Ottawa Police Didn’t Follow Procedure For Help During ‘Freedom Convoy’: Blair – HighRiverOnline.com
In dramatic testimony on Monday, former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly called out his former boss Bill Blair, who is now a federal cabinet minister, over his claims that local police did not followed the proper procedure to get the help she needed during the “freedom convoy”. “demonstration last winter.
A summary of Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair’s interview with lawyers for the Public Order Emergency Commission was read aloud during a public inquiry hearing into the use by the federal government’s Emergencies Act on Monday.
While Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson had written directly to the Ontario and federal governments asking for more police during the weeks of protests, Blair suggested that was the wrong protocol.
The document states that according to Blair, the Ottawa Police Service and City Council were supposed to go to the OPP to request more officers before contacting the RCMP, in accordance with rules set out in the Police Act. provincial police services.
But in his testimony at the inquest, Sloly said Blair never followed that rule when the minister ran the Toronto police.
“It’s a bit confusing because in all my time with the Toronto Police Department when (Blair) was the chief, that was never the case,” Sloly told the commission Monday.
Sloly served as Blair’s deputy with the Toronto Police Service from 2009 to 2015 before becoming Ottawa chief in 2019. He resigned at the height of the protests on February 15, the day after the federal government declared a public order emergency.
Sloly said based on his hands-on experience over decades of policing, he would always go to the nearest law enforcement jurisdiction that might be able to offer help.
Blair’s interview summary also suggests that the RCMP and Ontario police were reluctant to send in more officers without a “proper plan” in place.
But Sloly said the minister never raised that concern with him in the multiple meetings they had at the time.
Blair is expected to appear as a witness at the inquest in a few weeks.
This is just one of many disputes and contradictions the commission is investigating as it examines the circumstances that led to the federal government’s decision to use the Emergencies Act.
The act is meant to be invoked when an urgent, critical and temporary situation threatens the life, health or safety of Canadians, when provinces are deemed to lack the capacity or authority to respond, and when the crisis does not can be effectively managed with existing laws.
The situation in Ottawa during the protest was a “powder keg ready to explode,” Sloly explained during two days of testimony before the commission.
Streets were blocked by protesters, creating a traumatic experience for local residents, he said. Ottawa police have struggled to keep up with the massive number of ongoing investigations during what must have seemed like a lawless time for residents and businesses, he said.
“That’s one of the reasons why in our requests we asked for additional investigators, crime analysts. We just couldn’t keep up with the intake volume, we needed additional dispatchers,” explained Sloly.
“The very ability to do the intake of complaints, the follow-up to complaints, was significantly restricted during my tenure and I suspect for weeks if not months after all the events were over.”
Sloly said he reported six threats to his own life he received during the protest, but did not receive a follow-up call from police to find out if the threats went through. of an investigation.
The investigation so far has painted a picture of conflict and confusion within police departments and at all levels of government after the convoy arrived in Ottawa in late January.
An Ottawa police attorney suggested during the hearing that Sloly feared losing his job as streets were blocked by protesters.
“Were you worried about losing your job and being blamed for what happened? Ottawa police attorney David Migicovsky asked Sloly.
The former leader categorically denied this suggestion.
“Absolutely not, sir,” Sloly replied.
“And what you were looking for was to blame someone else?” Migicovsky in a hurry.
“Absolutely not, sir,” Sloly said.
In another exchange on Monday, Migicovsky argued that Sloly was looking to blame Steve Bell, who was then his deputy leader, for not planning the protest.
He presented notes from another deputy chief, Patricia Ferguson, who made a similar accusation.
“The wise chief is looking for emails to support that I/we intentionally excluded him from seeking information about the upcoming demo,” Ferguson’s Feb. 14 notes said. The documents were submitted as evidence to the investigation.
Sloly said the accusation was “absolutely incorrect” and he took offense to it.
The former police chief confirmed he took a more direct role in the police response to the protest after losing a degree of trust in his deputies.
He said he was worried after his deputies appointed a new event commander without telling him, but he never completely lost faith in them.
The leadership of the officer who was unknowingly appointed to the position was still under review at the time after a street party in 2021 spiraled out of control following an IAAF football game. University of Ottawa, Sloly said.
Sloly has been repeatedly accused of causing confusion and dysfunction within the ranks of the Ottawa Police Service during the protest by breaking the chain of command.
Sloly said all of these accusations came at second hand.
“Absolutely everything that was claimed because there was a rumor or something that went around the station. That’s the only thing I’ve heard so far,” he said. he told the commission.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 31, 2022.