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Day 8 Emergencies Act Inquiry | Ottawa police had a plan ready to be executed without the Emergencies Act

During question, Steve Bel revealed in his testimony the OPP already had a plan to clear protesters without the Emergencies Act echoing the statements by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Chief Superintendent Carson Pardy in his testimony.

Bell accused Freedom Convoy protesters of committing acts of violence throughout his testimony, he even accused protesters of committing “hate crimes” and inflicting “trauma” on local residents and the city.

Miller questioned Bell on his claims of “violence” and emphasized that, despite numerous instances of law enforcement aggression against protestors, there has been no evidence to date of any violent acts by protesters against Ottawa civilians.

“Is it fair to say that when you use the phrase ‘violence’, you’re not describing any form of physical assault, are you?” Miller asked Bell.

“Physical assaults contribute to what I’m describing. I was specifically describing the violence that our community felt as a result of the culmination of actions that the occupiers engaged in,” said Bell.

“So the violence that they felt, not actual violence, is that what you’re saying?” Miller questioned.

“That is correct, not the criminal code definition of violence,” Bell responded.

Although the Emergencies Act “created a stable platform” for Ottawa police, Bell told the commission under questioning from Convoy lawyer Brendan Miller that there was a plan and it was ready to be executed without the Emergencies Act.

“So you’re saying that there were existing laws that you could’ve done the same thing under, is that right?” Miller asked Bell.

Bell responded: “We had a plan. We were going to execute that plan.”

Miller also questioned the interim chief on the conduct of out-of-jurisdiction riot police who detained protesters in large numbers in downtown Ottawa and transported them to a remote parking lot in the dead of winter without access to a car or a phone to call their attorneys.

Bell claimed he was unaware what the conditions were like where protesters that were arrested, not charged and transported out of the city.

“That parking lot doesn’t have a building where you dropped them off at, it doesn’t have a phone, it doesn’t have any of that, does it?” Miller asked Bell.

“So I don’t know what the logistics at the building were. I’d imagine it would’ve needed to have a phone so you could call your lawyers,” Bell responded. 

The risk assessment in the plan to deal with the Freedom Convoy on January 29, titled Freedom Convoy – Canada unity, January 29, 2022. Highlights the Freedom Convoy as a true grass roots movement. The plan was authored by Sgt Sean Kay on January 28, 2022

The Freedom Convoy, which is gaining support from the wider population, “is less of a professional protest with the usual experienced protesters but rather it is a truly organic grass roots event.” There are no violent threats.

During questioning from Commission counsel, Bell described the Freedom Convoy making their way across the country were in constant contact with the police before reaching Ottawa as “extremely lawful” and highlighted the fact the convoy leaders sent out messages had “peaceful” and “lawful intentions” when they arrived in Ottawa.

“Their behaviour as it’s described within the intelligence reports and the reports we had back was that they were extremely lawful. There was no anti-social behaviour that they were engaged in,” Bell said. “Beyond that, the organizers clearly stated on many occasions that their intention was to be lawful and peaceful once they came to our city.” 

Bell further testified that Ottawa police received intelligence information indicating a “low threat of violence” from the Freedom Convoy protesters during the first weekend of the convoy’s presence in the city.

Despite claims from local residents that Freedom Convoy supporters or people they saw on social media that they claim to be “far right” may be attacking Rideau Hall which is Canada’s Governor General’s residence. Bell said there was no evidence of such a threat in any intelligence shared with the Ottawa police.

“There were no threats made against Rideau Hall,” Bell confirmed for the commission. 

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Jordan is a casual reporter for BC Rise


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