Canada Parliament to merge security forces after gunman attack

Tue Nov 25, 2014 5:35pm EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's two houses of Parliament will merge their security forces after an attack by a gunman last month, officials said on Tuesday, a move aimed at addressing long-standing communications problems.

Four different services share responsibility for security on Parliament Hill and in 2012 the Auditor General - Canada's senior watchdog - urged the creation of a single force to eliminate confusion over jurisdictions.

The House of Commons and the Senate both have their own security forces, which will now be merged.

"Today's agreement on unification of the forces is a crucial step towards achieving the improvements required of an open and secure Parliament," House of Commons speaker Andrew Scheer said in a statement.

As well as the Senate and House of Commons security forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ottawa Police also both operate on and around Parliament Hill. The four services do not share a single radio frequency.

A spokeswoman for Scheer was not able to say whether the RCMP and Ottawa police units operating on Parliament Hill would be combined with the new united security service.

Last month, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed a soldier before running into Parliament's Center Block, home to both the Senate and House of Commons. He was shot dead by security forces, but questions have been raised about how he was able to make it so far into the building while carrying a rifle.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Jonathan Oatis)