New document reveals day Emergencies Act was invoked, police warned of violence

OTTAWA – Ontario Provincial Police intelligence officers have warned of growing “anti-police sentiment” and increasingly confrontational tactics by so-called “freedom convoy” protesters on February 14 , the day the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act, a new document at the federal investigation shows.

Released publicly on Wednesday, the OPP intelligence assessment warned of the volatility of convoy occupations in the nation’s capital and said the lifting of protest blockades the previous weekend at the Windsor’s Ambassador Bridge probably wouldn’t deter them.

« Protesters in Ottawa are well-organized, well-positioned, disciplined in security and well-informed, including police planning, » the assessment said.

The assessment also warned that « the potential for conflict or violence is likely to increase as the blockade of Ottawa continues », with « stronger anti-police sentiment » within the occupation and a unconfirmed possibility that some protesters may have firearms.

« Many of the protesters are ideologically motivated and espouse anti-government or anti-authority views, » the assessment said.

“They seem to be largely indifferent to the potential legal consequences, as they view state institutions as illegitimate and their own ‘fight for freedom’ as paramount. Some see themselves as being at war with the Canadian government and everything it stands for.

The convoy protests began last January with a movement of truckers and other anti-government activists who traveled to Ottawa to speak out against COVID-19 health restrictions. Some organizers have demanded all of these restrictions be lifted, while others, associated with a group called Canada Unity, initially called on the Governor General to overthrow the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The protests turned into a sit-in around Parliament Hill that lasted more than three weeks, as like-minded protesters blocked major border crossings in Windsor and elsewhere in Canada.

The crisis prompted the federal government to invoke the Emergencies Act on February 14, a controversial move that created extraordinary police powers and drew criticism from civil liberties groups and opposition conservatives. The government had defended the move as a « last resort » to deal with an economically damaging national crisis with the risk of serious political violence.

Despite investigative testimony from a senior OPP officer who downplayed the level of crime and threat during the convoy, the February 14 OPP intelligence report shows how the OPP saw a serious situation and potentially dangerous on the day the act was invoked.

He determined that, more than two weeks into the occupation of Ottawa, there were approximately 500 “transport trucks” parked in the streets around Parliament Hill. Ottawa police had also reported that a local Canadian Tire was selling « an unusual amount of pepper spray », which raised concerns in the OPP’s assessment it could be used « at offensive purposes.

The assessment showed police were monitoring social media and found a video online in which a driver parked outside the Chateau The Laurier Hotel had made « incendiary statements », which included the use of a truck as a weapon. The driver also showed a protective vest which « he said would stop a penetrating bullet ».

The OPP also raised concerns about protesters believing they were engaged in a conflict with the government or a “class war” in which they represented working people in a struggle against the country’s “elites”. The assessment said some protesters favor tactics of « irregular warfare, in which authorities are frustrated, worn down or provoked » by small acts of nuisance.

To that end, some protesters were calling for “missions” or “challenges,” such as stealing a red toque worn by Durham police officers helping out in Ottawa.

« Use of these tactics could reflect a belief that protesters are at war, and could also be an indicator of logistical support in the form of expertise from organizers or influencers with police or military backgrounds, » the statement said. ‘Evaluation.

The assessment also raised concerns that police plans had been leaked and shared with protesters, including through Jeremy MacKenzie, the leader of a group called Diagolon whom the OPP called » ideological group » which uses rhetoric encouraging « the collapse of the government ».

The OPP report also noted a decline in influence in a protest leader, whose name is redacted, but says that when he interacted with police he “openly carried a sheathed knife. but tall » and rejected the idea of ​​removing it.

The report also names Randy Hillier, the former Ontario MPP who was later arrested and charged with assaulting a peace officer during the occupation. Intelligence identifies Hillier as an « integral supporter of this movement and action in Ottawa. » He also notes his public comment, « This is the hill I die on », describing it as appearing « metaphorical » but perhaps interpreted literally.

About 2,200 police officers helped break up the occupation in Ottawa for three days, beginning Feb. 18, according to the inquest.

The federal government revoked the special powers under the Emergencies Act on February 23.


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