Freedom Convoy continues in Ottawa and council asked to support Bill 21 challenge: Five stories to watch this week
A protester stands in front of vehicles parked in the downtown core, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The second week of the Freedom Convoy demonstration in Ottawa and keeping an eye on the COVID-19 situation in the capital.
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at five stories to watch this week.
Ottawa's police chief says he cannot say when the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration occupying the streets of downtown Ottawa will end.
Hundreds of vehicles have been parked on Wellington Street and through the downtown core for 10 days, with demonstrators calling on governments to end COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures. On Sunday morning, police estimated there were 500 vehicles in the so-called 'Red Zone'.
Residents living in the area have complained of harassment, loud horns and fireworks at all hours, while many businesses, including the Rideau Centre, have remained closed since Jan. 29.
This weekend, Chief Peter Sloly said the service needed an additional surge of resources to deal with the protest.
"The Ottawa Police Service, our policing partners are doing everything within the power of the Police Services Act as its been designed as legislation and as we've been resourced under that legislation. I am doing everything in my power to keep the peace, keep our residents and our businesses safe and allow a sense of normalcy to come back in the quickest and safest way possible. This is an unprecedented situation but we have learned from our experience and yes, our mistakes."
Police announced an additional 257 RCMP officers are being sworn-in with Special Constable status to assist with the staffing.
On Sunday afternoon, police said anyone attempting to bring gas, propane and other material supports to the demonstrators' could be subject to arrest. A senior police officer tells CTV News Ottawa that more enforcement is coming.
Special Council Meeting
Ottawa City Council will hold a special meeting on Monday to discuss the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration in downtown Ottawa.
Councillors will receive a verbal update from Mayor Jim Watson and city officials on the ongoing demonstration, and the city's steps to deal with the protest.
During a special Ottawa Police Services Board meeting on Saturday, chair and Coun. Diane Deans asked city lawyers about asking the government to introduced the Emergencies Act to deal with the protest. Deans even floated the idea of invoking a curfew.
Coun. Catherine McKenney has repeatedly called on the federal government to have the RCMP take over jurisdiction of Parliament Hill and Wellington Street, so Ottawa police officers can focus on policing issues related to the protest.
COVID-19 in Ottawa
All eyes will be on the COVID-19 situation in Ottawa this week, one week after non-essential businesses were allowed to reopen and as schools continue in-person learning.
Ottawa Public Health reported six new COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths to 715.
The number of people in hospital has dropped from 89 last Monday to 65 on Sunday.
As of Jan. 31, indoor dining rooms, gyms, cinemas, retail stores and other indoor non-essential businesses are allowed to open at 50 per cent capacity.
Support for Bill 21 legal challenge
Council will vote Wednesday on a motion from Coun. Diane Deans to contribute $100,000 of taxpayers money to the legal challenge of Quebec's Bill 21.
Deans' motion says Ottawa, as the nation's capital, should join the city of Brampton to support the constitutional challenge of Bill 21, and call on other big cities in Canada to join the coalition.
In 2020, Council passed a motion to officially oppose Quebec's Bill 21, which prohibits the wearing of religious symbols by certain government employees deemed to be in positions of authority while at work.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims, the World Sikh Organization and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association have launched a legal challenge to the bill.
Mayor Jim Watson has said he doesn't support using tax dollars to "fight another level of government."
Friday is 211 Day in Ottawa and across Ontario.
211 Day is a day where officials work to raise awareness of the free, confidential helpline that connects people to social services, community programs and government supports.
You can find more information about 211 here: www.211Ontario.ca.
Events in Ottawa this week
Special Ottawa Council meeting – 1 p.m.
Ottawa Senators vs. New Jersey Devils – 7 p.m. on TSN 1200
Ottawa Public Library Board meeting – 5 p.m.
Ottawa Carleton District School Board meeting – 7 p.m.
Ottawa Senators vs. Carolina Hurricanes – 7 p.m. on TSN 5 and TSN 1200
Ottawa City Council meeting – 10 a.m.
Ottawa Planning Committee meeting – 9:30 a.m.
Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins – 7 p.m. on TSN 5 and TSN 1200