Blocking of the Ambassador Bridge: Trudeau was ready to accept help from the Americans | Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency

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The blocking of the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Windsor to Detroit, on February 11, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Ontario counterpart, Doug Ford, considered asking American assistance to end the Ambassador Bridge blockade, February 9. This is according to the report of a telephone conversation between the two men filed in evidence Tuesday at the Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency.

When told that the towing companies under contract with the City of Windsor were refusing to move the trucks blocking the passage between Windsor and Detroit, Mr. Trudeau told his Ontario counterpart that a solution would have to be found quickly.

“If you have to move the trucks, we will ask the United States to help us, and it will be embarrassing for us , but if the United States offers us help, we will have to take it. »

— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

I agree, replied Doug Ford, who estimated losses at more than $500 million a day in trade.

Visibly upset by the economic damage caused by the dam, the two men agreed that day to work hand in hand in order to regularize the situation at the Ambassador Bridge, blocked since February 7.

Justin Trudeau had offered to help Doug Ford no matter how great the resources needed. According to him, it was necessary to act as quickly as possible so as not to give the police the opportunity to say that they could not do their job for lack of manpower or personnel. x27;equipment.

Justin Trudeau, accompanied by his Ontario counterpart, Doug Ford

At the time of the call, however, Prime Minister Trudeau believed that his counterpart already had all the tools to intervene. Doug Ford said the Attorney General of Ontario was looking for legal ways to give police more tools.

You shouldn't need more legal tools: they cripple the economy, cause millions of damages a day and harm people's lives, argued Mr. Trudeau, inviting his interlocutor to take the necessary means to put an end to this demonstration which, according to him, was not legal.

The premier reacted to the release of his conversation with Doug Ford, on the sidelines of an announcement in New Brunswick on Tuesday. We had to make sure we tried to resolve the situation without having to resort to extraordinary powers, as the commission shows, argued Justin Trudeau.

The Ambassador Bridge, the busiest border point between Canada and the United States, was finally reopened late on February 13, the day before the use of the Emergency Measures Act, which granted authorities with temporary and exceptional powers to clear protesters from downtown Ottawa and border crossings.

The Trudeau government invoked the Emergencies Act on February 14, 2022 to end a rally of truckers and other protesters opposing COVID-19 health measures that paralyzed downtown Ottawa from Saturday January 29 to Sunday February 20.

This law – adopted in 1988 to succeed the War Measures Act – provides in particular that a public inquiry must a fortiori examine the circumstances which led the authorities to take such a decision.

Before the Rouleau Commission, Superintendent Dana Earley of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said Tuesday morning that a letter signed by the former Solicitor General of the x27;Ontario Sylvia Jones had been distributed to protesters on the evening of February 11, when the atmosphere was festive.

This letter, signed by the minister, offered them to meet with representatives of the Ontario government in exchange for their immediate departure from the Ambassador Bridge.

Superintendent Dana Earley had been tasked by her superiors to take command of the Ontario Provincial Police/Windsor Police Service Unified Command Center during the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge.

However, early the next morning, very few protesters had agreed to leave the scene, testified the officer. It is very disappointing that the letter had so little effect, although I appreciated all the efforts made to obtain it, she confided.

The situation was all the more distressing since the idea of ​​unblocking the bridge in exchange for a meeting with the government had first been raised by a man who presented himself to the liaison teams of the police as one of the representatives of the demonstrators, a man named Jake Neufeld.

However, the protesters were far from forming a united and structured group, and the police officers had a lot struggling to maintain consistent relationships with them during the occupation, which lasted from February 7 to 13, Superintendent Earley said Tuesday.

The operation to dismantle the Ambassador Bridge finally got under way on February 12, resulting in dozens of arrests.

In her interview with Commission counsel prior to her testimony, Superintendent Earley also confirmed Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, who said Monday that potential counter-protesters intended at some time to step in and dismantle the barricades themselves.

These counter-protesters were part of the local auto workers union, Unifor, we learn in the report of the interview.

Their president, David Cassidy, had claimed he had spoken to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and was prepared to bring autoworkers to the scene of the blockade to forcibly evacuate protesters no later than Monday, February 14, had the police not cleared the blockade by then, it read.

The confrontation was narrowly avoided, said Superintendent Earley, who said she asked the union members to be patient.

I was very grateful to police relations teams for the relationship they had developed with Mr. Cassidy, she testified. It was thanks to her that we were able to ask for time.

Fort Macleod Councilman Marco Van Huigenbos in Alberta, acted as a spokesperson for the Coutts protesters. He testified before the commission on Tuesday.

Superintendent Earley's testimony was followed Tuesday afternoon by that of Paul Leschied, a protester who participated in the closure of the Ambassador Bridge. At the end of the day, it was Marco Van Huigenbos, a city councilman charged with mischief for his role in organizing the blockade of Coutts, Alberta, who took the witness stand.

The proliferation of these border blockades helped convince the federal government to invoke the Emergencies Act on February 14, even though the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had warned it that such a gesture risked escalating the situation.

Not only was the situation volatile, but the protesters – including former police, military and CSIS members – benefited from police leaks, we learned last week. A former Justin Trudeau security guard may even have leaked the Prime Minister's schedule.

An investigation has been opened into this matter by the Ottawa Police Service (OPS ). One of his agents, Kristina Neilson, was also found guilty last Thursday of making a cash donation to the organizers of the so-called freedom convoy.

Eventually, the Commission will have heard from 71 witnesses, including Justin Trudeau. Subpoenaed, Doug Ford and Sylvia Jones, however, managed to convince a Federal Court judge that they had no obligation to participate in the hearings.

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