Emergencies Act Inquiry: What Former Chief Sloly Said


Former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly is in the midst of his much-anticipated testimony before the Emergency Public Order Commission examining the federal government’s invocation of the Measures Act. emergency to put an end to the demonstrations of the « Freedom Convoy ».

Sloly resigned weeks after the protests began amid fierce criticism that the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) was not doing enough to enforce the law, dismantle the occupation and evict truckers from the city.

His testimony follows that of some of his former police colleagues and a week after the Ottawa Police Services Board named his permanent replacement. With cross-examination yet to begin, here are some key quotes from his testimony so far.


At the start of Friday’s testimony, Sloly became emotional when asked how Ottawa police were holding up after the first weekend – the time Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson previously testified he is became clear that additional resources were going to be needed.

« It’s always a tricky part for me, » Sloly said, starting to cry. Commissioner Paul Rouleau then asked if he needed a break, but Sloly said no and continued.

« They were doing their best in inhumane circumstances, like the city was, like the community. It was too cold and it was too much, but they did their best. I’m grateful for that. They should be celebrated Not celebrated is the wrong word. They need to be understood, » Sloly said of Ottawa police officers at the scene.

Commission counsel then asked Sloly to elaborate on why he thought they were misunderstood. Here is what he said:

« The level of misinformation and misinformation was off the charts. It was crushing the morale of the members, it was crushing the morale of the incident command team, it was crushing the morale of my leadership team. [Police Services] Plank. It was overwhelming for everyone. It was relentless, it was 24 hours a day. And I think by the end of the weekend, it had become a global story that the mainstream media was following. And none of it was in any way accurate[ly], the hard work of the men and women of the police service and partner organizations who have supported us. None of that,” Sloly said.

« To this day that is not the case and that is very unfortunate because public confidence in any police service, I believe, is the number one factor in public safety. When a police service loses considerably the public trust, that in itself is a massive threat and risk to public safety. »


On Friday, Sloly was asked why he said on Feb. 2 that « there may not be a police solution » to end the « freedom convoy. »

His answer: “The size and scale of the events were not going to be able to be handled by a single police jurisdiction, certainly not mine. That this was a national event that began in every corner of Canada and arrived in our city… This was confirmed by a wide variety of polarizing issues, not the least of which were the mandates immunization, but there were many other anti-government sentiments expressed at all three levels of government. come to our city and participate in the event, to have an unruly and in many cases illegal party.

“The foundations that created this event and brought it to our city in a substantial way went far beyond the Police Services Act mandate of me as Chief of Police and the Ottawa Police Service… And we were going to have to engage other elements of civil society, and probably all three levels of government, in order to somehow make a meaningful contribution to a lasting solution to end it.”


Asked how the OPS had tried to prioritize the response to the protest once it was firmly entrenched in the city centre, Sloly said its overall goal was to « shut down » those who allowed to the protest area to « look like a theme park ».

Here’s the full quote: « Obviously we already knew about the problem of bouncy castles, DJs, dancing and fireworks. That’s a very short list of all the things that plagued neighborhoods in and around the red-light district. areas. Open barbecues, people blocking lanes, ripping masks off people’s faces. I could, I could list the incredible range of aggressive-type behavior. The city to look like a park at theme in the midst of a public safety crisis. I had introduced nothing more than to articulate the obvious.

Former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly appears as a witness before the Public Order Emergency Commission in Ottawa, Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick


During his testimony, Sloly very clearly tried to blame some of the force’s shortcomings in planning and execution on his deputies. He referred to a document containing a Feb. 5 email discussing a meeting he had with then-deputy chief Steve Bell and acting deputy chief Patricia Ferguson about a decision he says was « kept secret » from him: changing who was in command of the incident. .

« We are in the midst of what I now consider to be a national security crisis – my opinion, does not have to be held by others – certainly a local public safety crisis, and one of the most important functions , if not the most important, is the incident commander,” Sloly testified.

Sloly said the memo « demonstrates that I’m still not sure who’s leading what, and for a police chief, with the citizens in the trauma and victimization they were experiencing, our own members as struggling as they were. At best I can call this a significant lapse in judgment on the part of my two operational deputies At worst it probably would have been a review I did after events were over and looked more closely .

When asked if his level of trust in his deputies had changed at that time, he said yes.

He was also asked if he was, as others have testified, in favor of greater law enforcement rather than community engagement. Sloly called it « a narrative someone built to attack my character ».


Sloly was asked on Friday what he thought of what could be done to prevent local police from finding themselves in a similar situation again. His answer was quite long, but this section was the most relevant:

“Training needs to be standardized, nomenclature needs to be standardized, equipment needs to be standardized, joint training needs to take place. see, » Sloly said.

« It’s one of those structural deficits, sir, that’s been around for decades in policing. All of this doesn’t require money, but it will require a bit of investment to do that. But it does require a investment of time and resources, And what this event did in Ottawa, in Ontario and in Canada, is to expose this type of structural deficit. It is the same concept of structural deficit around the collection We can no longer afford to navigate our way through these incidents. . And unfortunately, it reads like a duct tape effort to get through a very complicated dynamic situation. »


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