Mayor Jim Watson has praised Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s controversial emergency powers and said he wants to sell seized vehicles to protesters
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has hailed the police crackdown on Freedom Convoy anti-warrant protesters in the Canadian capital. After the protests ended, he told state media that trucks, trailers and vehicles seized from protesters should be sold, saying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s controversial emergency powers allowed him to do so.
Speaking to CBC on Saturday, Watson praised police officers for clearing protesters from downtown Ottawa, where they had camped for three weeks protesting vaccination mandates. The protests were broken up by city and federal police officers between Friday and Saturday after Trudeau invoked the never-before-used Emergency Act on Monday.
Despite video footage showing shocking scenes of police brutality, Watson said officers had “does an outstanding job” and were “very measured in their response.” At least 170 protesters were arrested, more than 50 vehicles were seized, and the government froze the bank accounts of at least 76 protesters and supporters.
“Under the Emergencies Act, I asked our lawyer and our city manager, ‘How can we keep the tow trucks, RVs, vans and whatever we’ve confiscated, and sell those equipment to help recover some of the costs that our taxpayers absorb?” Watson told CBC.
Watson also cited local business losses as one of the reasons he would try to sell seized vehicles.
Earlier Saturday, city treasurer Wendy Stephanson said running the protest was costing the city about C$1 million ($785,000) a day, according to CTV News. “We should expose these people who caused this chaos,” Watson said in a separate interview with CTV on Saturday, referring to the protesters.
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It’s unclear whether Watson’s plan will go ahead and whether the Emergencies Act actually allows the city to auction seized vehicles. Ottawa Police have previously said seized vehicles will be held for seven days, after which they can be recovered. Similarly, the Emergency Measures Act is currently being enforced although it has not been debated in Parliament and may end up being significantly amended.
While some of Canada’s premiers have relaxed their rules on masking and vaccination since the protest began, Trudeau’s national vaccination mandate for cross-border truckers and a rule requiring Canadians to be vaccinated to leave the country remain in force.
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