Emergencies Act inquiry: Key moments in Ambassador Bridge testimony


After weeks of testimony largely targeted on the “Freedom Convoy” protests in Ottawa, the Public Order Emergency Commission analyzing the federal authorities’s use of the Emergencies Act turned its consideration to the blockade on the Ambassador Bridge to kick off this week.

The key border crossing connecting Windsor, Ont. to Detroit, Mich. was closed for every week, after protesters blockaded the bridge in mid-February, in solidarity with the truckers in the nation’s capital.

As a part of compiling a fulsome understanding about what all transpired on the busiest crossing in North America in the lead as much as, by way of, and after police cleared the blockade forward of the invocation of the Emergencies Act, the fee heard testimony from key witnesses on Monday and Tuesday.

First up was Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, who testified about efforts to restrict the affect of the blockade on locals who lived in the realm, gives for towing help that got here from throughout the U.S. border, and his considerations concerning the protesters plotting to “regroup” and are available again after the important thing financial artery had reopened.

Then the Windsor Police Service’s Jason Crowley took the stand. At the time of the blockade Crowley was superintendent of investigation companies, however has since develop into interim deputy chief. Crowley spoke about how the town’s police power tried to be taught classes from what was taking place in Ottawa, and spoke about how they cleared the blockade with backup, and with out federal emergency powers.

On Tuesday, the fee heard from Ontario Provincial Police West Regional Supt. Dana Earley about trepidations police had that transferring in to clear protesters in Windsor might worsen the state of affairs in Ottawa, and the way there was a way that the Windsor blockade was a “precedence” to resolve given the financial impacts and public security danger.

Lastly, the fee heard from a participant in the Ambassador Bridge blockade, a father and enterprise proprietor named Paul Leschied, who testified that he grew to become concerned in protests towards COVID-19 public well being restrictions previous to the “Freedom Convoy” and spoke about how members in the blockade indicated they weren’t going to depart till they achieved one thing from their demonstration.

From documented CSIS considerations that invoking the Emergencies Act might drive protesters in the direction of violence, to the stress Ontario Premier Doug Ford was feeling from main corporations to see the blockade finish—to the purpose he mused about getting all up in the OPP’s enterprise—listed below are key moments from the Ambassador Bridge-focused hearings.


One of essentially the most vital insights gleaned from Tuesday’s testimony got here in the type of a readout of a name held on Feb. 9 between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ford, only a few days earlier than police moved in to clear the border blockade. 

According to a transcript of the leaders’ name ready by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the pair mentioned typically the convoy protests, the necessity to cease them from spreading additional, and the way Ford felt that what was occurring in Windsor was “an even bigger” concern than Ottawa, because it was costing billions of {dollars} in commerce losses.

Ford prompt that extra instruments have been wanted, to which Trudeau stated the province “shouldn’t want extra instruments,” legally-speaking, however agreed that the response wanted to be swift due to the financial affect and to additionally forestall the province from turning into “a laughing stock.”

“I’m simply as annoyed as you and if I might direct the police, I might,” Ford is documented as stating. Trudeau then asks if he is saying the OPP can not help.

“I am unable to direct them. I am unable to name them and say get your a**es in there,” Ford stated. After some additional forwards and backwards on requests for help, Trudeau asks, “What are the following steps?” after which provides in reference to the OPP that they “cannot speak this out for 3 weeks. They must act instantly.”

“They’ll act, however with out directing them, it is exhausting to explain their sport plan. They’ll have a plan in contrast to Ottawa… This is essential, I hear you. I’ll be up their a** with a wire brush,” Ford then stated.

This complete change got here up throughout Supt. Earley’s testimony, throughout which she was requested if she skilled any political stress or interference whereas finishing up her duties, main the OPP’s response to the Ambassador Bridge blockade.

“No, I didn’t,” she stated.

Ontario Provincial Police Superintendent Dana Earley provides testimony on the Public Order Emergency Commission, Tuesday, November 8, 2022 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld


During his testimony, Dilkens was requested a couple of remark he made on Feb. 9: that in his view, among the protesters have been “keen to die” for his or her trigger. Asked how he reached that evaluation, here is what he stated.

“Well, there was a TV report, it was additionally reported on the entrance web page of the Windsor Star, the place—and this was very early on in the protests—that one of many protesters had stated outright, that it is a trigger that they have been keen to die for… There was a really excessive temperature on the bottom amongst the protesters. They have been very aggressive in their language and in their posture. And, it was that sort of remark, ‘keen to die for the trigger,’ that prompted police to take a extra measured method into the way in which that they handled the state of affairs. No one wanted to die on the streets of Windsor or elsewhere, protesting vaccine mandates or regardless of the protest in the end was about.”

