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How Ottawa is planning the convoy of truckers

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How Ottawa is planning the convoy of truckers

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As the convoy of truckers continues its journey across the country to Parliament Hill, Ottawa police say they are making plans in case the protest turns violent or becomes a “multi-day event.”

“We anticipate a range of potential risks including, but not limited to, counter-protests, blocking of intersections, interference with critical infrastructure, and illegal and violent activity,” the deputy chief said per Acting Ottawa Police, Trish Ferguson.

The deputy chief made the comment during a special Ottawa Police Services Board briefing on Wednesday to discuss police plans related to the protest.

Ferguson said indications are that “this will be a large and extremely fluid event that could continue for an extended period of time,” adding that the city anticipates “significant traffic delays and disruptions.”

During the briefing, Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly said plans were still evolving as the convoy of trucks and other vehicles approached, but warned that truckers could start arriving as early as Thursday and could stay through the weekend.

“What started as a simple expression or demonstration through what was called a ‘freedom convoy’ involving vehicles from across Canada over the past few days, and in particular over the past 24 hours, has dramatically changed,” Sloly said.

“There are a growing number of other interested parties who are considering, and even speaking out, coming to the nation’s capital and participating in a series of related protests and, in some cases, counter-protests,” the official said. chief. “An event of this duration and nature will have significant operational demands.”

The so-called “freedom convoy” was sparked by outrage over a vaccination mandate recently imposed on cross-border truckers, although the convoy has won support from anti-vaccine mandate groups who believe it is necessary to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and other public health issues. restrictions restrict their freedoms.

Intending to take his “fight to the doorsteps of our federal government,” to demand an end to warrants, organizers said they were staging a peaceful, law-abiding protest, and recently attempted to walk away from some of the message being amplified by some who are involved or claimed to be affiliated with the event.

Ferguson told the board on Wednesday that Ottawa police have been in contact with convoy organizers and that so far those interactions have been “productive and cooperative.”

Still, some of the online posts surrounding the event have raised concerns that the scene on Parliament Hill will become unsafe. Faced with questions about those concerns, Ottawa police said they are monitoring any threatening messages and will focus on de-escalation and “peaceful solutions” should an incident occur.

Although some organizers say there will be more than tens or hundreds of thousands of attendees, Ottawa police said they expect a few thousand attendees. However, police officials said the city still does not have a concrete idea of ​​the size of the convoy, as its size fluctuated as it traveled across the country.

Councilors also expressed concerns at the meeting about downtown Ottawa becoming a “parking lot” for 18-wheelers, which would prevent emergency vehicles from moving freely, as well as the impacts the event may have on residents who live in the downtown area.

PARLIAMENT HILL SECURITY INVOLVED

Given that the House of Commons is not back in session until January 31 and the Senate is not expected to resume until February 8 – and both plan to resume under a hybrid virtual structure – it is unlikely that any many federal officials are in the House of Commons when the convoy arrives.

Still, the Parliamentary Protective Service (PPS) told CTV News it was aware of the planned protest and was “monitoring the situation closely”.

“The Service is adjusting its security posture on Parliament Hill and within the parliamentary precinct as needed,” the PPS said in a statement.

Ottawa police said Wednesday they are working with the PPS, Ontario Provincial Police, RCMP and other local police forces and national security agencies to gather intelligence should the protests peak. in the city.

“Together with the RCMP, we will set up the National Capital Region Command Center so that all agencies are in direct, real-time communication. Our priority is to maintain the safety of our community members and participants in these protests,” Ferguson said.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE CONVOY?

As the convoy crosses the country, more attention is paid to what the group or groups that will show up in Ottawa aim to accomplish once they arrive.

Suggestions have been made that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should end all terms – despite most public health orders and evidence that immunization systems are a provincial responsibility – or, as some have demanded, to resign.

A group called “Canada Unity” supports the convoy and helps organize support. The group, which says it is made up of people who oppose “unconstitutional” COVID-19 rules, recently posted a “memorandum of understanding” on its website that is meant to be presented to politicians on Parliament Hill. Parliament.

The purpose of this document, according to the group, is to see some form of committee, including the Senate and the Governor General, created that could unilaterally revoke pandemic policies.

It is wrong to believe that this document would be binding or that it could override federal or provincial legislators. This process could not be used to see the group’s demands met, including their demand for the eradication of vaccine passports or the cancellation of fines and job cuts associated with it.

Because of the way Canadian systems of government are structured, the level of government responsible for a policy must be the one to reverse or change it, as Carissima Mathen, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, in an interview with The Canadian Press.

FEDS RESPECTING MANDATES

As the situation continues to evolve, the federal government remains committed to maintaining federal vaccination mandates as they apply to Canadian truck drivers and travellers.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra told The Canadian Press that despite concerns about supply chain issues and trucker shortages, he’s been monitoring the volume of trucks crossing the border every day since the ban came into effect. mandate on January 15 and saw no measurable reduction in the number of trucks transporting goods.

The Prime Minister will conclude a three-day virtual cabinet retreat on Wednesday afternoon and hold a press conference at 4:30 p.m. EST. He is expected to face questions about the convoy, how the federal government plans to respond and what he thinks of the organizers’ demands.

More to come…



How Ottawa is planning the convoy of truckers

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