Police threat assessment missed risk ‘Freedom Convoy’ wouldn’t leave: interim chief

OTTAWA –

Interim Ottawa police chief Steve Bell says in the days leading up to the mass protest in Ottawa last winter, the force didn’t have intelligence suggesting the “Freedom Convoy” would use local citizens as a “leverage point.”

Bell is testifying today at the Public Order Emergency Commission, which is probing the federal Liberal government’s use of the Emergencies Act to clear protesters.

He was a deputy chief and in charge of intelligence when the convoy began but was elevated to interim chief in mid-February after Peter Sloly resigned.

He is being questioned this morning by a commission lawyer about a threat assessment police prepared for the convoy’s expected arrival in Ottawa on Jan. 29.

The report shows police knew protesters were coming in large numbers, had the financing to pay for food and lodging and that the conditions existed for emotions to run high.

But Bell says the belief was that most of them would leave after three days and nothing in the intelligence warned that protesters would use Ottawa residents to make their point.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 24, 2022.

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