Leaks from all police forces fueled the 'freedom convoy' | Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency
Attorney Keith Wilson represented the organizers of the convoy last winter.
Leaks from the Ottawa Police Service (OPS), Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) supplied the organizers of the truckers' convoy during their occupation of downtown Ottawa last February, according to their lead lawyer, Keith Wilson, who testified before the Rouleau commission on Wednesday.
This is what Me Wilson said during a press scrum, just after his testimony before the Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency, which must determine whether #x27;it was justified for the federal government to use the Emergency Measures Act to put an end to the occupation of the federal capital by the freedom convoy.
“At all times, [convoy leaders] had a high degree of knowledge of police operational plans. »
— Me Keith Wilson, lead counsel for the organizers of the truckers' convoy
This information included, for example, when certain police raids were planned, which allowed the leaders of the convoy to predict how they would were going to react, he illustrated. And it happened many times.
According to him, this flow of information was constant and came from all the police forces or security agencies involved in the interventions, namely the SPO, the OPP, the RCMP and the CSIS. Me Wilson believes that it was impossible to know from whom exactly this privileged information came, since several informants were part of the chain of communication.View larger
Lawyer Keith Wilson and ex-serviceman Tom Marazzo were called to testify before the Rouleau commission on Wednesday.
According to the lawyer, former members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) relayed this information to the organizers of the convoy. In the summary of his meeting with the prosecutors of the Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency which preceded his appearance on Wednesday morning, Mr. Wilson had already explained that many of these ex-servicemen were connected and provided intelligence to the muster leaders.
These former CAF members were based at the Swiss Hotel, where a command structure had been established to which People with previous police and CSIS backgrounds were also in attendance, he said.
They had radios, maps and aerial photos, describes Mr. Wilson. They coordinated fuel distribution, garbage collection, management of the occupied area, and dealt with problematic protesters.
Police, at one point, understood what was going on and ended up launching fake operations to try to find out where the leaks were coming from, we learn in the transcript of the lawyer's interview.
The police contacts of certain protesters, however, were not the only source of information for the organizers of the convoy, Mr. Wilson said on Wednesday.
It was, for example, thanks to a member of the House of Commons that the protesters first heard that the federal government was considering invoking the Measures of Measures Act. urgency to end the occupation, he revealed during his interrogation.
The elected official in question would have circulated the information among the protesters, continued Mr. Wilson, who was unable to identify him or say which party he came from.
Despite this warning, the lawyer encouraged his clients to continue their action, even going so far as to participate in a TikTok video with convoy organizers to tell their supporters that it was still possible to prevent a police intervention by coming to Ottawa as soon as possible to support the truckers.
Although he acknowledges today that some unfortunate actions may have been taken by uncontrollable demonstrators and that many heavy goods vehicles came to a standstill downtown in contravention of municipal bylaws, the rally itself does not ;has never been officially declared illegal, he argued.
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 consider the circumstances that led the authorities to take such a decision.
In the afternoon, the commission heard the testimony of Tom Marazzo. This ex-serviceman explained how he put his logistical skills to use for the organizers of the convoy, in particular by coordinating efforts to supply gasoline, food and money for the demonstrators.
After which, at the end of the day, far-right activist and conspiracy theorist Pat King offered a long-awaited testimony. Mr. King, presented as one of the organizers of the convoy, has been singled out by his peers who have already testified before the commission.
The latter all indicated that they wanted to distance themselves from him and his videos with often controversial remarks, published on social networks, in particular Facebook, where his page accumulated approximately 500,000 subscribers during the events of the freedom convoy.
However, he was arrested on February 18 – he broadcast his arrest live on Facebook. Charged with more than 10 counts, including mischief, intimidation, obstructing police work and perjury, he was detained for five months, then released on bail on July 18, on condition that he no longer speak on social media. social, in particular.
Pat King, one of the organizers of the “freedom convoy”, was among the witnesses for the State of Emergency Commission on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, before Judge Rouleau, he defended himself for having wanted to fuel the violence with a video in particular where he suggests that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will end up taking a bullet. According to him, his remarks were taken out of context; he recorded this video after being prevented from boarding a plane in Toronto due to his vaccination status, not during the Freedom Convoy occupation.
He says he was talking about the dangers of pushing people over the edge, especially by denying them air travel, amid growing mental health issues due to the pandemic.
I absolutely regret saying that. I was furious, he also explained, repeatedly arguing that the video was cut and edited using federal government money to serve as an accurate statement of facts against his person at the time. of occupation. Pat King, however, did not provide any evidence to substantiate this claim.
According to him, the occupation of the freedom convoy in no way was a dangerous event, although he acknowledged that several people had received death threats.
“I've never seen anything so peaceful, it was Woodstock. »
— Pat King, far-right activist and one of the organizers of the “Freedom Convoy”
Short, but tense, cross-examination of Pat King gave rise to several reactions in the room, filled with sympathizers of the convoy. Judge Paul Rouleau notably had to interrupt the proceedings to expel one of them, a first since the start of the commission's public hearings on October 13.
The commission will have heard by the end of the week from a dozen witnesses involved in the occupation of downtown Ottawa, including veteran Jeremy MacKenzie, who is expected to appear by videoconference, currently being held in a Saskatchewan.
On Tuesday, three leaders of the protest movement, namely Chris Barber, Steeve L'Artiss Charland and Brigitte Belton, presented their accounts of the events to Judge Paul Rouleau, evoking between other “power struggles” among rally organizers.
These testimonies follow the one delivered Friday and Monday by the former Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly, who notably highlighted the tensions that emerged during the crisis between him and his deputies at the time, Patricia Ferguson and Steven Bell, on the subject, for example, of the use of the crisis management firm Navigator.
Eventually, 70 people will have appeared before the commission, including Justin Trudeau and seven ministers , CSIS officials and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki. Some 25 witnesses have already been heard, including many police officers, as well as local elected officials, such as the former mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson.
The Premier of Ontario , Doug Ford, has also received a subpoena, but he refuses to comply. Since then, a judge has agreed to consider his request. Mr. Ford believes that the matter is solely a federal matter and that his appearance would cause him “irreparable harm”, which Commissioner Rouleau refutes.