Justin Trudeau claims the surveillance plane circulating the nations capital, Ottawa, during the Freedom Convoy was simply just a military training operation and not to spy on the demonstrators participating in the freedom protest.
Justin Trudeau was quick to accuse Conservative MPs of being “dangerously close to misinformation and disinformation” after Conservative MPs held Justin Trudeau to account for many Canadians and asked him to explain the surveillance aircraft because the military isn’t supposed to be spying on Citizens without being informed of the operation.
Daniel Le Bouthillier, head of media relations at the Department of National Defence, said that the military training flights had been planned far in advance. On Feb 10 there was a training mission and the plane was used by the Canadian armed forces that day over Ottawa.
Canada spent hundreds of millions of dollars buying a few of these King Air aircrafts with surveillance equipment installed. The planes are supposed to arrive in Canada by the summer and the Canadian Armed Forces is getting trained to use them before they are delivered.
The surveillance equipment is able to intercept cellphone calls, radio transmissions and other communications. Electro-optical sensors would also allow crews onboard the aircraft to track the movement of individuals and vehicles on the ground, similar aircraft used in Afghanistan to track and target insurgents.
“This training had nothing to do with the surveillance or the monitoring of activities,” Le Bouthillier said.
“These recurring training flights were done in order to maintain essential qualifications and currency on airborne ISR-related equipment,” Mr. Le Bouthillier said.
“Cancelling such training would have been costly and would have had a negative impact on maintaining required certifications and qualifications, and thus on Canadian Armed Forces operational readiness.”
However he didn’t get in to any details about who was operating the plane over Ottawa on Jan. 28, Jan. 29, Feb. 3 and Feb. 11. These flights were also observed by Watkins using publicly available tracking systems for vessels and aircrafts.
The U.S.-registered King Air aircraft was observed in the skies over Ottawa on Jan. 28, Jan. 29, Feb. 3, Feb. 10 and Feb. 11, according to data collected by Steffan Watkins, an Ottawa researcher who tracks the movements of vessels and planes.
“I believe their precise circular tracks over Ottawa suggest a form of electronic surveillance, not simply digital electro-optical imagery or video,” according to Steffan Watkins
“I believe their precise circular tracks over Ottawa suggest a form of electronic surveillance, not simply digital electro-optical imagery or video,” Watkins added in a separate report on the flights.
On Feb 10 Watkins reported the surveillance plane over Ottawa, a earlier King Air ISR aircraft with a tail number N330TT. Over multiple days the plane was airborne circling around Ottawa where the Freedom Convoy Protest was taking place.