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‘Freedom Convoy’ lawyer encouraged protest to continue after Emergencies Act invoked

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OTTAWA — “Freedom Convoy” lawyer Keith Wilson said he never imagined the federal government would use force against “non-violent, peaceful Canadians” when he encouraged protesters to continue to oppose COVID-19 restrictions in Ottawa after the Liberals invoked the Emergencies Act.

Wilson testified about his involvement in the protest at the Public Order Emergency Commission, the public inquiry tasked with investigating the decision to invoke the act, on Wednesday.

After the act was invoked on Feb. 14, police warned protesters they would need to leave downtown Ottawa, where several hundred vehicles had been blocking the streets for about three weeks.

Wilson and his team wrote to interim Ottawa police Chief Steve Bell to say that in his opinion, police did not have the power to prevent a peaceful protest in the downtown core.

The message from police and others “that any Canadian citizen was no longer allowed to walk in downtown Ottawa or hold a sign in front of their Parliament was not legally accurate and was against the Charter,” Wilson testified Wednesday.

At that point, “it was obvious” police were planning some kind of operation, he said.

One of the convoy organizers, Chris Barber, invited Wilson make a TikTok video with him to encourage protesters to stay in the core on Feb. 15.

“This emergency order from the federal government does not restrict Canadians’ rights of peaceful assembly,” Wilson said in the video, which was released by the commission.

He told viewers it looked like police were “gearing up,” but one way to stop that from happening was for Canadians to “come to Ottawa as soon as you can get here and stand with the truckers.”

On Feb. 18 police launched a major operation to arrest and clear protesters out of the core.

During his testimony, Wilson was asked whether he was concerned he was encouraging demonstrators to put their own safety at risk in the police operation.

“I’m a Canadian and I never imagined that our government our federal government would use that level of force against non-violent, peaceful Canadians,” he said.

The decision to invoke the Emergencies Act came after weeks of what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called an “illegal occupation” of downtown Ottawa, and tales of frustration from people living in the area, many of whom were critical of the police response.

The commission is tasked with determining whether the government was justified in triggering the never-before-used legislation. It is holding public hearings in Ottawa until Nov. 25.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2022.

 

Laura Osman and David Fraser, The Canadian Press

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Three soldiers killed in car crash in New Brunswick over weekend

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OROMOCTO – Three soldiers have been confirmed killed in a car crash last weekend in New Brunswick.

National Defence spokesman Kened Sadiku says the three soldiers from 31 Canadian Brigade Group died in a non-service-related crash near the town of Oromocto on Sunday.

RCMP say officers responded to a report of a crash at 3:10 a.m. on Route 105 in Sheffield, N.B., about 30 kilometres east of Fredericton.

They say the three people in the car were found dead.

Police say they believe the crash happened when the eastbound car swerved off the road, hit a tree and caught fire.

No other details about the victims were given.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 19, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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Sudden Death of Polar Bear Leads to Closure of Wild Canada Exhibit at Calgary Zoo

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The Wild Canada exhibit at the Wilder Institute Calgary Zoo was temporarily closed on Friday following the sudden death of one of its polar bears, Baffin. Jamie Dorgan, the interim CEO and COO of the zoo, announced the closure during a press conference, revealing that the incident occurred unexpectedly during a routine display of sparring between Baffin and another polar bear, Siku.

The incident unfolded around 11:30 a.m. on Friday when the two bears were seen engaging in typical sparring behavior in the lower pool of their habitat. Concern arose when Baffin failed to resurface, prompting a volunteer to alert the animal care team. Despite prompt action to remove Baffin from the pool, he was pronounced dead. Dorgan noted, “We removed him pretty quickly … outwardly there’s nothing obvious,” indicating that the cause of death was not immediately apparent.

A necropsy, which is an autopsy for animals, is scheduled to be performed by the zoo’s veterinary team to determine the precise cause of Baffin’s death. “We don’t know why the bear died,” Dorgan stated, emphasizing that all potential explanations are being explored to understand the sudden loss.

Baffin, along with Siku, had been relocated from Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo to the Calgary Zoo in October 2023 as part of efforts to enhance the polar bear habitat and conservation efforts at the facility. The Calgary Zoo, a prominent institution home to over 4,000 animals from various parts of the world, recently underwent a $31 million expansion, which included improvements to the polar bear habitat.

The zoo has expressed its commitment to transparency and thorough investigation into the incident. The outcome of the necropsy will provide crucial insights into potential preventive measures and ensure the well-being of the remaining polar bear, Siku, and other zoo inhabitants.

The Wild Canada exhibit will remain closed until further notice as the zoo community mourns the loss and awaits conclusive results from the ongoing investigation.

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15-year-old ATV driver dies in collision on New Brunswick highway

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A 15-year-old driver of an all-terrain vehicle has died after a collision on a Moncton, N.B., highway.

The RCMP say they responded to a report of a crash between a parked vehicle and an ATV on Highway 2 on Thursday afternoon.

Police say they believe the 15-year-old boy was driving on the shoulder of the highway when he collided with the parked vehicle.

The teenager, who was the sole occupant of the ATV, was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries and died the following day.

Police say the three people in the other vehicle were not injured.

RCMP did not release details of the speed the boy was driving at the time of the crash.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 19, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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