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Officers issued 'multiple violations' during 'Freedom Convoy' anniversary rally, police chief says

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Ottawa police and Bylaw Services officers issued "multiple violations" for driving, noise and parking infractions during last weekend's 'Freedom Convoy' anniversary rally in downtown Ottawa, according to the police chief.

Chief Eric Stubbs outlined the "violations" officers issued in the downtown area in a memo to Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and councillors Wednesday afternoon, one day after Bylaw Services told CTV News Ottawa no tickets were issued during the rally.

"This past weekend, a significant amount of officers were deployed to manage multiple and overlapping demonstrations (Convoy and pro-Palestinian protests) with several marches (including an unplanned snake march in the downtown core by convoy demonstrators), Winterlude and emergency responses," Stubbs said in the memo obtained by CTV News Ottawa.

"A significant amount of police presence was required for the convoy-related demonstration, including a plan to ensure convoys could not enter the downtown area. Enforcement efforts were clear and present."

Stubbs said police and Bylaw Services officers issued tickets for several violations during the rally, including:

  • Driving while suspended
  • Operating a vehicle with no insurance
  • Fail to surrender driving permit
  • Driving a motor vehicle with no currently validated permit.
  • Parking infraction
  • Excessive noise
  • Driving the wrong way on one-way traffic
  • There was also one tow in relation to an un-plated vehicle parked on the highway

Stubbs said police and Bylaw Services discontinued their operation Saturday evening when the crowds had departed the area.

"Around 7 p.m., reports of noise and fireworks were made to police in the area of Queen and Kent streets, and police and Bylaw immediately responded," Stubbs said. 

"Demonstrators were warned about what constitutes lawful behaviour, and they stopped this activity. Participants did not continue with any disturbances, and the group dispersed shortly thereafter. There were no further Convoy-related incidents that night."

Stubbs says two people related to the convoy demonstrators were arrested by the Parliamentary Protective Service on Sunday. One man was charged with assault, while a woman received a trespass notice, Stubbs said.

Ottawa Bylaw and city officials have said this week that no fines were issued during the demonstration last weekend, and an investigation was still open into the illegal discharge of fireworks Saturday night.

Residents and some city councillors and MPPs raised the perception of a double standard for policing demonstrations in Ottawa, noting that other protests, including pro-Palestine demonstrations and a recent trans rights protest, resulted in $490 tickets for the use of megaphones.

On Wednesday, the head of Ottawa's emergency and protective services said there was no double standard when it comes to how Ottawa Bylaw issues tickets to protesters who violate things like noise bylaws.

"I'll be very clear: there is no double standard," Kim Ayotte said in a media availability following Wednesday's city council meeting. "We're issuing tickets for violations unless there's an officer safety action identified. During the convoy of this week, we have several investigations ongoing with regards to the use of fireworks and noise-producing devices; however, at this point in time, no tickets have been issued, as it was identified that there was an officer safety issue during the convoy protest."

Chapman told CTV News Ottawa on Wednesday that police advised officers not to issue tickets at the demonstration.

"Due to safety concerns for officers attending the freedom movement demonstrations on February 17 and the risk of escalation, officers were advised by the Ottawa Police Service of safety risks and not to engage members of the crowd. As this matter is still under investigation, no further information or details related to the specific safety concerns can be provided at this time," Chapman wrote.

69 tickets issued over three years

Stubbs provided statistics to councillors on the number of Provincial Offence Notices issued during rallies and demonstrations since 2022.

A total of 69 tickets have been issued in 2022, 2023 and 2024 for shouting/noise (sound reproduction device), encumbering a highway and other offences.

Stubbs says 39 tickets have been issued during convoy-related rallies, 18 tickets during pro-Palestinian rallies and 7 tickets handed out during Public Service Alliance of Canada rallies.

"In addition to the issuance of PON’s, over 270 warnings have been issued since April 2022 at demonstrations," Stubbs said. "Approximately 150 of the 270 warnings were to pro-Palestine demonstrations, and the remaining 120 were to the other groups/demonstrations."

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Ted Raymond

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