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Ottawa police officers, with Parliament Hill in the background, guard the area around the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa October 23, 2014.

BLAIR GABLE/Reuters

The RCMP immediately increased security on Parliament Hill after Wednesday's shooting attack and a host of further changes are now on the table for the precinct, including whether to arm all security guards and restrict pedestrian access to the grounds.

All four security teams responsible for securing Parliament Hill are reviewing details of how a man with a rifle gained entry to the Centre Block and will be recommending changes after that review. Some measures, including an increased RCMP presence on the grounds and heightened security for the Prime Minister, were enacted immediately.

Members of Parliament, still shaken from the day before, accepted the need for new measures but also expressed hope that the Hill grounds will remain a national gathering place for Canadians.

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The large grassy area in front of Parliament's Centre Block is a popular meeting spot for Canada Day concerts, political protesters of all kinds and even a large weekly gathering of yoga enthusiasts.

While the House of Commons and the Senate met as usual Thursday, the Parliament grounds and buildings remained temporarily off limits to the public.

That still represented a significant de-escalation of security from Wednesday evening, when police cordoned off a large part of downtown Ottawa after the shooting.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay said it is important to gather all of the facts before deciding on a security response.

"We're not talking about closing off the Hill. We're talking about ways in which we can ensure greater security and greater co-operation, which I think is one of the most important things that we have to do," Mr. MacKay told reporters Thursday morning.

While some security guards working inside the Parliament buildings are allowed to carry weapons, not all are armed. Mr. MacKay said that is one area that will be examined. He also said physical changes to the precinct may be required. House of Commons security policy is ultimately under the jurisdiction of an all-party committee called the Board of Internal Economy.

A 2012 report by Auditor-General Michael Ferguson called for a unified security force on Parliament Hill – a recommendation that was not acted upon. Instead four separate security forces have responsibility for some aspect of parliamentary security.

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A House of Commons team protects MPs and their offices while a Senate security team is responsible for senators, even though MPs and senators both use the main Centre Block building as well as other parliamentary facilities.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is responsible for security on the grounds of Parliament Hill, while the Ottawa Police are in charge of all areas just outside Parliament Hill.

Had the shooter turned right or left shortly after entering the front doors of Centre Block, he would have entered meetings of either the Conservative or NDP caucus. Instead, he went straight and was shot dead outside the doors of the Parliamentary Library.

When asked Thursday at a news conference whether Prime Minister Stephen Harper was unguarded at the time of the shooting, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson declined to answer directly. However he said protection has now been enhanced.

"One of the things that's at stake in this penetration of the security provisions on the Hill [is that] I can tell you that now we've adopted a condition where we will stay with the Prime Minister in the Prime Minister's protective detail, 24/7, no matter where he is," Mr. Paulson said.

The RCMP provided video evidence showing it took one minute and 20 seconds for the shooter to make it from Wellington Street to the Centre Block.

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"The security picture on Parliament Hill needs to be evaluated," Mr. Paulson said.

At the same news conference, Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said there may be a need to review how pedestrians can access the Hill.

"We certainly see some vulnerabilities with respect to pedestrians accessing the Hill and that's certainly, I think, something that will be reviewed," said Chief Bordeleau.

Security has increased gradually on Parliament Hill over the years. Only approved vehicles that have been cleared at a security hangar are allowed on the Hill and new posts were recently set up to block vehicle access the Hill through other entrances.

House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer said he has asked security officials to provide a detailed report to the board on Wednesday's events. Mr. Scheer said the decision to close Parliament Hill to visitors must be a temporary measure.

"Parliament must remain an institution that is both open and secure," he told MPs.

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Conservative MP Steven Fletcher said Thursday he hopes the response isn't too restrictive.

"It's an amazing feat that we've been able to keep them so accessible," he said. "Now we're going to have to re-evaluate that, and hopefully we can find the balance between freedom of access to the properties and making sure that we're all safe."

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