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Emergency Act Investigation: Key Moments in Ambassador Bridge’s Testimony

After weeks of testimony focused largely on the “Freedom Convoy” protests in Ottawa, the Public Order Emergency Committee investigating the federal government’s use of the emergency law called attention to the Ambassador Bridge blockade this week. I turned it.

An important border crossing connecting Windsor, Ontario. A bridge to Detroit, Michigan, was closed for a week after protesters blocked the bridge in mid-February, in solidarity with truckers in the capital.

Prior to the activation of the emergency law, the commission said Monday as part of coming up with a full understanding of what happened at North America’s busiest intersection until, during, and after police lifted the blockade. We heard testimony from key witnesses. and Tuesday.

First, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens testified about efforts to limit the impact of the lockdown on locals living in the area, provided towing assistance that came across the US border, and helped protesters “regroup”. expressed concern about attempting to We will be back after important economic arteries reopen.

Then Jason Crowley of Windsor Police stood up. Crowley spoke about how city police tried to learn lessons from what was happening in Ottawa and how they lifted the lockdown without backup and federal emergency powers.

On Tuesday, the commission heard from the Ontario Police West Area Unit. Dana Earley said the situation in Ottawa could worsen with police moving to clear Windsor protesters, and given the economic impact and public safety risks, Windsor’s lockdown Regarding the sense that there was a “priority” to be resolved.

Finally, the committee testified from a father and business owner named Paul Receed, a participant in the Ambassador Bridge blockade, that he was involved in protests against COVID-19 public health restrictions prior to the “Freedom Convoy,” and that participants talked about how During the lockdown, they demonstrated that they would not leave the demonstration until they achieved something.

From the documented CSIS concerns that invoking the emergency law could incite demonstrators to violence, to the pressure Ontario Premier Doug Ford felt from major businesses to end the lockdown. To the point where he pondered about dedicating himself to OPP’s business, here’s the big deal. Hearing moments focused on Ambassador Bridge.

“A** up with a wire brush”

One of the most important insights from Tuesday’s testimony came in the form of a read-out of a Feb. 9 telephone call between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ford, in which police said they were at the border. It was just a few days before we were dispatched to lift the lockdown.

According to a transcript of the summit prepared by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the two generally spoke of the motorcade protests, the need to stop further spread, and how Ford feels about what’s happening in Windsor. We talked about whether It was a bigger concern than Ottawa as it cost billions in trade losses.

Ford suggested we needed more tools, and Trudeau said legally speaking, the state “shouldn’t need more tools,” but the economic impact and the state’s is “a laughing thing.”

“I am just as frustrated as you. If I could direct the police, I would,” Ford is recorded as stating. I ask if there is

“I can’t direct them. I can’t call them and say put your a**es in there,” Ford said. Trudeau asked, “What’s your next step?” And, referring to OPP, he added, “We can’t talk about this for three weeks. We need to act now.”

“They will act, but it’s hard to explain their game plan without telling them. They’ll have different plans than Ottawa. This is important,” Ford said. rice field.

This whole exchange happened during Supt. In Early’s testimony, he was asked whether he experienced political pressure or interference in the performance of his duties, guiding his OPP response to the Ambassador Bridge blockade.

“No, I didn’t,” she said.

Ontario Police Superintendent Dana Early testifies before the Public Order Emergency Committee in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.Canadian Press/Adrian Wilde

‘I want to die’ and fears of CSIS violence

During his testimony, Dilkens was asked about comments he made on February 9. In Dilkens’ opinion, some protesters were “willing to die” for their cause. When asked how he arrived at that assessment, he replied:

“Well, there was television coverage, and it was on the front page of the Windsor Star. This was very early in the protests. One of the protesters put it bluntly. Among the protesters, There was a very high temperature on the ground. No one had to die in the streets of Windsor or elsewhere protesting the vaccine mandate or the ultimate goal of protest.

Dilkens also cites instances of commissionaires trying to enforce parking rules being swarmed and having to be escorted to their cars by police, as well as a direct and personal home-bombing threat he and his family received during the lockdown. also mentioned. place.

