Organizers to appear in court as Ottawa police keep clearing protesters – Canada News

UPDATE: 11:05 a.m.

Ottawa Police say they’ve made 47 arrests so far today as they continue to try and clear protesters from the heart of the downtown core.

They also say they’ve towed 38 vehicles since Friday and have cleared a stretch of Wellington Street that runs in front of Parliament.

They issued a tweet saying the road is now clear up to O’Conner Street.

But enforcement operations continue amid a tense atmosphere, with police using batons and a “chemical irritant” as they try to disperse the crowds.

Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says police are proceeding methodically and responsibly in dealing with the ongoing occupation.

Mendicino defended the federal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act, saying the exceptional measures are targeted, time-limited and Charter guaranteed as MPs resumed their debate on the act today.

He says it has given police additional tools to restore order in Ottawa and keep the country’s borders open for trade and economic security.

Mendicino told a virtual news conference today that authorities have frozen 76 bank accounts with $3.2 million attributed to the blockade.


UPDATE: 9:25 a.m.

Police clashed with antigovernment protesters in Ottawa on Saturday, pushing deeper into the national capital and closing in on the heart of the site where they have been encamped since late January.

The second day of the massive police enforcement effort comes as members of parliament summarized debating the government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act in a bit to quell demonstrations in Ottawa and further afield.

Rows of officers clad in riot gear and carrying batons massed along Wellington Street near the Prime Minister’s Office in downtown Ottawa.

Police moved towards the protesters swinging batons at them, while the crowd pushed back amid shouts of “shame” and “freedom.”

Police later tweeted that they had arrested protesters wearing body armor and carrying “smoke grenades and miscellaneous fireworks,” noting more were found in a nearby vehicle.

The ongoing police operation prompted Parliamentary Protective Services to place the precinct under a Hold and Secure order on Saturday, limiting movement between buildings. The service notes the area is not under lockdown and staff are on hand to manage the situation.

The clashes occurred after police issued warnings to protesters to clear the area and appeared to have made some arrests.

One man who fled the melee said he had been pepper sprayed in his eyes. The Canadian Press saw a plume of smoke in the air but it was not clear if it was gas launched by the police or the protesters.

It marked the second day of a massive police operation to clear demonstrators out of Ottawa’s downtown core as the protest against the federal government and COVID-19 public health measures entered its fourth week.

In the nearby West Block, where the House of Commons was up and running, MPs resumed their debate on the government’s historic invocation of the Emergencies Act that had to be paused Friday because of security concerns.

“When I look at the role that the police have played over the last few days, you know I talked earlier about my frustration with the failure of Ottawa police, but what we saw yesterday was policing at its best in this country,” NDP MP Charlie Angus told the Commons on Saturday to a light smattering of applause.

Angus called for a public inquiry into the “national embarrassment” that led to the trucker blockades of the Canadian capital.

Angus said an inquiry is needed to determine why Ottawa police let large trucks enter the national capital and set up a blockade that included bouncy castles, while racist members of the freedom convoy harassed local residents and forced businesses to close.

He is also called for an inquiry into foreign funding of the so-called freedom convoy.

He called the leaders of the protest “racists” who belong in the “crowbar hotel.”

“We cannot be made to look like a failed state to the world,” he said.

The debate was begun on Thursday but Government House leader Mark Holland said in a Twitter post that House leaders from all parties agreed to cancel Friday’s session on the advice of parliamentary security. Holland said MPs will vote early next week on the Emergencies Act motion.

Meanwhile, some of the protest’s most high-profile organizers prepared to face charges in an Ottawa courtroom following their arrests in recent days.

This includes Pat King, one of the leading figures behind the Parliament Hill protest, who Ottawa police said was arrested on Friday.

King, 44, faces charges of mischief, counseling to commit mischief, counseling to commit the offense of disobeying a court order and counseling to obstruct police.

King, who hails from Red Deer, Alta., livestreamed his own arrest on Facebook Friday.

He was among the more than 100 people police arrested as part of Friday’s enforcement blitz.

Two other protest organizers—Chris Barber and Tamara Lich—were arrested earlier on charges of counseling to commit mischief. Barber also faces charges of counseling to disobey a court order and obstructing police.

An Ontario Court granted Barber bail, while Lich appeared in an Ottawa courtroom Saturday for the start of her bail hearing.

