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Day 2 of the Public Order Emergency Commission hearings

What did we learn during the second day of the Public Order Emergency Commission with the inquiry in to the federal governments use of the Emergencies Act? Not a whole lot.

While the commissioner said this will be a fact finding mission it couldn’t have started any further from facts than it did.

Ottawa resident testified they suffer “trauma” from “phantom honking” On the second day2 of the Public Order Emergency Commission hearings while describing it was like living in something like the film series “The Purge” while councillors accused truckers of delivering a load of “microaggressions” on to Ottawa citizens.

A lady that became known as the “horn injunction lady”, Zexi Li, a 22 year-old Ottawa resident who is also a federal government employee testified that living in Ottawa during the Freedom Convoy was “something like living in ‘The Purge’,” which later was confirmed she was referencing the fictional horror movie series “The Purge” where the United States falls in to lawlessness for 12 hours in which rape and murder become legal.

“I just remember feeling like it was such a surreal sight. It almost felt like you were in something like ‘The Purge’,” Li said. “Though I didn’t often see direct acts of violence, it was…… there was a certain chaos on the streets, and that feeling of chaos and rule breaking and law breaking gradually increased as things progressed.”

Zexi Li testified she is a really friendly person and knows all of her neighbours, then corrects herself saying a good few of them. She said one of her “daily joys is chit chatting with them on the elevator” and saying hello to them on the street.

When it came to cross examination, Brendan Miller the Freedom Convoy lawyer challenged Li on her comments when she said the freedom convoy was The Purge type scenario.

Li responded by saying, “I would not say that the protests or occupation provided a Purge opportunity.” She followed up by saying it was very “reminiscent” of the and the opportunity was there for a Purge-type scenario and that the people “illegally occupying our streets felt that they had the, i don’t know if this is the right word. They had the ability to do what they wanted”.

Miller also asked Li about her interactions with the protesters, including an interaction in which Li allegedly told truckers to “go back to where the f*** you came from.” Li confirmed that she “may have” said those words.

Prior to admitting that she had confronted the protesters by cursing at them, Li told Commission counsel that protesters targeted her when she “chose not to engage with them.”

“The worst thing was that when I chose not to engage with the protesters they would blast their horns at me with a smile and then cheer in unison. They would take joy in my flinching and recoiling from the noise,” Li said

While Zexi Li didn’t personally witness any acts of violence coming from the truckers. With a huge smirk Zexi Li testified to seeing her friends and neighbours in her building commit acts of violence allegedly throwing eggs from their 10 floor building towards people on the street level below them.

Zexi Li said “Egg throwing started to occur from my building.” which is 10 floors. Her neighbours “had their little retaliation in frustration, because what else could they do.” She said she is friends with many people in that building.

Li was the principal plaintiff in an application for an injunction that was successful in preventing truckers participating in the Ottawa protests from blowing their horns late at night.

Former federal government employee Victoria De La Ronde, resident of Downtown Ottawa testified beside Li.

De La Ronde claimed, when questioned by the Commission’s counsel, that she still hears “phantom horn blowing” and gets “triggered by the sound of any horns” and “triggered by music” as a result of the protesters’ honking in February.

Nathalie Carrier from the Vanier Business Improvement Area and Kevin McHale from the Sparks Street Business Improvement Area were the following two witnesses to give testimony.

According to McHale’s testimony, several downtown Ottawa businesses that were open throughout the protests voluntarily closed their doors to avoid being fined by the City of Ottawa for breaking public health regulations.

Carrie and McHale acknowledge the federal government set up a $20 million dollars to compensate businesses effect by the protest and $10 million from the provincial government. They both said a majority of the businesses in their BIA have taken advantage of the funds.

UberEats was unavailable in downtown Ottawa during the protest, according to Carrier, while testifying. Brendan Miller the Freedom Convoy lawyer challenged her claim and said it was. She agreed it available but the were times a delivery would get cancelled.

In response, Twitter users started posting images of UberEats receipts that had been printed during the downtown Ottawa convoy protests.

Mathieu Fleury and Catherine McKenney, members of the Ottawa city council, were the day’s final two witnesses.

Fleury accused the protesters of committing acts of “microaggressions” against Ottawa homeowners and referred to the trucks used in the protester as a “fortress” and “weapons.”

“For us, having the physical truck on the street created a big weapon,” Fleury claimed.

“There were a number of microaggressions…particularly in residential communities.”

Despite using the term “microaggressions” multiple time during his testimony, when he was asked by Convoy lawyer Miller to define the word ‘microaggression’, Fleury refused to define the term in English.

Miller asked which of the words he put to Fleury he didn’t understand and listed off a few words. Catherine McKenney whispers to Fleury 3 times telling him to respond in French.

Mayoral candidate McKenney who uses pronouns they/them, wasn’t able to provide any evidence to particular acts of violence that allegedly occurred during the protest but claims that is it all hearsay and only hearing about them.

When asked about witnessing personal safety issues Catherine McKenney admits “I didn’t witness personally any acts of violence”

This contradicts against a public statement McKenney made during the protests, claiming that citizens of Ottawa were facing  “unprecedented violence” and had been “terrorized.”

On Monday, McKenney doubled down on the claim of so-called “violence” during the freedom convoy protest, despite not personally witnessing any violence McKenney this claim part of a political campaign for the mayoral election.

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Jordan is a casual reporter for BC Rise


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