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City council still looking for answers on police response to Freedom Convoy: Fleury

The Rideau-Vanier councillor says it's not enough to learn about police communications with protest organizers through court documents.
Mounted police were sent into the demonstrations to create a safe distance from what the Ottawa Police Service is calling "assaultive" protesters on Friday, February 18.

More than six weeks after the trucker convoy that occupied downtown streets for nearly a month was cleared by police, Rideau-Vanier Councillor Mathieu Fleury is still looking for answers to some basic questions about how law enforcement responded when they learned the protest was planning to come downtown.

Speaking on CityNews' The Rob Snow Show on Monday, April 4, Fleury described a council briefing the week before the convoy arrived in Ottawa and pointed to discrepancies with what councillors were told then and how the downtown occupation eventually played out.

"At the time, the police chief Sloly was under the impression that under the Charter there's a right to freedom of movement, and that's what he referred to," Fleury said. "But what we understand is that the following weekend both in Queens Park and in Quebec City authorities did not use the same tactic, which lead to a very different outcome." 

The ByWard Market and Lowertown areas in Fleury's Rideau-Vanier ward were some of the most impacted neighbourhoods in the city during the protests. Fleury is still looking for answers for his residents.

"I'd love to understand the legal environment that went into that briefing, that perspective," he said. "For us, obviously understanding the reflection and the delay surrounding enforcement: what took so long, why did it take so long?"

The councillor says now is the time to ask these questions, ahead of any future major protests coming to the city.

"What are the tools in the capital to ensure that residents can maintain a good quality of life, can continue as business owners to operate, while respecting that we're a capital city?" he said. "How do we bring some resiliency to the locals, yet understanding that there will continue to be demonstrations? But it can't take down the city like that ever again." 

Fleury also commented on recent news report that Ottawa Police officers had direct contact with protest organizers before the convoy arrived, saying that it is hard to pass judgment on that information because it is not being communicated to city council by any official channels.

"I can understand when you look at Ottawa receiving over 100 different demonstrations over the year that police liaison do have this sort of communication with organizers," he said. "Obviously we're not privy to the evolution of those communications throughout the days and weeks." 

Listen to the full conversation with Mathieu Fleury:

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