Head of OPP says Emergencies Act needed to compensate tow trucks, but not to compel their services


The head of the Ontario Provincial Police mentioned Thursday the Emergencies Act was needed to indemnify the towing corporations that helped to clear the convoy protest in Ottawa in February — but Commissioner Thomas Carrique does not consider the controversial federal powers have been needed to compel the heavy autos into service.

“Many of them needed indemnification, which was not one thing that we may present them with with out making extra preparations … so when the Emergencies Act was invoked, that skill to present that indemnification was extraordinarily useful,” OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique instructed the Public Order Emergency Commission inquiry.

“Technically, may we have now compelled them? Did we offer them with info in writing that may insinuate they have been compelled? Quite seemingly. But did we even have to direct them? No, that they had willingly agreed to help.”

The matter of compelling tow vans has turn into one of the linchpin points dealing with the fee inquiry, which is investigating whether or not the federal authorities’s use of the Emergencies Act was justified.

Carrique sat down with the fee legal professionals twice this summer season forward of his testimony. Summaries of these interviews have been entered into proof Thursday.

In August, he took the view police did not use the Emergencies Act to compel towing corporations to present their services.

“The skill to compel tow truck drivers to present service and to indemnify them was delegated by the RCMP Commissioner to [Commissioner] Carrique, but it was not used to compel them to present service,” mentioned a abstract of these interviews. 

WATCH | ‘Some have been reluctant’: OPP commissioner on tow vans

‘Some have been reluctant’: OPP Commissioner says of tow truck drivers throughout convoy protest

OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique says it is not clear whether or not the Emergencies Act was needed to get tow vans to assist clear entrenched protesters out of Ottawa.

On Thursday, a fee lawyer requested if it could be truthful to say vans “have been indemnified below the Emergencies Act, but they have been not truly compelled below the Emergencies Act.”

“That’s how I might describe it,” mentioned Carrique.

One of the issues dealing with police through the occupation was shifting the vans and different autos that had entrenched themselves on Ottawa streets for weeks. At the time, towing corporations expressed a worry that they’d be focused by protest supporters. At least one Ottawa tow truck operator reported receiving lots of of calls — together with loss of life threats.

Federal authorities says deal to safe tow vans fell via

An Ottawa Police Service superintendent who helped oversee operational planning within the closing days of the demonstration instructed the inquiry on Wednesday that officers did not want to depend on powers granted below the federal act to safe tow vans.

Supt. Robert Bernier, who took over because the OPS occasion commander on Feb. 10, was organizing a police operation with the OPP and the RCMP.

He instructed the fee that the OPP had been ready to safe 34 tow vans with prepared drivers by roughly Feb. 13 — earlier than the act was invoked — as half of their plan to finish the protest.

But a lawyer for the federal authorities pushed again on that assertion.

During cross-examination Wednesday, Donnaree Nygard, a lawyer for the federal authorities, requested Bernier if he was conscious that the dedication for the 34 vans fell via.

“I used to be not knowledgeable of that,” mentioned Bernier.

WATCH | OPP Supt. Robert Bernier discusses efforts to get tow vans to filter out truck convoy:

‘I used to be not conscious of that’ — OPP Superintendent Robert Bernier discusses efforts to get tow vans to filter out truck convoy

Government of Canada lawyer Donnaree Nygard questioned Bernier, who mentioned he wasn’t conscious that tow vans have been made accessible as a result of of the Emergencies Act.

Nygard entered into the document a Feb. 17 letter that confirmed Carrique cited the Emergencies Act in his communications with towing corporations. The letter mentioned the OPP was “requiring” towing corporations to make their services accessible below the Emergencies Act.

“This is new to me,” Bernier mentioned Wednesday.

A Feb. 13 e mail forwarded to Carrique, and proven to the fee Thursday, mentioned seven corporations with 34 heavy towing services have been prepared to present services, whereas 57 corporations with 269 heavy tow vans both mentioned no or did not reply to the OPP.

The e mail mentioned the OPP was starting to look to corporations from the U.S. and Quebec for assist.

“There was loads of challenges with figuring out the quantity of tow vans that have been accessible, those who would willingly present these services, those who have been wanting to be compelled or indemnified,” Carrique testified.

“There have been considerations that they might again out on the final minute, which introduced a threat to shifting ahead with the plan.” 

Carrique referred to as the indemnification challenge “crucial.”

Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique seems on the Public Order Emergency Commission, in Ottawa, on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

In a Feb. 22 letter — written after police had moved to clear Ottawa’s streets — Carrique instructed Ontario Deputy Solicitor General Mario Di Tommaso that the towing business was “extremely reluctant” to help police and that they have been searching for “an unusually broad and excessive threat indemnification from the province for loss and injury.”

That request included indemnification for future retaliation. Carrique mentioned that may require the finance minister’s approval and would take time.

The letter additionally mentioned securing tow truck corporations’ services would have required separate agreements. Again, Carrique wrote that there was not sufficient time to accomplish that earlier than the deliberate police operation.

Carrique was proven the letter once more on Thursday throughout cross-examination.

“You mentioned it’s kind of of a semantic challenge but, in reality sir, the OPP did require towing corporations to present the services below the auspices of the [Emergencies Act], appropriate?” requested Brendan van Niejenhuis, one other federal authorities lawyer. 

“Yes, we had supplied that written path and had they failed to present these services we might have been ready to compel them to accomplish that. Absolutely,” responded Carrique. 

OPP thought vans can be blocked from precinct

The tow truck query is not the one level of rivalry the inquiry has unearthed to this point. 

In March, Carrique instructed the House of Commons parliamentary committee that officers in his intelligence unit had recognized the Ottawa protest as a “risk to nationwide safety” a few week after heavy vans arrived within the capital.

But the top of the intelligence unit, Supt. Pat Morris, instructed the general public inquiry final week there was by no means any “credible” info exhibiting a direct risk to nationwide safety.

“Everybody was asking about extremism. We weren’t seeing a lot proof of it,” Morris mentioned.

On Thursday, Carrique mentioned the “state of affairs was recognized as a risk to nationwide safety.”

But Carrique mentioned throughout his testimony that he agrees there have been no credible nationwide safety threats. He mentioned the phrase “risk” was used to point out that one thing may occur, and that the state of affairs referred to as for additional evaluation.

Canada’s spy company, CSIS, raised considerations concerning the OPP’s suggestion there was a nationwide safety risk, but Carrique mentioned any police chief ought to take a look at potential threats extraordinarily severely.

He mentioned the OPP’s intelligence studies concerning the protests, referred to as Project Hendon, flagged that there was no exit technique for the protest organizers. He mentioned that was handed to the Ottawa police.

The studies mentioned convoy organizers and contributors can be “unlikely to have the power to management, affect or self-discipline” the “fringe parts” that it anticipated may pose the largest risk to public security.

The studies additionally famous on a number of events that whereas the OPP had “recognized no concrete, particular, or credible risk with regard to the Freedom Convoy protest” or associated occasions, “a lone actor or group of people may enact a risk with little or no warning.”

According to his witness abstract, Carrique thought the OPS’s operational plan would bar the vans from the parliamentary precinct and would as a substitute use buses and shuttles to enable protesters to entry the downtown space for the protests.

He mentioned he shortly realized that was not the case.

“OPS did not seem to have a clearly communicated and documented operational plan in place, and was not working in direction of an injunction,” mentioned his witness abstract.

He mentioned he did not assume the choice by then-Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly to make public his request for 1,800 extra officers was useful.

“It uncovered to the protesters that the OPS was overwhelmed and needed help,” Carrique instructed the fee. 


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