the trauma that happened here today and recognize all the people that have been impacted by it, including many who were in this building.”
News broke of the incident earlier in the day at around 3 p.m., as UCP MLA Dan Williams rose in the house to speak in favour of Bill 207, a private member’s bill that he tabled aimed at protecting the conscience rights of Alberta’s health care providers who object to providing certain medical procedures on the basis of moral or religious obligations.
The house was set to debate whether or not to accept a committee recommendation that Bill 207 should not move forward. However, Cooper interrupted Williams and announced he needed to clear the chamber to privately brief members on a security issue.
An internal statement from Cooper to members of the legislature and employees said, “there is no danger to anyone else on scene and the matter has been contained by security and the Edmonton Police Service.”
At about 3:30 p.m., the body, located two steps from the bottom of the front stairs, was covered by a pink blanket. An hour later, police loaded the body into a Dodge Caravan operated by Capital Transfer Services, a private company that works with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Premier Jason Kenney said he was saddened to hear of the incident in a tweet on Monday afternoon. He is currently in Toronto to attend a Council of the Federation meeting with premiers from across the country.
“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family & loved ones,” his post read.
Official Opposition Leader Rachel Notley also offered her condolences.
“My deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of the individual involved in today’s tragic incident,” she wrote in a Twitter post on Monday afternoon.
Strips of bright yellow police tape cordoned off the Alberta legislature’s entrance, while a dozen police officers and several police cars remained at the scene.
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An Edmonton Police Service spokesperson declined to provide additional details, calling it a “non-criminal incident.”
With files from Brennan Doherty
If you are considering suicide, there is help. Find a list of local crisis centres at the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. Or call 911 or in Alberta, call Health Link at 811 or the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.