Award Ceremony Leads To Bitter Fight Between RCMP And Parliament Hill Security

Video: RCMP accused or re-writing history of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau Attack

By Red Power Media, Staff

RCMP accused of rewriting history of Parliament Hill attack

A bitter fight flared up between the RCMP and Parliament Hill security guards over a ceremony meant to honour those who showed bravery during last year’s deadly attack on the parliamentary precinct.

Roch Lapensee, president of the Security Services Employees Association (SSEA) that represents House of Commons security guards, wrote an angry letter to RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson expressing shock at what he sees as an inaccurate account of the events of Oct. 22, 2014.

Union representing guards objects to being called ‘civilians’

The RCMP this week issued a news release to announce a private ceremony would be held later this month to award commendations to more than a dozen officers and six House of Commons security guards. In his letter, Lapensee tells Paulson he is astonished the RCMP news release refers to the Commons security guards as “civilians” when their job is to protect Parliament.

“Our members are the clearly identified face of peace and security in Parliament,” adding the guards are exposed and targeted more than regular RCMP officers.

Lapensee also accused the RCMP of rewriting history. He says the force claims it’s honouring the six security guards because they helped the RCMP end last year’s attack, when he says it was Parliament Hill security personnel who took the lead in tracking down and stopping the gunman, after the Mounties failed to stop him outside the Parliament buildings.

Lapensee called it “an erroneous and dishonest revision of the facts” and an insult to the courage of the men and women who stopped the attack.

The gunman, widely-identified as Muslim convert Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, killed a soldier at the Canadian National War Memorial before entering the legislature’s Hall of Honour. 

Sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers allegedly led the charge and in a flurry of gunfire Bibeau was shot dead.

Canadian MPs were quick to hail Vickers for his role in stopping the attacker.

Lapensee demanded the RCMP retract its news release and issue a new one that’s in keeping with the facts.

If the Mounties fail to do so, Lapensee said in his letter, he would urge guards to boycott the awards ceremony.

RCMP tweaks statement, defuses feud

A reworded news release appears to have ended an argument between the RCMP and the union representing Parliament Hill security guards.

The RCMP acknowledged the mistake, rewrote the release and said the error stemmed from the fact that it has two categories of bravery commendations — one for its own members and one for civilians.

“There was no intent to devalue the bravery and extraordinary work,” the Mounties said.

The SSEA said it was satisfied with the change in a brief statement on Wednesday.

The private ceremony will be held Nov. 23 at RCMP headquarters in Ottawa.

Simmering tension between Hill security and the RCMP

There has been simmering tension between Hill security and the RCMP in the wake of last year’s attack. Guards have been upset ever since the federal government announced in February that the RCMP would take command of all security on Parliament Hill under a new joint Parliamentary Protective Service.

The Mounties’ response to the Oct. 22 attack has come under scrutiny. A report by the Ontario Provincial Police in March found what it called “deficiencies in training, pre-incident planning and equipment” by the Mounties in the lead-up to the attack.

The OPP report detailed how RCMP officers hesitated at the doors of Parliament due to directives to never enter the building armed. The report, however, did recommend that RCMP officers who responded to the incident should be commended for their actions.