Parliament security investigating after police charge woman for attempting to steal idling car
October 2014 shooting rampage also involved theft of vehicle near Centre Block, but Ottawa police said Wednesday's incident posed no public threat
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Parliament Hill authorities are looking into why a car was left idling outside of Centre Block, allowing a stranger to jump in and drive off Monday.
The incident took place after a thorough revamp of security procedures in the wake of gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau’s attack in October 2014, during which he carjacked a minister’s vehicle and burst into Centre Block with a hunting rifle.
On Monday, Ottawa police charged a 27-year-old Ottawa woman and referred her for a mental health assessment. They believe she stole a taxi, which she left in front of the Hill around 3:30 p.m., before walking up to Centre Block.
She then told Parliamentary Protective Service officers she was an employee, but they turned her away because she lacked identification, according to agency spokeswoman Melissa Rusk.
Ottawa police say the woman then jumped into an empty, idling car and drove it toward an exit, where RCMP officers stopped and arrested her.
The PPS and the Senate Speaker’s office both refused to say who owned the vehicle and if they will be reprimanded, telling Metro the PPS is still investigating the incident.
“The issue was identified. But it’s an operational matter,” said Victoria Deng, spokeswoman for the Senate Speaker’s office. “For security reasons, I’m not going to get into the nature of the vehicle.”
Rusk said the PPS has no rules for how vehicles should operate in the parliamentary precinct. Instead, taxi drivers, construction workers and House and Senate staffers all follow their employers’ guidelines. “We’re responsible for just the physical security on the ground,” she said.
Ottawa police say the unarmed woman was charged vehicle theft, theft under $5,000 and a Traffic Act offence. They believe there was no threat to public safety. The parliamentary precinct has been quieter, with both houses on break this week.