However, the impact of this week's attacks, and one so close to the heart of Canadian political power, has prompted a big debate. Three big questions are part of the debate.
Is Canada equipped to handle such terror threats?
In both attacks this week, soldiers were targeted and killed by suspects whom Canadian authorities had barred from traveling abroad. According to the Globe and Mail, the man authorities identified as the shooter on Wednesday, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, had been classified as a "high-risk traveler," which thwarted his reported plans to travel to Libya and learn Arabic. Martin Couture-Rouleau, the Canadian accused in the hit-and-run, had on social media expressed support for extremist groups such as the Islamic State.
Given that both men were apparently known to authorities, it is tempting to ask why more couldn't have been done to stop them. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done. Both men appear to have acted as "lone wolves," operating without coordination with other groups, which would have made their attacks hard to predict and prevent.
What's worrying for Canada is that there are probably other potential extremists out there who could do something similar. And while Canadian police officers are armed, places such as Ottawa's Parliament are remarkably open to the public, and thus open to intruders. On Thursday, Harper pledged to speed up laws to give police more powers in "surveillance, detention and arrest."
Did Canada's gun laws contribute to Wednesday's attack?
For some Americans, the fact that the relatively gun-free Canada had a gun-related incident is a sign that gun control doesn't work. In Canada, however, the debate may be more nuanced: Many of the country's gun laws are shaped by another public shooting, the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique massacre, in which a 25-year-old man shot dead 14 women with a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle. It's possible that in the coming days the focus on gun-control legislation will return.
A representative of Canada's Coalition for Gun Control was hesitant to speak about how the gun-control debate might change after the Ottawa shooting until more information came out. However, the representative did note that gun control laws had been weakened since 2012 and that the Canadian Parliament had been due to debate another law that would liberalize gun control in the country when the shooting occurred.
Did Canada's foreign policy cause this?
In a widely read (and widely maligned) article written after Monday's attack for First Look, Glenn Greenwald argued that terror attacks on Canada were the logical conclusion to its 12 years of involvement in the war on terror and its 2001 intervention in the Afghanistan war. While Greenwald's article was accused of justifying terrorism for some, it's hard to ignore that both attacks occurred just weeks after Canada voted to join airstrikes against the Islamic State.
“Some aspects of Canadian foreign policy, such as our Iraq deployment, likely contributed to the Saint-Jean incident and may well have contributed to the events in Ottawa,” Rex Brynen, a professor of political science at McGill University, told Bloomberg News, referring to the hit-and-run. “I would be 100 percent certain that the government’s own risk assessment said that this was going to make us more of a target. That was simply part of the price for doing business.”
Of course, it would be uncomfortable to imagine that terror attacks such as these could prompt a change in policy from Canada — it'd give terrorists a clear reason for more attacks, for one thing. But the evidence suggests that is unlikely. The threat of terror has not dissuaded the United States or other nations from fighting Islamist extremists abroad, and while Canada has a strong opposition movement, its arguments are more complex than a simple fear of terror.