Military deployment to end Ottawa protests "not in the cards right now": Trudeau

Feb 3 2022, 9:34 pm

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not looking to deploy military personnel in Ottawa to clear out lingering Freedom Convoy protesters who have been accused of harassing locals and impeding local business.

Ottawa Police Service Chief Peter Sloly hinted this week that getting rid of protesters may be more of a job than police can handle. But during a childcare-related announcement in Manitoba on Thursday, Trudeau said he’s not considering sending in the army at this point.

“One has to be very, very cautious before deploying military in situations engaging Canadians,” he said. “It is not something that anyone should enter lightly. As of now, there have been no requests and that is not in the cards.”

If a formal request for military assistance is submitted either by the City of Ottawa or the Ontario government, Trudeau said his government would respond — though he didn’t say if the feds’ answer would be to send in soldiers.

“Our focus is on being there to support police of jurisdiction,” Trudeau said. “Neighbourhoods have been significantly disrupted by these protests. People going to school or work, business owners, people are being harassed for wearing masks and facing hateful rhetoric.”

Right now, RCMP officers are in Canada’s capital to support the Ottawa Police Service.

People driving trucks as part of the Freedom Convoy arrived in Ottawa on Saturday to protest vaccine mandates due to COVID-19. Thousands of demonstrators voiced their frustration on Parliament Hill, but many protesters also engaged in behaviour that many found unacceptable.

Hateful symbols including a Swastika and confederate flags were held up during the demonstration, and hungry protesters reportedly harassed soup kitchen workers for free food meant for homeless individuals.

In addition, a statue of Terry Fox was desecrated with a sign reading “mandate freedom” on Saturday.

Police say between 8,000 and 15,000 people attended the demonstration at its peak. The protesters remaining in the city are a “highly determined and highly volatile group of unlawful individuals,” Insp. Patricia Ferguson said.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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