RCMP say they learned lessons from 'freedom convoy' protests | Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency
One of the lessons learned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is to prevent vehicles or camps from entrenching themselves in public space. (File photo)
After overseeing the “freedom convoy” protests, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) say they learned lessons, including the need to be better prepared for a storming of emergency hotlines , according to recently released documents.
Briefing notes obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Access Act; information also highlight the security pressures to protect leaders in Ottawa and detail the challenges that arose from the protests having no clear direction.
The police force compiled the documents before six senior RCMP officials, including Commissioner Brenda Lucki, were interviewed by Commission lawyers about the state of emergency last September.
In early 2022, Ms. Lucki was among officials whom Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his cabinet consulted as they sought to respond to protests at the Hill. Parliament and at several border crossings.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Brenda Lucki has been criticized for not sharing information with the Trudeau cabinet that a plan was in place to evacuate protesters from Ottawa. (File photo)
To extricate the protesters, who were challenging the Trudeau government and public health measures related to COVID-19, Ottawa ultimately invoked the Emergency Measures Act – a decision that Judge Paul Rouleau found justified in a final report published a month ago.
The hundreds of hours of testimony and thousands of pages of documents submitted over the six weeks public hearings last fall resulted in 56 recommendations, 27 of which were aimed at improving police operations.
But long before the publication of Judge Rouleau's report, the RCMP had already prepared its own list of preliminary lessons learned, show two of the briefing documents.
The RCMP recognized that setting the tone early with protesters was important and was complicated by the lack of clear leadership.
Another lesson learned was the need to prevent vehicles or other encampments from becoming entrenched in a public space, according to the document.
The provision of hearing protection for officers in the field is among the suggested improvements for future operations. (File Photo)
Other suggested improvements to future operations included: anticipating call line overwriting; emergency, providing officers with hearing protection and planning for increased security demands for MPs and Ministers.
Michael Kempa, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, suggests lessons learned show the RCMP realize they can't use their experiences with past protests to manage future protests. .
They say: ''We cannot trust our past experience''.
In an interview, Mr. Kempa said the convoy was an example of a new form of mass protest, which can be organized on social media and raise tons of money, but doesn't; has no clear leadership among the various protest groups.
The RCMP did not respond to a query from The Canadian Press.
The document prepared for the officials was accompanied by a timetable and a description of the tasks performed by the RCMP during the week-long demonstration in Ottawa, including the provision of security escorts for ministers, party leaders and judges.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau surrounded by his close guard . (File photo)
It says the RCMP Protection Division has seen a sharp increase in the number of inappropriate threats and comments made against officials under its protection, the majority of which were directed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The briefing note indicates that the RCMP opened 168 unwanted files from January 21 to February 28 in 2022, compared to 44 during the same period in 2021.
During the inquest last fall, Ms Lucki was criticized for not sharing information with the cabinet that a plan was in place to clear protesters from x27;Ottawa.
“I guess in hindsight, yes, it could have been something big.
— Brenda Lucki, Commissioner of the RCMP, in her testimony
The inquest also heard that in the hours leading up to the decision, Ms. Lucki had sent a note to a senior official suggesting that she felt not all available tools had been explored.