The Canadian military is not meant to act as a law enforcement body, says the country’s defence minister.
And there are no plans for it to do so in Ottawa, where local residents have been beset by blockaded streets and blaring horns throughout the days and nights for nearly a week from a trucker convoy.
“The Canadian Forces are not a police force,” tweeted Defence Minister Anita Anand on Thursday.
“As such, there are no plans for the Canadian Armed Forces to be involved in the current situation in Ottawa in a law enforcement capacity.”
The trucker convoy has been blockading the streets of downtown Ottawa since Friday afternoon, and Ottawa police say numbers are expected to swell once again this weekend.
Global News has spoken to multiple downtown hotels whose staff have said they are booked solid for the upcoming weekend, though they could not say with certainty whether the people booking the rooms planned to take part in the convoy.
Local residents have been going through what police board chair Diane Deans called a “living hell” on Wednesday, as local councillors speaking at a police service board meeting repeatedly described the convoy camped out on Ottawa’s streets as an “occupation” and a “siege.”
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Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly told that meeting he is “increasingly concerned there is no policing solution to this,” and suggested calling in the military could be among the options.
He had repeatedly argued the risk of harm to his officers has outweighed the benefits of enforcing the laws of the city on the protesters, though on Thursday officers began ticketing more of them.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier on Thursday, though, that he did not believe calling in the military was the answer at this time.
“There were questions a couple of years ago around military when it came to other protests that were blocking critical infrastructures. My answer then is consistent with my answer now, that one has to be very cautious, very cautious before deploying military in situations engaging Canadians,” he said.
“It is not something that anyone should enter in lightly. As of now, there has been no requests and that is not in the cards right now.”
More to come.