Ontario official says police lacked the resources to handle both Ottawa and Windsor protests


A senior Ontario bureaucrat says legislation enforcement in the province did not have the resources to handle both convoy protests that had been occurring concurrently in Ottawa and Windsor.

The feedback had been made in September throughout an change between Mario Di Tommaso, provincial deputy solicitor normal, and attorneys for the Emergencies Act inquiry. A abstract of that interview was entered into proof earlier than the Public Order Emergency Commission Wednesday.

Di Tommaso, whose portfolio contains oversight of the Ontario Provincial Police, mentioned that round Feb. 10 the OPP shifted its focus from the protesters occupying Ottawa to the standoff at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor – a call he agreed with.

“Law enforcement had finite resources and couldn’t successfully handle conditions in both Ottawa and Windsor at the similar time,” in accordance to his interview abstract.

Di Tommaso mentioned that whereas the Ottawa demonstration, which gridlocked components of the metropolis for practically three weeks, posed a major inconvenience, it wasn’t an overriding public security danger.

Meanwhile, he advised the fee, the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge was threatening the province’s financial safety.

“It resulted in vegetation shutting down and misplaced jobs, and it raised considerations from American commerce companions,” he mentioned in the interview abstract.

Premier Doug Ford agreed that Windsor needs to be the precedence, in accordance to a transcript of a name between Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made public Tuesday.

“The greater one for us and the nation is the Ambassador Bridge and the state [on the] floor there,” Ford advised the prime minister.

The OPP took over as the lead company responding to the Ambassador Bridge blockade on Feb. 9, after the Windsor Police Service (WPS) requested assist from provincial, federal and close by municipal police businesses.

Ontario, federal authorities argued over accountability

The Emergencies Act was invoked after the Ambassador Bridge was cleared on Feb. 13 following a courtroom injunction that led to the clearing of protesters in Windsor.

In his interview, Di Tommaso mentioned there was a disagreement throughout a Feb. 6 name over which degree of presidency was chargeable for the Ottawa protest.

He recalled that federal nationwide safety adviser Jody Thomas prompt that Ontario needs to be coping with the occupation in Ottawa as a substitute of the federal authorities.

Police from throughout the nation implement an injunction in opposition to protesters camped close to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 18, 2022. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Di Tommaso advised the fee he responded by stating that the demonstrators had been protesting a federal vaccine mandate on Parliament’s doorstep.

“Moreover, it was open to the federal authorities to take into account quite a lot of attainable coverage or operational responses to the protests,” he mentioned in his interview abstract. “They might meet with protesters, modify federal vaccine mandates or present vital resources for a police response.”

The convoy motion started as a protest in opposition to the federal authorities’s vaccine coverage for cross-border truckers. It morphed right into a broader protest in opposition to COVID-19 mandates, together with provincial restrictions. 

Around Feb. 8, Di Tommaso mentioned, OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique advised him that the RCMP was below huge stress.

“Mr. Di Tommaso confirmed that he understood the commissioner to be referring to stress that was political in nature,” mentioned Di Tommaso’s interview abstract.

Di Tommaso to resume testimony Thursday

His witness assertion echoed what the fee has heard already from the OPP – that the provincial police feared Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly hadn’t pulled collectively a plan to finish the demonstrations.

“Di Tommaso defined that he understands that OPP resources might have been made obtainable to [the Ottawa Police Service] a lot earlier if it had put a complete plan into place. Such a plan would usually determine what number of officers are required, how lengthy they’re required for, and their duties,” mentioned the witness assertion.

The deputy solicitor normal advised fee attorneys he felt the federal authorities’s use of the Emergencies Act was useful however not vital.

Di Tommaso started taking questions Wednesday however his testimony was reduce off after the lead fee lawyer collapsed.

Di Tommaso, one in every of two Ontario officers on the witness checklist, is anticipated to return to the fee on Thursday to end his testimony.

A Federal Court choose dominated Monday that Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Sylvia Jones, the solicitor normal at the time of the protests, won’t have to testify earlier than the Emergencies Act inquiry in Ottawa due to parliamentary privilege.


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