Justice Julie Bourgeois released Barber on a $100,000 bond and on the conditions he leave Ontario by next Wednesday and not publicly endorse the convoy or have any contact with the other major protest organizers.

King, Lich and other organizers of the so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ 2022 protests also saw a temporary freeze to their bank accounts — including Bitcoin and cryptocurrency funds — following an Ontario Superior Court ruling on Thursday.

Police say at least 21 vehicles were towed Friday as hundreds of officers — some of them on horseback — fanned out across the area to take back the streets from the hundreds of big rigs and trucks idling there.

The well-coordinated police action began peacefully on Friday, but tensions escalated as the day wore on with police accusing protesters of assaulting officers, trying to take their weapons, and in one case throwing a bicycle at a police horse. Some protesters claimed they were assaulted by officers.

Ottawa police interim chief Steve Bell told a Friday evening news conference that clearing the area would take time, but the operation was “deliberate and methodical” and police were in control on the ground.

He said no serious injuries had been reported, and those arrested had been charged with various offenses including mischief, adding that police were still urging demonstrators to leave peacefully.


UPDATE: 7:40 a.m.

Police are closing in on the heart of the protest site in downtown Ottawa where protesters have been encamped for the past four weeks.

Rows of officers carrying batons are assembled along Wellington Street near the Prime Minister’s Office.

Police are issuing warnings to protesters to clear the area and appear to have made some arrests.

Meanwhile, police in Quebec City say they’re preparing for the arrival of heavy trucks and protesters opposed to COVID-19 measures in the provincial capital today.

A planned party near the provincial legislature on Friday evening was cancelled, with a man supervising the stage setup blaming Quebec City’s mayor for the event not going ahead.

A spokesman for Mayor Bruno Marchand’s office told The Canadian Press that organizers of the convoy had the right to demonstrate but did not have a permit to put on a show.

It’s unclear how many people will turn up for the weekend demonstration near the National Assembly, amid a heavy police presence and with certain streets around the legislature blocked off by city vehicles.


ORIGINAL: 6:30 a.m.

Pat King, one of the leading figures behind an antigovernment protest on Parliament Hill is set to appear in court today to face charges related to his role in the demonstration.

Ottawa police say King, 44, faces charges of mischief, counseling to commit mischief, counseling to commit the offense of disobeying a court order and counseling to obstruct police.

King livestreamed his own arrest on Facebook Friday.

Police say King, who hails from Red Deer, Alta., will appear in court today.

King is among the more than 100 people police say they have arrested as part of a massive police operation to clear demonstrators who have been blockading Parliament Hill for nearly four weeks.

Two other protest organizers—Chris Barber and Tamara Lich—were arrested earlier on charges of counseling to commit mischief. Barber also faces charges of counseling to disobey a court order and obstructing police.

An Ontario Court granted Barber bail and Lich is set to appear in an Ottawa courtroom Saturday for a bail hearing.

Justice Julie Bourgeois released Barber on a $100,000 bond and on the conditions he leave Ontario by next Wednesday and not publicly endorse the convoy or have any contact with the other major protest organizers.

King, Lich and other organizers of the so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ 2022 protests also saw a temporary freeze to their bank accounts — including Bitcoin and cryptocurrency funds — following an Ontario Superior Court ruling on Thursday.

Police say so far at least 21 vehicles were towed Friday as hundreds of officers — some of them on horseback — fanned out across the area to take back the streets from the hundreds of big rigs and trucks that have been idling there for weeks.

The well-coordinated police action began peacefully Friday, but as the day wore on tensions escalated with the police. Ottawa Police accused protesters of assaulting officers, trying to take their weapons, and in one case throwing a bicycle at a police horse.

Some protesters claimed they were assaulted by officers and livestreamed video appeared to show several people trampled by officers on horseback.

Ottawa police interim chief Steve Bell told a Friday evening news conference that clearing the area would take time, but the operation was “deliberate and methodical” and police were in control on the ground.

He said no serious injuries had been reported, and those arrested had been charged with various offenses including mischief, adding that police were still urging demonstrators to leave peacefully.

Meanwhile, inside the House of Commons today MPs will resume debate on the use of the Emergencies Act to respond to the illegal blockades. The debate began on Thursday but Government House leader Mark Holland said in a Twitter post that House leaders from all parties agreed to cancel Friday’s session on the advice of parliamentary security.

Holland said MPs will vote early next week on the Emergencies Act motion.

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