Ottawa police pressed for answers on end to convoy blockade: ‘This will take time’

Click to play video: 'Trucker protests: Ottawa police issue new written warning to demonstrators'
Trucker protests: Ottawa police issue new written warning to demonstrators
WATCH: Trucker protests — Ottawa police issue new written warning to demonstrators – Feb 16, 2022

An operation to end an “illegal” blockade of downtown Ottawa will take time, police say, as they vowed to remove all remaining demonstrators and their vehicles that have been camped in the nation’s capital for the past 20 days.

“It’s not going to be a quick turnaround. This is an operation that will take time — over a number of days to actually execute and achieve,” said Steve Bell, interim Ottawa Police Service chief at a special city council meeting on Wednesday.

Bell, who stepped in to fill the interim role after Peter Sloly resigned as chief of the Ottawa Police Service on Tuesday, did not give any details about the execution of the plan nor gave a timeline when asked by multiple city councillors at the meeting.

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“I can’t speak to the specifics of the plan because it would jeopardize its operational success,” he said in response to a question.

He said some of the methods police are ready to use are not what people are used to seeing in Ottawa, adding that the plan considers all possible scenarios, and will be focused on the safety of the public, demonstrators and officers.

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“We’re going to take back the entirety of the downtown core and every occupied space,” said Bell.

“We’re going to remove this unlawful protest. We will return our city to a state of normalcy.”

Click to play video: 'Ottawa police warn protesters of arrests'
Ottawa police warn protesters of arrests

Residents of Ottawa are growing impatient as the so-called “Freedom Convoy”, protesting against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures, has paralyzed the nation’s capital for nearly three weeks.

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On Wednesday morning, Ottawa police warned the protesters to “leave the area now” or “face charges”.

“Anyone blocking streets, or assisting others in the blocking streets, are committing a criminal offence and you may be arrested. You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you will face charges,” reads a notice issued by Ottawa police on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, an Ontario Superior Court justice in Ottawa granted a 60-day extension to the injunction issued last week which banned the use of air horns and train horns by the convoy. That injunction had initially been granted for just 10 days and was set to expire.

Click to play video: 'What’s next for Ottawa’s police service?'
What’s next for Ottawa’s police service?

For his part, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson urged the protesters to leave the city, warning that the “window of opportunity” is closing.

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“If you leave now voluntarily, the odds of being able to leave with your property are quite high,” he said during the meeting.

“The longer you stay, the greater the risk to yourself and others,” Watson added.

In an updated notice to the demonstrators on Wednesday evening, Ottawa Police Service said a failure to remove vehicles and/or property from the “unlawful” protest sites could result in arrests and criminal offence charges, seizure of vehicles and the cancellation or suspension of driver’s licences.

The personal or business bank accounts of those taking part in the demonstrations may also be subject to examination and restriction, OPS said.

The warnings come as the federal government invoked the never-before-used Emergencies Act on Monday in order to quash the ongoing blockades in Ottawa and elsewhere.

Under the legislation, you can’t legally travel to the blockade in Ottawa, and you’ve got to leave if you’re already there.

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