Public Order highlights: Friday, October 14

On Friday, October 14, the Commission heard from two local residents who described their experiences living in the downtown core during the protest. The Commission also heard from two people working with businesses affected by the protests. Finally, the Commission heard from two city councillors regarding the efforts of the city council to deal with the traffic congestion and other problems caused by parked vehicles. Some highlights from today's testimony:

Zexi Li – Ottawa Citizen/Government Employee

Ms. Li stated that the protests constituted a “purge-like scenario”. On cross-examination, she admitted that she told protesters to “go back to where the fuck you are from”. She stated that she did not observe anything that could be considered “sabotage or espionage”.  When asked about her safety, she said “I wouldn’t say I felt unsafe. But I didn’t feel safe.”  She described an incident where people in her building threw eggs at the truckers and the protesters. Finally, she agreed that she did not observe acts of violence.

Nathalie Carrier – Executive Director of the Sparks Street Business Improvement Area

Ms. Carrier stated that some protesters were "lovely" and that they were not a "homogenous group.” With respect to the negative impacts of local business, she testified that: “Protesters had catering tables outside restaurants." "They were offering free hot dogs and chocolates", but businesses that attempted to stay open were "not getting any business.”

Katherine McKenney – City Councillor

Councillor McKenney stated that “I personally didn’t witness any acts of violence. I was told about them.” Ms. McKenney claimed that she heard about an act of arson, but on cross-examination, admitted the media reports noted that the arson was not related to convoy participants.  She claimed she did not agree with these media reports, however.

Mathieu Fleury – Ottawa City Councillor

Councillor Fleury described the trucks that participated in the convoy as “weapons” and that their presence caused “microaggressions.” He stated that he heard that a homeless person was beaten during the protests, but when pressed on cross-examination, could not verify the claim.

When asked about allocating policing resources, he claimed that Ottawa Police “Need to protect and serve residents of Ottawa, not demonstrators who come to our city.”

Asked to expand on this claim that trucks are weapons, he said “The physical nature of the vehicles is a fortress, is a weapon”.

It is important to recall that, in order to justify its declaration of a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act, the government must establish, on reasonable grounds, that a public order emergency exists and necessitates the taking of special temporary measures for dealing with the emergency. The definition of a public order emergency is an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada and that is so serious as to be a national emergency.

Threats to the security of Canada is defined, in the Canadian Security Intelligence Services Act as: (a) espionage or sabotage that is against Canada or is detrimental to the interests of Canada or activities directed toward or in support of such espionage or sabotage, (b) foreign influenced activities within or relating to Canada that are detrimental to the interests of Canada and are clandestine or deceptive or involve a threat to any person, (c) activities within or relating to Canada directed toward or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political, religious or ideological objective within Canada or a foreign state, and (d) activities directed toward undermining by covert unlawful acts, or directed toward or intended ultimately to lead to the destruction or overthrow by violence of, the constitutionally established system of government in Canada.

*All quotes are subject to revision as Commission video and transcripts become available.

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