It wasn’t the most confidence-inspiring of news conferences.
On the sixth straight day of the protest that has immobilized the core of the nation’s capital and harassed local residents, Ottawa officials still gave nothing approaching a timeline of when this all might come to an end.
“I can’t give you a definitive, ‘It’s one day, it’s two days. It’s one week, it’s two weeks,'” police Chief Peter Sloly told council members during a public briefing Wednesday afternoon.
No sense of an end date isn’t what anyone wanted to hear. Even more disturbing, the chief floated the unsettling idea that policing alone won’t end this mess.
The situation is fluid and potentially dangerous. Earlier this week, police apprehended and charged a man with a knife and baton.
While the number of protesters has shrunk to hundreds from thousands last weekend, those who remain set up on downtown streets with their vehicles seem determined to stay until they get what they want.
But what they want isn’t exactly clear. Some insist the national vaccine mandate for truckers must be cancelled, others such as the organizers behind a Wednesday news release want general COVID-19 restrictions — largely the provincial government’s measures — lifted.
Still others fantasize about overthrowing the Liberal government with the help of the Governor General and the head of the Senate.
Although police are in contact with some of the convoy “captains,” these folks in no way represent all of the protesters in the city. The chief said participants are associated with dozens and dozens of groups, not to mention the many “lone wolf” types who have attached themselves.
Police negotiations and finger-wagging from politicians at all levels of government haven’t convinced the hardcore to roll out of town. So it may be understandable that Sloly, who’s been open that his approach is to de-escalate and avoid violence, can’t offer an end date to this situation.
What’s far less understandable is why Sloly would float the idea that politicians need to get involved in this protest for it to end, without quite saying so or stating plainly what he meant.
‘Element outside of the police’ needed, says chief
Here’s exactly what he said: “The longer this goes on, the more I am convinced there may not be a police solution to this demonstration.”
WATCH | Ottawa’s police chief on the hurdles to a solution:
In fact, he said that a number of times. He explained that this protest isn’t a mere local event but provincial and national in scope. The demands being made by the protesters, however one may view them, are political.
And that’s not any police chief’s purview.
“I don’t have a singular mandate in this city, this province or this country, to negotiate the end to any demonstration. There always needs to be an element outside of the police for any truly successful end to any demonstration, particularly one of this size,” he said.
But asked directly by reporters what he meant, he repeated some version of his above comment. Asked if by non-policing elements, he meant politicians or perhaps the military, he responded, “I think you just listed most of them right there.”
He didn’t elaborate.
WATCH | Ottawa’s most recent former police chief on the protest:
Calling in the military is a rare and unlikely scenario, unless the situation escalates to a level of ugliness none want to see.
Sloly did include asking for military help as an option, along with calling in the RCMP (no formal request has yet been made to either), requesting more provincial police help, or filing for a court injunction.
So that leaves politicians.
It’s not clear what Sloly is suggesting. Should Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or someone in his government speak with the protesters? That’s not happening, say government sources. After all, some fly racist flags and have taken up the “F–k Trudeau” slogan.
WATCH | Some of Trudeau’s comments on Monday:
Does the chief think the federal government should open a channel to discuss reducing pandemic restrictions? Again, this seems very unlikely.
Maybe the premier should step in? But Doug Ford is in another city and besides telling protesters to leave and condemning hate symbols and disrespect of monuments, doesn’t seem eager to engage.
It is certainly possible that Sloly is right, that some agency that isn’t his force — or the OPP, or the RCMP, or the army — needs to deal with these folks’ demands. Clearly, pleading with them to leave for the good of the fed-up local community isn’t working. But it’s not responsible to float that possibility before he’s ready to be more precise.
One reporter asked Sloly if the Prime Minister needs to get involved. The chief said “That’s a question for politicians to decide.”
It was a little late to be so circumspect. Mayor Jim Watson, who was at the same briefing and is a politician, didn’t answer either.
So we’re left with no clear end date for this protest, with citizens starting to take things into their own hands by organizing their own protests, escorts and food deliveries, and with the police chief vaguely suggesting that some course of action other than policing will be needed.
Oh, and one more thing: This weekend, we expect protest reinforcements to come to town and crowds in the downtown to swell again.
If police can’t restore normalcy, then who’s got the solution?
Canada Day Ottawa: Ottawa police prepare for festivities, possible protests | CTV News – CTV News Ottawa
Police officers in cruisers and on bicycles are patrolling downtown Ottawa and the Parliamentary Precinct today, as the city prepares for Canada Day festivities and possible protests against COVID-19 mandates and the federal government.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to visit downtown Ottawa and the LeBreton Flats area over the next few days to celebrate Canada’s 155th birthday. Canadian Forces veteran James Topp will also complete his cross-country march at the National War Memorial, as he protests the remaining COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
At LeBreton Flats, there was a very strong security presence Friday morning as preparations continued for the Canadian Heritage Canada Day festivities. The Canada Day daytime show begins at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, while the evening show begins at 7:30 p.m.
Ottawa police interim Chief Steve Bell says the increased police presence will remain in place through the weekend.
“We’ve talked for a number of days about all the planning and preparation we have and the expectation of people attending,” Bell told CTV News Ottawa. “I think what you’re seeing is those plans coming into action and us being out there and vigilant around who’s attending, and trying to make sure people that understand it’s a safe place on Canada Day and you should come down and enjoy the festivities.”
On Wednesday, officers stopped a small convoy of vehicles in the area of Pinecrest Road and Hwy. 417 and several tickets were issued. Bell defended the actions of officers to stop vehicles in the capital region.
“We actually have good legal grounds for the plans we’ve put in place. We make sure that we stay on legal grounds because that’s very important as a police service,” Bell said. “We’re comfortable with the posture we’re taking and the actions officers are taking, and it’s all in the name that we ensure public safety and we can have a good, festive Canada Day.”
JAMES TOPP ARRIVES IN OTTAWA
Canadian Forces veteran James Topp will finish his cross-country march to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates this evening at the National War Memorial.
The final leg of his journey began at 1811 Robertson Road at 10 a.m. Topp is scheduled to arrive at Hog’s Back Park at 1:30 p.m. and finish his march at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at 6 p.m.
“We have been in contact with Mr. Topp and his group and have plans in place to ensure that he can safely and lawfully move from the west end of the city down to the Parliament Hill buildings,” interim chief Bell said on Monday.
Speaking in Ottawa last week, Topp said a number of groups that formed out of the Freedom Convoy had come together to protest the federal government.
“What I would like to see with the establishment of C3 – the Canadian Citizens Coalition is for us to have further conversations about the way forward, about the way of the future, of what we see Canada being and becoming,” said Topp.
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds will not be taking part in Canada Day festivities in Ottawa.
The Royal Canadian Air Force announced the Snowbirds fly-past over Ottawa on Friday has been cancelled, following a problem with the aircraft’s emergency ejection parachute that grounded the fleet for nearly a week.
Visitors to Parliament Hill will need to pass through a security checkpoint, and be searched by a Parliamentary Protective Service officer.
A sign on the fence along Wellington Street says several items are restricted, including tables, speakers, barbecues, aerosols, weapons, fireworks and sporting equipment.
MOTOR VEHICLE CONTROL ZONE
A motor vehicle control zone remains in effect around the Parliamentary Precinct, downtown Ottawa and roads near LeBreton Flats.
The zone stretches from Colonel By Drive/Sussex Drive in the east, Booth Street in the west, Laurier Avenue in the south and Wellington Street in the north, along with the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and Albert Street west of Booth Street.
The roads in the motor vehicle control zone are not closed today; however, motor vehicles taking part in any form of demonstration, event or protest will not be permitted in the area. There will be no on-street parking or stopping on roads in the control zone.
The city of Ottawa says a motor vehicle control zone will be in effect from Wednesday at 8 a.m. until July 4 at 6 a.m. (City of Ottawa/Twitter)
TICKETING AND TOWING VEHICLES
Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services says officers are out ensuring all parking regulations are observed in the motor vehicle control zone.
“All vehicles found failing to observe the no-stopping zones will be ticketed and towed. Parking time limits and no parking zones outside the centre core will also be strictly enforced,” the city said.
Between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Ottawa Bylaw says 120 parking tickets were issued and 28 vehicles were towed in the vehicle control zone.
Ottawa Bylaw will also be focusing on the following bylaws to ensure residents and visitors obey the rules over the Canada Day weekend.
- No unnecessary motor-vehicle or other noise, including speakers or shouting
- No unnecessary motor-vehicle idling
- No encumbering a sidewalk or roadway by any means, including setting up tents or other illegal structures
- No public urination and defecation
- No open air fires
- No littering
- Discharging of fireworks – contravening any regulations under Fireworks By-Law.
Ottawa City Hall and the underground municipal parking facility will be closed all weekend.
City Hall and the parking structure will be closed from 5 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. on Monday.
Tips for starting online betting safely
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Choose a safe betting site
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Spouse of gunman to testify at N.S. shooting hearings but won’t be cross-examined
HALIFAX — The spouse of the gunman in the Nova Scotia mass shooting will testify mid-July before a public inquiry, but she won’t face direct questions from lawyers representing victims’ families.
Lisa Banfield, on the advice of her lawyers, had initially refused to speak under oath at the hearings into the 22 killings carried out by her spouse on April 18-19, 2020.
However, she changed her stance after a criminal charge laid against her for supplying ammunition to the killer was referred to restorative justice.
The public inquiry said today in a news release that due to Banfield’s status as a “survivor of the perpetrator’s violence,” only the inquiry’s lawyer will be asking her questions during her July 15 appearance.
Josh Bryson, a lawyer for the family of victims Peter and Joy Bond, says his clients are losing faith in the credibility of the inquiry.
Bryson says the families’ lawyers have been polite and respectful throughout the hearings, adding that it is frustrating to be denied the opportunity to pose direct questions to key witnesses.
“Cross-examination can make or break a witness’s evidence … You test the evidence in a meaningful and trauma-informed way,” he said in an interview today.
The inquiry has also refused to allow cross-examination of Staff Sgt. Brian Rehill and Staff Sgt. Andy O’Brien, who were the first RCMP managers overseeing the response to the shootings.
Emily Hill, senior commission counsel, says participatinglawyers can submit their questions in advance and can provide follow-up questions to the inquiry’s lawyer to ask during the single day set aside to hear Banfield.
Banfield’s evidence could provide further information about the killer’s personal history and state of mind and may also be key to the commission’s mandate to examine the “role of gender-based and intimate-partner violence” in the killer’s actions.
The inquiry has heard she was the last person with the gunman before he went on his rampage. The killer allegedly assaulted her and confined her in a car, but she managed to escape. She fled into the woods and hid before emerging the next morning and telling police the killer was driving a replica RCMP vehicle.
The RCMP have said from the outset that Banfield wasn’t aware of her spouse’s intentions when she provided him with ammunition, but they proceeded with charges alleging she, her brother and her brother-in-law had illegally transferred ammunition to the killer.
During a briefing this morning, the commission confirmed that senior RCMP officers, including Supt. Darren Campbell, Chief Supt. Chris Leather, assistant commissioner Lee Bergerman and Commissioner Brenda Lucki will testify in July and August — under oath and subject to cross-examination.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2022.
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