Ottawa police, politicians seek swift end to trucker convoy

Click to play video: 'Trucker protests: Ottawa police outline arrests, charges under ‘surge and contain’ strategy'
Trucker protests: Ottawa police outline arrests, charges under ‘surge and contain’ strategy
Speaking to the media on Monday, Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly said 20 criminal arrests and charges as well as 500 tickets or citations had been issued thus far as part of the force's "surge and contain" strategy in response to the ongoing protests in the nation's capital. Sloly added that vehicles had also been towed, "including trucks." – Feb 7, 2022

Ottawa police say they made multiple arrests and issued hundreds of tickets across the second weekend of the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests in the nation’s capital.

The rhetoric and legal positioning is ramping up as well, with the police chief calling the ongoing protest a “siege” of the city, the mayor declaring a state of emergency, and a judge granting an injunction against horns honking through the downtown core.

The original convoy’s numbers surged with more trucks and bodies over the weekend, as police estimated on Friday that hundreds of vehicles were heading for Ottawa.

Hundreds of counterprotesters also mobilized at Ottawa City Hall on Saturday afternoon to push back against the ongoing downtown demonstration.

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Click to play video: 'Trucker protests: Convoy demonstration in Ottawa enters 2nd weekend'
Trucker protests: Convoy demonstration in Ottawa enters 2nd weekend

Speaking at a special police board meeting called Saturday afternoon, Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly said his force was in need of more resources and added that the legal rules in place for police conduct “were never intended to deal with a city under siege.”

After a week of accusations from critics that they were failing to properly manage and penalize the protesters for round-the-clock honking and blockading city streets, Ottawa police announced over the weekend that they would begin cracking down on numerous offences.

That included threatening to arrest anyone bringing “material supports” — including gasoline refills — to the convoyers.

Police said in a 9 p.m. update Sunday that “multiple vehicles and fuel have been seized.”

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Seven people were arrested over the weekend, five of whom were charged with mischief.

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Two others were arrested Sunday morning: one was charged with driving while prohibited; one faces a count of mischief related to property damage to a downtown business.

There are more than 60 criminal investigations underway in connection with the protest, police said.

Officers meanwhile issued more than 100 Highway Traffic Act and other provincial offence notices for reasons including excessive honking, driving the wrong way, having a defective muffler, having no seat belt, having the wrong class of driver’s licence and for having alcohol readily available.

Ottawa police and bylaw officers handed out more than 450 tickets on Saturday alone, including fines for excessive noise.

Confederation Park, where demonstrators had previously erected a wooden shack, has been “fully cleared and fenced,” police said.

As of 9 a.m. on Sunday, police estimated that there were 100 demonstrators on Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill and 500 vehicles comprising the core demonstration in downtown Ottawa.

City gears up to respond

The police service’s move to increase enforcement comes as the city ratchets up its response to the ongoing protest.

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Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency in the city on Sunday, just seven months after he lifted the same measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The emergency declaration can speed up the city’s capacity to get critical resources and services to mitigate a crisis.

It allows the municipality to bypass the traditional procurement bidding mechanisms that the city has to follow in favour of sole-source contracts.

Ottawa city council will meet at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the impact of the occupation on residents and businesses. Councillors will be coming with numerous motions aimed at mobilizing city resources or calling for external support to end the protest.

Some local politicians have called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take a more active role in the situation. Trudeau’s itinerary says he is having private meetings Monday somewhere in the National Capital Region.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called for an emergency House of Commons debate on the subject of the trucker convoy Monday morning.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Sunday the province has given Ottawa everything the municipality has requested, and will continue to do so.

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Judge orders horns silenced

Meanwhile, Ontario Superior Court Justice Hugh McLean has granted a 10-day injunction to prevent truckers parked on city streets in downtown Ottawa from honking their horns incessantly.

McLean says the injunction is temporary because he needs to hear more evidence, but has heard enough to make this ruling today.

Paul Champ, a lawyer representing Ottawa residents in a proposed multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit, had argued the loud and prolonged honking is causing irreparable harm.

Keith Wilson, representing three of the respondents in the case, had told McLean the ruling on the injunction would carry national importance.

— with files from the Canadian Press


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