Event organizer

Canadian police step up arrests in Ottawa as protest organizer says leaving is safest option

OTTAWA, Canada—Large groups of policesome on horseback and others carrying assault rifles and what appear to be rubber bullet launchers, began heading towards protesters in Ottawasupported by armored vehicles.

The organizer of the demonstration Benjamin Dichter took to Twitter to urge protesters to leave and pleaded with the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) to let the truckers “go in peace.”

“One of the Freedom Convoy Canada drivers saw the windows of his truck smashed by Ottawa police, firearms being fired and forcibly dragged out of his vehicle. It’s time to go. Ottawa Police, please let the remaining trucks go in peace.

Dichter confirmed to The Epoch Times that the decision to leave was made by convoy leadership.

“We had a meeting with all the road captains and they came to the conclusion that it was the safest option,” he said.

Meanwhile, protesters could be seen making snow barricades on Wellington and Metcalfe streets to slow the advance of police towards the heart of the protest outside Parliament Hill.

Canadian military veterans protesting COVID-19 mandates are evicted by police from the protest site in Ottawa on Feb. 18, 2022. (Limin Zhou/The Epoch Times)
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Police arrest a demonstrator protesting COVID-19 mandates in Ottawa on Feb. 18, 2022. (Andrej Ivanov/AFP via Getty Images)

A Canadian veteran, whose video went viral last week when he Recount CBC reporters left the National War Memorial as it cleared the snow around it, was back at the monument on Friday and Recount podcaster Viva Frei, he dared the police to come and arrest him. Another said something similar, adding “Freedom is not free”.

Two Freedom Convoy organizers, Chris Barber and Tamara Lich, were arrested on February 17.

Barber is charged with “counselling to commit the offense of mischief”, “counselling to commit the offense of disobeying a court order (s. 127”) and “counselling to commit the offense of obstructing the police”. Lich is charged with “advising to commit the offense of mischief.”

Both are due in court on February 18.

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A protester against COVID-19 mandates kneels in front of police in Ottawa on Feb. 18, 2022. (Dave Chan/AFP via Getty Images)

The February 18 House of Commons sitting has been canceled as police expand operations against protesters in Ottawa, the Speaker of the House has said.

“In view of these exceptional circumstances, and after discussion with all recognized leaders of the party, today’s meeting is cancelled,” said a Publish on Anthony Rota’s official Twitter account.

On February 14, the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act to deal with the ongoing protests. The House of Commons is currently debating the measures provided for in the Act. While the Conservatives oppose the move, so far the NDP has come out in favor of using the law, giving the Liberals enough support for its passage once it passes.

“To deal with current threats, our government is invoking the Emergencies Act. The scope of the law is time-limited and targeted, reasonable and proportionate – and it gives law enforcement agencies more tools to restore public order and protect people,” Trudeau said. noted on Twitter about his government’s decision to invoke the law.

Ottawa Police have installed fencing and barriers in downtown Ottawa to establish a safe zone, prohibiting the movement and gathering of people in the area. The secure zone extends from Bronson Avenue to the Canal and from the Queensway to Parliament Hill.

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A protester is arrested by police in Ottawa on Feb. 18, 2022. (Andrej Ivanov/AFP via Getty Images)

Only residents or people working in the area will be allowed to enter the secure area.

“We want you to know that entering the secure area for the purpose of violating the Emergencies Act may result in your arrest and/or charge,” Ottawa police said in a statement. communicated. declaration.

Acting Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell said Feb. 17 that the secure zone includes nearly 100 checkpoints, to ensure that those who want to enter the zone for an “illegal reason, such as join a demonstration, cannot enter the city center”.

The Justice Center for Constitutional Liberties (JCCF), which provided legal representation to the organizers of the Freedom Convoy, said in a statement that it had issued a “cease and desist letter of request” to Bell.

“The Charter guarantees that Canadians are free to assemble peacefully, to express their ideas, to come together to discuss them, and to communicate them widely to others, including vigorous political dissent. These activities are fundamental forms of individual freedom. They are essential to the basic functioning of a democratic society like Canada. In Canada, people are free to discuss issues of public policy, protest and criticize governments,” the JCCF said in a statement.

“The acting police chief’s inappropriate attempts to deter Canadians from exercising their Charter rights are troubling,” added Keith Wilson, JCCF attorney and outside senior counsel for Freedom Convoy 2022.

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An armed police officer deploys to expel protesters against COVID-19 mandates in Ottawa on Feb. 18, 2022. (Dave Chan/AFP via Getty Images)

Civil liberties and constitutional rights groups have launched legal challenges against the government’s use of the Emergency Measures Act in the face of protests.

“The government’s declaration of emergency is unprecedented and seriously undermines the rights of Canadians,” Canadian Civil Liberties Association executive director Noa Mendelsohn Aviv said at a February 17 press conference. after announcing that his organization intended to sue the government over its use of the act.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) also said it was taking legal action against the government over its use of the law on February 17.

“Prime Minister Trudeau has set a dangerous precedent by invoking the never-before-used Federal Emergencies Act to deal with the current situation. The high threshold for declaring a public order emergency in the Emergencies Act has not been met,” CCF litigation director Christine Van Geyn said in a February 17 statement.

With new powers granted under the Emergencies Act, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland noted on February 17, this information is now being shared by law enforcement with Canada’s financial institutions to cut off funding for the ongoing protests.

“Names of individuals and entities, as well as crypto wallets have been shared by the RCMP with financial institutions, and accounts have been frozen, and more accounts will be frozen. Crowdfunding platforms and payment service providers have started the process of registering with FINTRAC,” Freeland told a news conference.

The ongoing protests against COVID-19 mandates and restrictions were inspired by a movement initiated by truckers opposing the federal government’s requirement that truckers crossing the Canada-US border be vaccinated against COVID-19. 19. As large convoys of trucks and other vehicles made their way to Ottawa to protest the vaccination mandate, more people joined the movement, opposing various mandates and restrictions related to COVID-19.

Many protesters have said they intend to stay in Ottawa until the warrants are lifted.

“We will remain peaceful, but planted on Parliament Hill until the warrants are finally up,” said protest organizer Tamara Lich. noted at a press conference on February 14.

Isaac Teo and Andrew Chen contributed to this report.

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