“It was the essence of the protest, it was kind of the spirit of the protest. The posture and language were as if people wanted some kind of brawl in the streets. They wanted the police to get involved in that way,” he testified.

Another, but related: During Dilkens’ cross-examination, lawyers representing major fleet organizers brought up advice CSIS had prepared for the Federal Cabinet, saying that CSIS argued that the implementation of the emergency law was “reversible.” It is likely to provoke government power,” he said. It radicalizes the narrative in the motorcade towards even more violence. ”

Why Windsor Has Become a ‘National Economic Emergency’

Dilkens made it clear in his testimony that he supported Trudeau’s exercise of extraordinary powers, even though the Windsor situation was resolved before the federal government invoked the emergency law.

This was primarily based on two concerns. The first is a message from some protesters indicating they may try to regroup and return, and the city will need to draw on more resources from across the country. , was corroborated by Early’s testimony that “there was fear that they might think numbers were deployed in Ottawa and use them to try to retake the bridge.”

The second major concern was based on Dilkens’ belief that border closures had already become a “national economic emergency”.

“There is a direct correlation with national economic emergencies and I would submit to national security matters,” Dilkens told the commission.

Dilkens is not only facing business and cross-border pressures, but from Michigan’s offer to help set up a tow truck in the city, to auto insiders who expressed concern about the impact on their supply chain, the submissions. Documents filed showed that Ford was feeling the pressure, too.

“We need to open that bridge as soon as possible,” the prime minister texted Dilkens on Feb. 13, text logs show. “I have all the major companies around me.”

In response to the exchange, Dilkens said he understood Ford’s concerns, saying the Ambassador Bridge was “important to the state and the nation.”

Lessons from the Ottawa struggle

On Monday, Dilkens was asked about the minutes of the February 8 Windsor Police Service Commission meeting that were registered in evidence. The minutes showed then-Windsor Police Chief Pamela Mizuno said she had learned lessons from Ottawa. Dilkens was asked to outline those lessons, and there is one main lesson he recalls.

“The biggest lesson I learned from my conversations with the chief was not to let this escalate,” he said. “Bouncy castles and jacuzzis and those kinds of amenities don’t come here on the streets of Church Road and allow this to grow. In a way that provides safety and mitigates escalation.”

Asked if there were any efforts to contain it so it could not grow, Dilkens said that putting up barriers could have prevented the situation from escalating.

From a police perspective, Crowley says the Ottawa example reflects Windsor’s expectations that the tow truck company would be reluctant to get involved, the efforts they made to keep protesters off private property, and how they dealt with the lockdown leaders. He testified that he had taken into account whether he had done so.

The aforementioned Trudeau-Ford phone call also made reference to the situation in Ottawa, with Ford saying that then-Ottawa Police Chief Peter Slorley and outgoing Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson “completely mismanaged the situation.” By the time of that call, Feb. 9 Ford thought that Slowly had “lost command.” Sloly he resigned less than a week later.

Protesters describe ‘leaderless movement’

On Tuesday, the committee also heard firsthand from a protester who took part in the Windsor lockdown from February 7 to 11. He said he was there to see for himself what was happening. citing a lack of confidence in reports of protests by the mainstream media.

Protester Paul Receed scratches his head as he listens to questions from his lawyers during his testimony before the Public Order Emergency Committee in Ottawa, Tuesday, November 8, 2022.Canadian Press/Adrian Wilde

Receed testified that he felt it was a “leaderless movement” and had no central organizer or person in charge, but despite police telling him to leave near the end of the demonstration, protesters He testified that there was a common feeling among them to hold their ground, a week-long lockdown.

“I think most of the demonstrators still had the opinion that they would not leave until they achieved some result for the purposes of the demonstration,” Receed said.

Next, when asked what he considered an accomplishment, he suggested talking to someone in authority, but he could only talk about what he heard from the truck driver who was there. said he was angry about the vaccine mandate and said there was no official list.

Receed also noted that he was unable to access his bank account between February 18th and February 21st. He testified that it remains unclear whether it was due to .

Emergency Act Investigation: Key Moments in Ambassador Bridge’s Testimony

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