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Day 10 Emergencies Act Inquiry | Another senior officer says Emergencies Act wasn’t required

Convoy lawyer Bath-Sheba Van Den Berg showed Bernier a video of a protester being dragged behind officer lines and beaten with a rifle.

“Do you agree that the OPS officer in this video in the back behind the line is using what is actually the muzzle and not the butt of what looks like a 40mm chemical munition launch to beat a protester with?”

Bernier repeatedly refused to answer the question, defending police action that day claiming that there was “not enough for me to see what’s going on.”

On the 13th of February, OPS acting Deputy Chief Patricia Ferguson testified that tow trucks were en route to Ottawa to clear the protesters prior to the invocation of the Emergencies Act.

Kittredge then asked Bernier if he agreed with Interim Ottawa police Chief Steve Bell’s Monday testimony that the police were going to clear the protesters without the act. Bernier agreed.

“Numerous other OPP and OPS witnesses have testified that the emergency powers may have been helpful to police in various ways but they were not necessary. Would you agree with that?” Kittredge continued. 

“Yes.” Bernier said.

Bernier continued to provide evidence to the fact that the Emergencies Act wasn’t required when facing questions from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) today.

In reference to a February 13th plan drawn up by law enforcement officials to clear protesters without Emergencies Act powers, CCLA counsel asked Bernier if that plan required any additional legal powers which would have come from the Act.

“Was it your assessment that the OPS had the necessary legal tools and powers to execute that operational plan?” CCLA counsel asked Bernier.

Bernier agreed and when asked if he thought the OPS required any additional legal powers, Bernier said that the emergency powers were “beneficial, but to say ‘necessary’, I would say no.”

“At no time prior to February 14th did you indicate to any of your superiors that you require any additional legal tools or legal powers?” CCLA counsel asked.

“That is correct,” Bernier responded. 

Lawyers for the Commission pushed Bernier about the February 13th proposal, which was exempt from the Act.

“The plan that I was developing was based on existing authorities whether it be under the provincial, federal or common law authority to act,” Bernier said. “I was satisfied that we were going to have all the authorities we would need to take action.”

Lawyers for the commission questioned Bernier about the arrangements Ottawa police had taken to secure the tow trucks successfully before the act was used. 36 tow trucks were headed to Ottawa and ready to relocate trucks in accordance with the law, according to testimony from Ottawa police officials. Indicated by Bernier’s evidence, it is true.

Commission lawyer Frank Au asked Bernier, “In terms of the arrangements to secure tow trucks, were those arrangements made before or after the [invocation of Emergencies Act]?.”

“Majority of the arrangements were all done by the 13th because they were in transit to Ottawa,” Bernier said. “To my knowledge we did not have to adopt any processes under the Emergencies Act to comel any of them to follow through on their actions.”

Bernier was questioned by Commission lawyers and convoy lawyers about the use of force by riot cops on February 18 when public order enforcement action started.

Bernier blamed the “aggressive” and “volatile crowd” of protestors who confronted them in front of the Chateau Laurier for the well-documented use of force by riot police.

Bernier said, “we had to make some decisions to increase our usage of force in order to protect ourselves and properly deal with the situation at hand.”

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Jordan is a casual reporter for BC Rise


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