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Ottawa | Police prepare for possible ‘freedom 2.0 convoy’

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(OTTAWA) Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs says resources, tow trucks and staffing plans are in place as the city prepares for the one-year anniversary of the launch of the ‘freedom convoy’.

On January 28 and 29, 2022, thousands of people gathered in the streets in front of Parliament Hill with large trucks, to protest the restrictions related to COVID-19 and the Liberal government.

Ottawa police say they are prepared for the possibility that the first anniversary of the start of the protest could trigger another, but Mr. Stubbs would not reveal details of what the police think in terms of planned events and number of demonstrators expected.


PHOTO DARRYL DYCK, THE CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES

Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs

“We monitor a number of intelligence lines. We talk to a lot of people, a lot of organizers,” Mr. Stubbs told reporters on Monday afternoon, adding that road closures are possible.

The loud and disruptive protests of a year ago lasted more than three weeks, and Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill has remained closed to traffic ever since.

The city council must decide whether or not to reopen the street on Thursday. While the police chief supports reopening, he also says issues need to be addressed before this happens.

“I personally think that the opening of the streets is one of the many issues that need to be addressed to ensure that there is the proper structure, programs and agencies that look after the safety of this general area,” said said Stubbs.

He added that he had been in contact with the head of the Parliamentary Protective Service, who advocated for its jurisdiction to be expanded to include the street. A committee of MPs made the same recommendation.

Mr Stubbs mentioned that no decision had yet been made, but if that happened he promised that they would work together.

The police operation to put down the protest that had taken to the streets near Parliament Hill came only after the federal Liberals invoked the Emergencies Act.

At a public inquiry into the decision last fall, Ottawa police received heavy criticism for their response.

In a statement released on Monday afternoon, Mr Stubbs insisted that the police were monitoring the situation closely and were ready to step up their operations if necessary.

“Residents and businesses will see an increased police presence in the downtown core and surrounding areas. Although there is some level of protest, we are ready,” the statement said.

“For this weekend and throughout February, we have a rolling operational plan with external agencies supporting us. We will have resource, logistics, traffic, towing and personnel plans in place to deal with any type of scenario and we will not let the conditions that brought about the February 2022 convoy happen.”

This article was produced with the financial support of the Meta Fellowships and The Canadian Press for News.



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