Ottawa police arrest two people in ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests
Ottawa police say they have arrested and charged two people in relation to the ongoing ‘Freedom Convoy’ demonstrations that are causing gridlock and massive disruptions in the city’s downtown core.
The arrests come as the number of protesters continues to decrease, with about 250 remaining on and around Parliament Hill, police said Tuesday night.
Police have 13 investigations underway so far in relation to the protests, which have closed streets in the downtown core and forced businesses to close.
On Tuesday, police arrested Matthew Dorken, 29, of Ottawa and charged him with mischief to property, they said in a release. Police said the alleged mischief happened on Saturday.
“He was not arrested at the time in order to avoid a larger confrontation,” the release said.
On Sunday, police charged Andre J. Lacasse, 37, of Ottawa with carrying a weapon to a public meeting.
Police said the number of demonstrators has decreased again on Tuesday – there are 50 people remaining on Parliament Hill and another 200 gathered nearby. They also have had eight complaints so far to their newly-established hotline, three of which will be investigated by the force’s hate crimes unit.
And police reiterated Tuesday night that “illegal activity will not be tolerated.”
“There will be consequences for anyone contravening City By-Laws, Highway Traffic Act and Criminal Code legislation.”
Ford to 'Freedom Convoy' protesters in Ottawa: 'Move on'
Ontario's premier is urging the demonstrators associated with the "Freedom Convoy" to leave downtown Ottawa, saying they need to let residents return to living their lives.
"People have to move on," Doug Ford told reporters in Ajax, Ont. on Tuesday morning. "I get it, I hear you, but we have to let the people of Ottawa live their lives."
The protest against COVID-19 and other public health measures is beginning to shrink, according to police, but many heavy trucks and other vehicles remain parked on Wellington Street and around other parts of downtown.
But Ford said the protesters have been heard and they need to allow local businesses who have been forced to close due to the demonstrations to reopen.
"There's a million people that live in Ottawa," he said. "I hear you. I hear the protesters, the province hears the protesters, the country hears the protesters.
"Now it’s time to let the people in Ottawa get back to their lives. These businesses that have been closed for a while now, the restaurants want to reopen."
Many downtown city services remain closed because of the ongoing demonstration.
'This is an occupation'
Ottawa's former police chief says officers' negotiations with organizers will be key to ending the demonstration.
"In my opinion, this is no longer a protest. This is an occupation of our city," Charles Bordeleau told CTV News at Noon. "I've never seen anything like this in my career."
Bordeleau said he thinks police have done a "tremendous job" managing the situation so far given its volatility, and face a "delicate balance" in dealing with the demonstrators.
"“The risk of things going south on you with a large crowd that is very passionate and committed to their cause is very high,” said Bordeleau, who was Ottawa’s police chief from 2012 to 2019. “So they have to be very surgical as to when and where they will escalate their efforts to start removing vehicles and effecting arrests.
Bordeleau said once police reduce the size of the group to a “small core of individuals,” they can then escalate their level of force and “forcibly remove them from the downtown core.”
However, it’s not clear when that will happen, he said.
“It will last for some time, and that’s the challenge. It’s very difficult to predict when this will end.”
Ottawa City Hall and its underground parking garage, the Rink of Dreams, and the Ottawa Public Library's Main and Rideau branches and the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Minto Sports Complex at the University of Ottawa are all closed on Tuesday because of the demonstrations.
St. Luke’s Child Care Centre and Centre éducatif Pinocchio remained closed, but Centennial Public School, which was closed on Monday due to the protest, was open Tuesday.
The Rideau Centre also remains closed, marking a third full day of closures for the busy downtown shopping mall.
Traffic on bridges between Ottawa and Gatineau has been snarled because of the protest. But health care workers trying to cross into Ottawa from the Quebec side should use the Chaudière Bridge, CHEO CEO Alex Munter said Tuesday. Police will let them through if the show their ID badges.
MPP calling for fuel, snow removal
In an indication of how long some of the truckers are planning to stay, an independent MPP is asking people to deliver diesel fuel and snow removal equipment to downtown Ottawa
Randy Hillier sent a letter to supporters saying that the truckers' most pressing need is diesel fuel "to keep up the noise, and to stay protected from the cold weather."
He also asked anyone with snow removal equipment to come to Ottawa to help clear snow, and asked others with shovels to lend a hand. The weather forecast is calling for up to 20 centimetres of snow by Friday.
'All options are on the table'
Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly says several demonstrators who were in the city over the weekend have left.
"The situation of the demonstration has scaled down over the last 12 hours," Sloly said at a news conference Monday afternoon. "We want that trend to continue until this demonstration comes to a complete end. I cannot guarantee you that right now but I can guarantee that every effort at negotiation, coordination, de-escalation, has continued throughout the last four days and will continue until the complete end of this demonstration."
Sloly says "all options are on the table" when it comes to ending the demonstration and returning the city to a sense of normalcy. He also warned anyone engaging in criminal activity that they will be prosecuted, even if it isn't immediately.
“No matter where you live, no matter where your vehicle’s registered, if you’ve come here and committed a crime, if you have committed a hate crime, you will be investigated,” Sloly said. “We will look for you, we will charge you, if necessary we will arrest you, and we will pursue prosecutions against you."
The Ottawa Police Service says it will be setting up a dedicated hotline to report any criminal activity related to the demonstration. So far, 12 active investigations are underway into various allegations, including bribery, threats, assault and dangerous driving.
Hate-motivated incidents can be reported to 613-236-1222 ext. 5015. Other crimes can be reported to 613-236-1222 ext. 7300.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said on CTV’s Your Morning Tuesday that the trucker protest is “something that we’ve never seen before,” and reiterated that official are making every effort to end the demonstration peacefully.
“Police are doing what they can to make the situation the best they can, a lot of people are frustrated and just want the trucks towed away,” he said. “The bottom line is the last thing you want to do is, when you see a fire, is pour gasoline.”
Shepherds of Good Hope 'overwhelmed' by donations
An Ottawa homeless shelter received more than 10,000 donations after some protesters harassed staff and volunteers there over the weekend.
The Shepherds of Good Hope put out a statement saying they were "overwhelmed" by the attention and support, and received so many food donations that they have reached their storage capacity and can't accept any more.
Officials from the shelter said protesters from the "Freedom Convoy" harassed staff and volunteers Saturday, demanding food from their soup kitchen, and one shelter client was allegedly assaulted.
"Every message of support has meant the world to us and seen our team through a few difficult days," the statement said, adding that it needs to tally up the donations and they will announce an amount raised later this week.
"The incidents this weekend were unfortunate, but have allowed us to share the work we do with all of you."