Ottawa Police testimony to continue Wednesday at Emergencies Act inquest

OTTAWA — Testimony continues Wednesday during the public inquiry into the government’s use of the Emergencies Act to deal with the so-called « freedom convoy » protests last winter.

Ottawa Police Superintendent Robert Bernier, who led the local cops’ operation to clear the motorcade occupation in February, will end his testimony a day early.

Bernier has previously described a “bizarre disconnect” between intelligence reports of rally convoy protests and Ottawa police preparations, adding to previous testimony that raised questions about how the forces of the order of the city initially prepared for the demonstration to last only one weekend.

He also expressed concerns about how then-Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly – whose conduct had come under scrutiny during the inquest – influenced decisions. police tactics during the crisis.

The convoy ended up staging a sit-down with hundreds of trucks blocking the streets of downtown Ottawa, the culmination of a protest movement that spawned border blockades across Canada and prompted the federal government to invoke the Emergencies Act to grant police special powers to deal with the crisis.

The unprecedented decision has been criticized by opposition politicians and civil liberties groups as blunt and potentially setting a troubling precedent, while the government insists it was needed as a ‘last resort’ to deal with protests that caused economic damage and included a threat of serious violence.

An Ontario Provincial Police intelligence bulletin from February 15, the day after the Emergencies Act was invoked, said the convoy protests stemmed from an « anti-government and anti-government movement. » -decentralized authority across Canada » that has gained momentum by channeling grievances against COVID-19 health measures. The bulletin also warned that some participants and leaders could be motivated by Islamophobic, white supremacist and other racist ideologies, and that the strong religious beliefs of some protesters could lead some to take « extreme measures against the police ».

While OPP intelligence has reported threats to public safety and police security during the protests, as well as a potential threat to national security, the agency’s intelligence chief said to the investigation that no « specific » or « credible » threat of extremist violence has ever emerged.

Ottawa police, meanwhile, said they have laid more than 530 charges related to the occupation, including several for alleged assault and crimes committed with weapons.

Later Wednesday, another senior Ottawa police officer named Robert Drummond is also expected to appear at the inquest.


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