- A week before the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act, police in downtown Ottawa identified the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protest as a national security threat.
- The Ontario Provincial Police commissioner did not elaborate on the national security threat identified on February 7.
According to the OPP commissioner, the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protest in downtown Ottawa was identified as a national security threat by police a week before the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act.
“On or about February 7, we did recognize it as a threat to national security via the provincial operation intelligence bureau,” Thomas Carrique told a parliamentary committee.
On February 14, more than two weeks after the occupation of downtown Ottawa in protest of COVID-19 public health rules as well as other government measures, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act.
Carrique and interim Ottawa police chief Steve Bell testified in front of the House of Commons public safety as well as national security committee, which is hearings on the three-week occupation.
The commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police did not elaborate on the nature of the national security threat identified on February 7. However, he did say that police intelligence, led by the OPP, began tracking the protest movement on January 13, two weeks before it arrived in Ottawa.
On the other hand, Bell claimed that police were still caught off guard, claiming that the initial intelligence had predicted a “much smaller footprint” of people who were motivated to stay for a longer period.
“In terms of scope and scale—geographical footprint—what ended up on our streets was not consistent with what we believed would happen,” he said.
“It quickly morphed from what was supposed to be a demonstration into an illegal occupation.”
And Bell, who took over as police chief from Chief Peter Sloly on February 15, more than two weeks after the occupation began, admitted he still has concerns about how his officers prepared for the truckers.
“Our city’s residents have questions about our activities leading up to this.” He said, “I have some questions about our activities leading up to this.”
“That’s why discussions like these and the internal review that the city of Ottawa will conduct are so critical.”
The Federal Emergencies Act was a necessary tool to help police end the protest, according to both police chiefs, with Bell calling it a “critical piece of our efforts.”
It allowed them to prohibit people from entering the area, secure critical infrastructure, pursue the money used to fund the protest, and compel tow truck companies to assist in removing heavy trucks from downtown, according to Bell.
Source: CTV News
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