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Ottawa police chief swears 'all protesters the same'

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Protesters march through downtown Ottawa on February 17, 2024, two years after the truckers' convoy blocked the streets of the federal capital. (Archive photo)


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The chief of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) responded to criticism of the management of the demonstrations. Earlier this week, he assured that his police force “treats all protesters the same way.”

Eric Stubbs took responsibility for the confusion that arose from a protest over Family Day weekend.

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Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs ( Archive photo)

Several hundred people were on hand to mark the second anniversary of the police operation which put an end to the truckers' convoy.

At the same time, the head of the OPS does not question the way in which the agents reacted to the agitated demonstrators who were throwing fireworks in the city center.

Speaking to the Ottawa Police Services Board on Monday, Eric Stubbs took issue with the way some people interpreted his reaction team.

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Several hundred people made their presence felt on Parliament Hill on Saturday, February 17, 2024, two years after the police operation that put an end to the truckers' convoy in Ottawa.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Last week, it was reported that the SPO was acting as a double standard, or in favor of the convoy movement, and had focused its enforcement on Palestinian marches. This is simply not true, he argued. We remain a neutral agency during protests, aiming for a safe, peaceful and legal event. That's it.

The police chief said police handed out nine tickets to demonstrators of the anniversary of the convoy and that there had been no prosecution for the pro-Palestinian demonstration of the same weekend.

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But following the protests, this message was not clearly conveyed to the public due to what Eric Stubbs called poor communication and interpretations erroneous.

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As was the case in 2022, many demonstrators expressed their dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, during a demonstration on February 17 in Ottawa.

Last week, the Ottawa Municipal Bylaw Department noted that its officers had not issued any tickets in response to the protest marking the second anniversary of the police operation that put an end to the convoy. The statement sparked outrage on social media and questions from a city council member.

The municipal councilor of the Somerset district, Ariel Troster, had noted that a few weeks earlier, the Municipal Bylaws Department had issued tickets for excessive noise against pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

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The municipal councilor of the Somerset district in Ottawa , Ariel Troster (Archive photo)

Later in the day, Eric Stubbs sent a message to city councilors that appeared to contradict the Bylaw Department's account. He said police and bylaw officers issued multiple infractions against participants in the convoy's second anniversary protest.

It was an error, the police chief told the council on Monday, explaining that the confusion came from the fact that the police force was issuing tickets for infractions of the rules.

But the question of double standards was not only raised by the confusion of the messages.

Questions were also asked, notably by a second municipal councillor, on the way in which the police reacted to the fireworks launched by the participants of the second anniversary of the police operation which put an end to the convoy of truckers in the evening following their demonstration.

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A demonstration to mark two years of the police operation which put an end to the truckers' convoy in 2022 took place on February 17 in Ottawa. (Archive photo)

Mr. Stubbs confirmed that police asked the officers to leave the scene.

The tension and anxiety of the group of demonstrators escalated when the police went to the scene, he said. We asked them to leave the premises in order to defuse the situation. They did so and issued no tickets. This was a decision made on the ground to avoid potential violence, and I will not question it.

According to him, the agents had not been advised to give tickets. He said the fireworks were over when police arrived, but officers made sure protesters understood the limits of a legal protest . He added that an investigation was underway.

Overall, Eric Stubbs called the intervention an operational success.

It helped lower the temperature. The perception this gives is unfortunate. In the end, there was no violence.

The Police Services Commission Ottawa has shown little appetite for further dissecting the reaction to the fireworks, choosing instead to focus on the type of noise violations meted out to pro-Palestinian protesters a few weeks earlier.

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Marty Carr , municipal councilor of the Alta Vista district (Archive photo)

The municipal councilor of Alta Vista and Commission Vice-Chair Marty Carr asked the OPS when police believe the use of a megaphone exceeds the limits to result in a ticket. The police force said it was a discretionary decision.

Eric Stubbs explained that the police are trying to find a happy medium. But there are, according to him, limits.

In recent weeks, the emphasis has been focused on the need to ensure that the use of a megaphone, for example, is not accompanied by profanity or hate crimes, the police chief stressed. There have been instances where megaphones have been brought directly to or very close to the face or head of a police officer and shouting through the megaphone. So there are certain situations where, if this continues, there is reason to take enforcement action.

With information from'Arthur White-Crummey of CBC News

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116