Dilkens additionally referenced an occasion of a commissionaire attempting to implement parking guidelines being swarmed and having to be escorted to their car by police, in addition to a direct private house-bombing menace he and his household obtained throughout the time period the blockade was in place.

“It was the character and type of the spirit of the protest. It was in contrast to something I’ve ever seen, and I’ve lived my complete life in the town of Windsor. It’s in contrast to something I’ve ever seen throughout that point. And the posture and the language was, you realize, it was it was virtually as if of us wished some type of brawl on the streets. You know, they have been hoping police would interact in that approach,” he testified.

Separate, however associated: During Dilkens’ cross-examination, a lawyer representing the core convoy organizers introduced up recommendation ready for the federal cupboard by CSIS, which famous the company suggested that the implementation of the Emergencies Act would “doubtless provoke the anti-government narratives throughout the convoy and additional radicalize some in the direction of violence.” 


Despite the state of affairs in Windsor being resolved in advance of the federal authorities’s invocation of the Emergencies Act, Dilkens made it clear in his testimony that he supported Trudeau’s use of the extraordinary powers.

This was based mostly in two most important considerations. The first was messaging from some protesters that indicated they could attempt to regroup and return, requiring the town to attract on much more assets from throughout the nation. This was bolstered by testimony from Earley, who stated there “was the concern that they’d suppose that numbers have been being deployed to Ottawa after which attempt to benefit from that, and take again the bridge.”

The second main concern was based mostly in Dilkens’ perception that the border blockade had already develop into a “nationwide financial emergency.”

“There is a direct correlation to a nationwide financial emergency and I might submit, to a nationwide safety concern, and that is precisely what this was,” Dilkens informed the fee.

Not solely was Dilkens dealing with enterprise and cross-border pressures—from Michigan providing to assist set the town up with tow vehicles, to auto stakeholders alarmed concerning the provide chain impacts—paperwork submitted confirmed that Ford was feeling the squeeze, too.

“We must get that bridge open ASAP,” the premier texted Dilkens on Feb. 13, textual content logs present. “I’ve each main firm throughout me.”

Asked about this change, Dilkens stated he understood Ford’s considerations, saying that the Ambassador Bridge has “provincial and nationwide significance.”


On Monday, Dilkens was requested about assembly minutes from a Feb. 8 Windsor Police Services Board assembly that have been entered into proof. In these minutes, it was indicated that then-Windsor police chief Pamela Mizuno said that classes had been realized from Ottawa. Dilkens was requested to stipulate what these classes have been, and there was one most important lesson he recalled.

“In my conversations with the chief, the most important lesson realized was to not let this develop,” he stated. “Don’t let bouncy castles and sizzling tubs and type of these sorts of facilities come to the streets right here on Church Road and permit this to develop. So ensure that we’re coping with this, you realize, as shortly and swiftly and professionally, in a approach that as she stated offers for public security and deescalates.”

Asked if there have been efforts to include it in order that it couldn’t develop, Dilkens stated they have been in a position to forestall the state of affairs from rising by way of the usage of organising boundaries.

From the police perspective, Crowley testified that the instance of Ottawa factored into Windsor’s expectations of hesitance from tow truck corporations to become involved, efforts they made to maintain protesters off of personal property, and in how they handled the leaders of the blockade.

There was additionally some point out of the Ottawa state of affairs in the aforementioned Trudeau-Ford name, with Ford stating that then-Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly and outgoing Ottawa mayor Jim Watson “completely mismanaged” the state of affairs and by the point of that decision, on Feb. 9 Ford was of the view that Sloly had “misplaced command.” Sloly resigned lower than every week later.


On Tuesday the fee additionally heard straight from a protester who took half in the Windsor blockade between Feb. 7 and 11, who stated he was there to see for himself what was transpiring, citing a scarcity of belief in the reporting on the protests by mainstream media shops.

Protester Paul Leschied scratches his head as he listens to a query from counsel throughout testimony on the Public Order Emergency Commission, Tuesday, November 8, 2022 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Leschied testified that he felt it was a “leaderless motion,” with nobody central organizer or individual in cost, however that there was a shared sentiment amongst protesters that they wished to carry their floor, regardless of police telling them to depart close to the tip of the week-long blockade.

“I believe many of the protesters nonetheless have been of the opinion that they weren’t going to depart till some stage of feat had been made for the needs of their demonstration,” Leschied stated.

Asked then what can be thought of an achievement, he prompt having a dialog with somebody in authority, however stated he might solely converse from what he heard from truck drivers who have been there, upset concerning the vaccine mandate, and that there was no formal record of calls for.

Leschied additionally made a passing reference to him having issue accessing his checking account between Feb. 18 to Feb. 21, although he testified that he stays unclear whether or not this was as a result of it had been frozen below the provisions of the Emergencies Act, or just a glitch.


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