“Freedom convoy”: the OPP also warned of the risk of occupation | Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency

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“ Freedom convoy””: the OPP also warned of the risk of occupation | Commission of Inquiry into the 'state of emergency' /></p><p><source srcset=

Former president of the Police Services Board, Diane Deans, appeared before the Board of Inquiry into the State of Emergency.

Ottawa Police Service (OPS) Chief Peter Sloly was confident the “Freedom Convoy” would leave the nation's capital after just one weekend of protest, this despite several warnings about the risk of occupation, including an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) memo distributed before the protesters even arrived.

This is particularly evident in the testimony on Wednesday of Diane Deans, president of the Police Services Commission during the crisis, before the Commission on the state of emergency. This commission is looking into the federal government's use of the Emergencies Act last February.

Ms Deans claimed to have learned of the convoy's arrival in the capital on January 24, during an interview with then-police chief Peter Sloly. During the meeting, however, they did not discuss the possibility of the protest continuing.

The next day, however, the city councilor began to be concerned about the scale that the demonstration seemed to be taking and the funds raised for the cause. She voiced her concerns to Chief Sloly on January 26, but he dismissed them out of hand.

He said to me, “What are you so worried about?” Ms. Deans testified. And he said he would be surprised if they were still there on Monday.

< p class="styled__StyledLegend-sc-v64krj-0 cfqhYM">Former Ottawa Police Service Chief Peter Sloly.

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. This rally paralyzed downtown Ottawa from Saturday, January 29 to Sunday, February 20.

This legislation – passed 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.

Diane Deans also confirmed that on January 26, Police Chief Sloly failed to tell the Police Services Board that his department had been notified that same day by the OPP that the protesters intended to cause mayhem and remain in Ottawa for a period of time. indefinite period.

In a one-on-one conversation, Mr. Sloly allegedly told him instead that he expected the protesters to be gone the following Monday, corroborating testimony offered earlier in the day. week by City Manager Steve Kanellakos.

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In his testimony before the Board of Inquiry late Wednesday, Pat Morris, Commander of the OPP's Provincial Office of Operational Intelligence, for his hand confirmed that the provincial police had indeed planned an extended demonstration.

He added, on several occasions, that long before the start of the demonstration, plans were already underway for a two or three week demonstration.

Groups involved had expressed their grievances for months, Morris said, and the federal election had shown people were willing to go the extra mile to illustrate their unhappiness.

Pat Morris is the Commander of the Provincial Operational Intelligence Bureau of the Ontario Provincial Police.

However, according to Diane Deans, the OPS still did not have, at that time, a detailed operational plan to deal with the convoy. Also, once the crisis erupted, communications became difficult with Police Chief Sloly. The latter was not very available and his plans were a bit like wishful thinking.

Councillor Deans said she was in constant contact with the Police Chief Sloly as the protest unfolded, but she said Wednesday she was not always given the full picture.

In the heat of the moment, the OPS was so overwhelmed that Ms. Deans even said she was reluctant to fully play her watchdog role, as chair of the Police Services Board, for fear of interfering with the work of those who had the responsibility of keeping order in the capital. In this sense, accountability was complicated by the seriousness of the situation, according to her.

The pressure – exerted by the public and City Hall, and that rife within the police department – ultimately led to the resignation of Chief Sloly at the height of the protest, on February 15.


But according to Mrs. Deans, it was not so much the convoy of truckers that convinced him to leave as an insurrection fomented internally in connection with the climate of toxic masculinity that prevailed within the SPO at the time. This working climate was the subject of a post-report by CBC, the English network of Radio-Canada.

The testimony of Ms. Deans, who is not running for re-election next Monday in Ontario, also highlighted the tensions that existed between her and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, tensions that have affected their ability to work. together, by the councilwoman's own admission.

In particular, they disagreed over who would succeed Peter Sloly to lead the SPO, amid the Freedom Convoy occupation. Mayor Watson seemed to favor appointing Peter Sloly's deputy, Steve Bell, as interim leader.

However, Diane Deans was more of the opinion that it was necessary to hire – for a short period ranging from a few months to a year – someone from outside the OPS and with the necessary expertise to end the crisis. After which, another leader could be appointed in due form.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson testified before the Emergency Commission on Tuesday.

At least that's what we understand from the recording of a video call, filed in extremis in evidence at the Commission on Wednesday, between the Mayor and Councilor Deans . This courtesy call from Ms. Deans was to inform Mr. Watson of his intention to have a new police chief signed the next day.

It was this disagreement with Mayor Watson that reportedly led Ottawa City Council to oust Ms. Deans as Chair of the Police Services Board.

During her testimony before the Commission, Diane Deans said she knew, prior to this call with Jim Watson, that a motion was brewing to strip her of her seat on the Police Services Board.

She also claimed that she lost faith in him during the “freedom convoy” crisis.

The Commission, chaired by Judge Paul Rouleau, began its public works last week. On Friday, residents and businesses recounted the hell they went through during the occupation by truckers, who blared their horns from morning till night on the streets of Ottawa.

On Monday, it was revealed that the City and its police department – ​​who had been warned by hoteliers that some protesters were planning to stay in the capital for weeks – still believed that most of them would have left the scene after a few days.

Finally, on Tuesday, Mayor Jim Watson lamented the slowness of the federal and provincial governments to send reinforcements to the Ottawa police, who quickly felt overwhelmed by events. He said he was particularly frustrated by Doug Ford's lack of cooperation.

Justin Trudeau came to the defense of Doug Ford on Wednesday.

By returning to the Commons on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also defended his Ontario counterpart, criticized among others by Mayor Watson for his refusal to send an emissary to the tripartite meetings which had been set up by the government. x27;ex-Minister of Civil Protection, Bill Blair.

According to a document submitted in evidence to the Commission on Wednesday, he considered at the time that Mr. Ford was evading his responsibilities.

There were times when people worked a bit in different ways, Mr. Trudeau qualified on Wednesday. But the important thing is that we ended up getting together to invoke our various emergency measures. We worked together to put Ontarians and all Canadians first.

Commission hearings will continue daily until November 25 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., or later. Eventually, no less than 65 people will have testified, including Justin Trudeau and seven members of his Cabinet, in November. Convoy organizers and their lawyers are also taking part in the work.

The law provides that Judge Rouleau must submit his recommendations to the government by February 6, and his report must be presented in Parliament by February 20.

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