Ottawa police used boilerplate plan used to prepare for ‘Freedom Convoy’

A senior Ottawa police officer says the service at first brought out a boilerplate plan that had been used for other downtown events when preparing for the “Freedom Convoy” protest in January, based on the assumption that it would not last beyond two days.

Acting Deputy Chief Patricia Ferguson is sharing her view of the events that led up to the protest’s three-week gridlock of downtown Ottawa as part of the public inquiry into the federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act.

She says that in hindsight, she would have given more credibility to early warnings from the Ontario Provincial Police and other intelligence suggesting the group planned to stay for weeks.

Ferguson says police were aware of those warnings, but they weighed it against other intelligence and moved ahead with their standard events plan.

She says when the weekend came and went, that’s when police realized they needed to “pivot.”

The federal Liberals declared an emergency under the act on Feb. 14, granting police extraordinary temporary powers in an attempt to clear the protesters occupying downtown streets outside Parliament Hill.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2022.

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