Skip to main content

The Hall of Honour leading to the Parliamentary Library (far end) is pictured on Thursday October 23, 2014 in Ottawa.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

House of Commons guards will soon all carry guns, and eventually be merged with Senate security in response to last month's shooting on Parliament Hill.

The move to arm the guards was revealed during a committee appearance on Thursday by House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer, Sergeant-At-Arms Kevin Vickers and other House officials.

Arming the House of Commons guards is one of several changes being made after the Oct. 22 attack on Parliament Hill. The shooting happened on a Wednesday, when party caucuses hold weekly meetings during sessions of Parliament.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Scheer told a committee on Thursday that tours of the main Parliament building have been suspended during caucus meetings; more RCMP officers have been added to security outside the building; fewer people are being allowed on each tour; more doors are being locked outside of business hours; and MPs have been offered funds to make security upgrades to constituency offices outside Ottawa.

The plan to merge the House of Commons and Senate security forces was announced earlier this week.

Previously, only some House of Commons guards carried guns. Now all will, although it is unclear when training will be completed and the new policy fully in place. A spokeswoman for Mr. Scheer declined to provide further details on the security plan.

The Senate decided in June to "deploy armed, uniformed personnel within the Senate precinct in the coming months," but it is not known how many of its guards are currently armed or whether all will have weapons after the two teams merge. A spokeswoman for the Senate said she could "not comment on the number of guards that will carry guns."

Meanwhile, security reviews are ongoing and other changes may be made, Mr. Scheer said, calling it an "incremental approach."

"From those reviews and from those analyses, it will spark more conversations about the best way to move forward," he said.

Arming House of Commons guards required firearms training, and boosted overtime claims as guards juggled training and their regular jobs, the committee of MPs heard on Thursday.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Vickers brushed aside questions of overlap among the security forces in and around Parliament Hill – House of Commons and Senate security work inside the building, the RCMP handle the grounds, and the Ottawa Police are responsible for the downtown core. On the day of the Oct. 22 shooting, Patrick McDonell, the director-general of security services and deputy sergeant-at-arms, worked closely with the Ottawa Police and RCMP to co-ordinate the response, Mr. Vickers told MPs. He said such co-ordination has been used more frequently in emergencies.

"Instead of that old question [of] 'Who is in charge,' that is now shifting to a management cell, an emergency management cell, where you have the police leaders of each respective agency in a cell, working together, being able to respond," Mr. Vickers said.

The unification of House of Commons and Senate security may save money, but other improvements could raise the $22-million security budget for Parliament, Mr. Scheer said on Thursday.

Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski, who has sat on the committee since 2006, said the move to unify the security teams was welcome but overdue.

"The concept of unification and security has been one that this committee has embraced for all of that time" since 2006, Mr. Lukiwski said during the meeting. "It has never happened until now. Unfortunately, it took such an incident as Oct. 22, I guess, to get us to that point. But it's certainly a move in the right direction. I think it's the right thing to do."

Mental health services remain available to guards in the aftermath of the shooting, said Mr. Vickers, who was hailed for his role in the security response that ended the attack. "However, I am sure that our members are in good health, and if they need anything, everything is available to them," Mr. Vickers said.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter