Ottawa’s police chief is considering on calling in the military to force out protesters from the “Freedom Convoy” that rolled into town over the weekend.
A convoy of truckers and supporters began protesting in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, on Saturday over vaccine mandates and other heavy-handed COVID-19 restrictions. Many of the protesters have continued to demonstrate in the city since as city officials have attempted to extradite them.
Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly said that he is considering making a call for military intervention, among other options, to eventually force the protesters out of the city.
“This is a national issue, not an Ottawa issue,” Sloly said Wednesday, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). “I am increasingly concerned there is no policing solution to this.”
Other options included negotiations, legal action, or a political response, the law enforcement head said. He admitted that bringing in the military would come with “massive risks” and that such a move, to his knowledge, had only happened twice in the past century.
“This demonstration has been intolerable, unprecedented. The range of illegal, dangerous and unacceptable activities is beyond the ability to list,” he said.
“I don’t have a singular mandate in this city, this province or this country, to negotiate the end to any demonstration,” he added. “There always needs to be an element outside of the police for any truly successful end to any demonstration, particularly one of this size.”
The trucker convoy, at one point stretching roughly 45 miles long and consisting of hundreds of vehicles, rolled into Ottawa Saturday calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to step down or rescind a series of COVID-19 regulations, including mandatory vaccinations against the virus. A day later, police began attempting unsuccessfully to push protesters out of the city. The police department said in a statement:
Police and City staff are very aware of the complaints relating to parking, idling, noisemaking and other inappropriate behaviour. At this time, due to safety concerns, management of the protest and traffic must take precedence.
However, these matters are being responded to as soon as resources become available. Police continue to respond to calls for service throughout the city.
Throughout the remainder of the day and into the evening, focus will shift to implementation of egress and traffic approaches that move crowds and vehicles out of the downtown core. This will require a significant number of police and city resources.
On Friday, the day before the rally, Trudeau dismissed the “Freedom Convoy” as a “fringe minority” that does not represent the views of Canadians.
“We know the way through this pandemic is by getting everyone vaccinated and the overwhelming majority, close to 90% of Canadians, have done exactly that,” Trudeau said. “The small, fringe minority of people who are on their way to Ottawa who are holding unacceptable views that they’re expressing do not represent the views of Canadians who have been there for each other, who know that following the science, stepping up to protect each other is the best way to continue to ensure our freedoms, our rights, our values as a country.”