Ottawa Police Planning for Potential Freedom Convoy Anniversary Protest

by EditorT

People demonstrate as part of the trucker convoy protesting COVID-19 mandates and restrictions in Ottawa on Jan. 30, 2022. (Jonathan Ren/The Epoch Times)

By Marnie Cathcart

Ottawa will be increasing police presence downtown this weekend, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Freedom Convoy, Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs said.

The police will not be allowing any vehicle-based protests in the city, and Stubbs said the police have a “scalable” plan depending on how many protesters potentially arrive in the city.

Stubbs made the comments ahead of a Jan. 23 meeting of the Ottawa Police Services Board. He said police “will be ready” and that the ultimate goal of “all this planning and preparing is to ensure that what happened last year doesn’t happen this year.”

The city has resources, tow trucks, and staffing plans in place, if a protest were to take place.

“Our goal is not to have a vehicle-based protest, and if someone attempts a vehicle-based protest then we will take action to dismantle it fairly quickly,” Stubbs said.

“People want lawful, peaceful, and safe protests on Parliament Hill. We deal with that almost every day. It’s the freedom of every Canadian to protest and we support people with that, but if it’s not lawful, peaceful, and safe, that’s when we have to be more assertive,” he told reporters.

Last year, on Jan. 28 and Jan. 29, the streets of downtown Ottawa were filled with rigs, trucks, live music, and bouncy castles as protesters called for the government to end vaccine mandates and government lockdowns.

“How we’re going to approach a convoy 2.0 is to ensure that the downtown core is safe and that vehicle-based protests don’t occur,” said the police chief.

He added, “if pedestrian-based protests do occur … it needs to be safe, it needs to be peaceful and lawful. And that’s, of course, everyone’s right to do so.”

Wellington Street, in front of Parliament Hill, has been closed to the public under a bylaw since the convoy one year ago. The police chief told reporters he supported the idea of opening it, but in December 2022, a federal committee of the House of Commons recommended that Wellington Street become part of Parliament under federal jurisdiction and security.

The Ottawa Police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

However, a source involved with the organization of last year’s freedom convoy told The Epoch Times that organizers involved in the Ottawa protest have no plans for a repeat this year in the nation’s capital.

He said he has “heard some discussions about a freedom convoy headed to Winnipeg.”

James Bauder, associated with the group Canada Unity, originally planned a protest in Winnipeg with a stop in Ottawa, but called it off on Dec. 31, 2022, citing security concerns. Other organizers, including Ron Clark, and Tyson Billings (known as “Freedom George”) told reporters a convoy is still planned for Winnipeg in 2023.

 

Marnie Cathcart
Marnie Cathcart is a reporter based in Edmonton.

You may also like