Convoy of truckers: “It was too cold, and it was too much” | Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency

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Convoy of truckers: “It was too cold, and it was too” | Commission of Inquiry into the State of emergency

Ex-Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly broke down during questioning before the Rouleau Commission.

With emotion, ex-Chief Peter Sloly said OPS officers “did their best” during the occupation of downtown Ottawa last winter, adding that he was grateful for their work.

Even though the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) had considered all of the clues suggesting that the truckers' protest had the potential to escalating into a prolonged occupation, it would have been unable to prevent it for lack of resources, believes its former leader, Peter Sloly.

To lock down the city, close freeway ramps and block interprovincial bridges, the OPS would have needed at least 2,000 additional officers, Mr. Sloly said Friday morning before the Commission of Inquiry into the state of emergency.

It was too cold, and it was too much, he declared, moved, after having interrupted his testimony for a few seconds, the time to regain consciousness.

In the context, his officers did their best, Mr. Sloly insisted, lamenting in the same breath that public opinion quickly turned against the OPS in the days following the start of the occupation of the downtown Ottawa.

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The ex-police chief, who was quick to say there was unlikely to be a police solution to the crisis, however agreed that he contributed to the impression that his service had capitulated . It may have given the impression that we had given up, I don't question that, he admitted.

In hindsight, Mr. Sloly – who left office on February 15, the day after the Emergencies Act was invoked – believes that the federal authorities should have been more involved in the planning of the manifestation.

Reports on the management of the threat we were facing came from the Ontario Provincial Police, he explained.

“To this day, I still have one question: "Why didn't I not received such information, of the quality that I received from the OPP, but from our federal partners, and this, on a regular basis?"

— Peter Sloly, former Ottawa Police Chief

From the start, he said, it was a national event, with trucks arriving from both western Canada and southern Ontario. , Quebec and the Maritimes.

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Ottawa police officers, Mr. Sloly pointed out on Friday, worked in particularly difficult conditions last winter during the occupation of downtown Ottawa.

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, among other things, that a public inquiry must a fortiori consider the circumstances that led the authorities to take such a decision.

Ex-Chief Sloly was questioned extensively about the OPS's lack of preparedness ahead of the Freedom Convoy's arrival in Ottawa, despite the fact that several intelligence reports, including from the OPP , reported the risks of occupying the city center. This is at least what several witnesses have maintained, with supporting evidence, since the start of the Commission's public hearings.

A line in a report, unless you have read the entire report, can be misleading. A report, unless you have read all the reports, could be misleading, defended Peter Sloly, admitting not having read all the intelligence reports and blaming, in passing, his deputies for the x27;having kept in ignorance.

These warning signs ultimately led Ottawa police to believe that most protesters would leave the federal capital after the first weekend of protests and that only a small core would attempt to occupy downtown longer. . And even though the OPS was informed that the demonstrators were receiving considerable donations of food, drinking water and money, the service did not see fit to consider that a major occupation could take place.

Furthermore, a memo from the OPS itself, sent to its agents on January 24, asking them to restrict leave requests in anticipation of the protest, ruling that it is most likely many participants will not leave town for an indefinite period.

The language used in such a memo is not intended to accurately describe the situation, Sloly replied, saying it was simply impossible to predict the size of the convoy.

< p class="e-p">The appearance of ex-Chief Sloly, replaced on an interim basis by Steven (Steve) Bell, has so far been an opportunity to once again highlight the confusion who ruled the SPO command structure at the time.

His testimony comes after two weeks of hearings almost entirely devoted to police views on the crisis. Mr. Sloly is to be cross-examined on Monday, after which convoy organizers will be heard.

In addition to the information from the OPP, the testimony gathered by the Commission to date has revealed that the municipal police service ignored alerts issued by hoteliers in the Ottawa area. , suggesting that the convoy could stay in Ottawa longer than planned.

The OPS did indeed err in its reading of events, admitted last week its acting deputy chief, Patricia (Trish) Ferguson, and the police were taken aback when the truckers stopped cooperating with them, Steven Bell said Monday.

As a result, the local police quickly lost the confidence of the Trudeau government. To get out of the crisis, the federal government considered meeting the organizers of the convoy, but this meeting never took place. The Emergencies Act was finally invoked on February 14.

Witnesses, such as retired OPP Chief Superintendent Carson Pardy, however, told the Commission that they could have done without it. The convoy, which was dismantled from February 18, would have been anyway, added another provincial police officer on Thursday.

In addition to several high-ranking police officers, the Commission chaired by Judge Paul Rouleau has heard since the beginning of the hearings on October 13, residents, merchants and local elected officials, such as former mayor Jim Watson.

By November 25, 68 witnesses will have appeared. Justin Trudeau is in the lot, as are seven ministers, including Marco Mendicino (Public Security), who reiterated in the House on Friday that the use of emergency measures had been a last resort decision to resolve an unprecedented situation. .

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The Emergencies Act invocation was “necessary” , once again pleaded Marco Mendicino, Friday, in the Commons.

Representatives of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) will also be called to appear, as will RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, who believed on February 14 that the authorities had not yet exhausted all the means at their disposal. to dislodge the protesters.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the province's former Solicitor General Sylvia Jones received a subpoena, but they s oppose it for all sorts of reasons, in particular arguing that they consider this to be an exclusively federal matter.

Mr. Ford and Ms. Jones also this week rejected a subpoena to appear before federal lawmakers from the state of emergency parliamentary review committee, created in the wake of the invocation of the emergency measures. #x27;federal emergencies. This is shown in an October 27 letter from Ontario Cabinet Office General Counsel Don Fawcett to the committee in question declining the invitation to testify. /p>

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