Advertisement

Winnipeg police to continue negotiation process with protesters, chief says

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg police to continue negotiation process with protesters, chief says'
Winnipeg police to continue negotiation process with protesters, chief says
The protesters outside the Manitoba Legislature are on the move. According to a statement released by organizers Friday, the protest isn’t over, but the demonstrators and their vehicles have moved to the area around Memorial Park – Feb 18, 2022

The protesters outside the Manitoba Legislature are on the move.

According to a statement released by organizers Friday, the protest isn’t over, but the demonstrators and their vehicles have moved to the area around Memorial Park.

“We recognize that tension across Canada has been rising over the past week, and we want to do everything possible to ensure that our voice in Winnipeg remains one of moderation while affirming the legal right of Canadians to protest,” the statement said.

Winnipeg police chief Danny Smyth speaks to media Friday afternoon. Global News / File

Winnipeg police chief Danny Smyth and superintendent Dave Dalal spoke to media about the ongoing protest on Friday afternoon, and said they intend to stick with their current strategy of negotiating with protest organizers.

Story continues below advertisement

Smyth said that although police reserve the right to employ different tactics if the situation changes, so far they feel like they’re having some degree of success at keeping open lines of communication with the now two-week long demonstration.

Engagement with the protesters, he said, involves building a relationship with them in order to negotiate.

“This is an ongoing operation that so far is progressing towards a resolution,” said Smyth.

“Our approach to managing this demonstration is consistent with other protests that we’ve managed.”

Police have acknowledged the large amount of public concern over the way they’ve approached the situation — including from the city’s mayor and council, who have called for an end to the demonstration — but were unwilling to share any details Friday on whether tickets have been issued or arrests have been made to date.

That information, they said, will be released when the operation is complete.

Read more: Counter-protesters gather at Manitoba legislature anti-mandate demonstration

The ongoing protests across the country — in opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and in support of the larger demonstration in Ottawa — have had a number of setbacks in recent days, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoking the never-before-used Emergencies Act — a piece of legislation with the intent of dispersing the so-called “Freedom Convoy.”

Story continues below advertisement

Border protests in a number of provinces — including one near the Canada-U.S. border at Emerson, Man. — have also been shut down recently by RCMP, and the protest at the Manitoba Legislature was met with a large counterprotest last weekend.

Smyth said discussing Winnipeg’s protest in terms of Ottawa’s is an unfair comparison, and that he doesn’t think the Emergency Act will apply to what local officers are dealing with.

“I would caution about comparing us to Ottawa, we’re dealing with very different situations,” he said.

“I’ve seen enough progress through negotiation with the organizers that identifies to me that this is the right and appropriate action to take… hopefully we’ll get to a resolution in the not so distant future.”

The protesters say they want to “minimize their footprint” by moving to Memorial Park and continue their demonstration peacefully.

Click to play video: 'Trucker protests: Winnipeg police not sending officers to Ottawa despite request, chief says'
Trucker protests: Winnipeg police not sending officers to Ottawa despite request, chief says
Advertisement

Sponsored content