An Ottawa Police officer who took over as occasion commander throughout final winter’s convoy protests mentioned it’s arduous for him to know whether or not invoking the Emergencies Act was justified as a result of he by no means obtained an opportunity to execute his personal plan to clear protesters from Ottawa’s downtown.
Supt. Robert Bernier continued his testimony Wednesday morning earlier than the Public Order Emergency Commission inquiry, which is investigating the circumstances that led as much as the federal authorities triggering the never-before-used laws on Feb. 14 to finish the protest that had gridlocked Ottawa for weeks.
Bernier known as the Emergencies Act measures helpful but mentioned he was already planning to hold out a police operation earlier than the regulation was invoked.
Commission lawyer Frank Au requested Bernier whether or not he thought the federal act was necessary to take away protesters.
“Hard for me to say. I did not get to do the operation with out it,” Bernier mentioned Wednesday.
“I do not know what problems I might have had had it not been in place and utilized the widespread regulation.”
Bernier, who took over as occasion commander on Feb. 10, mentioned his crew, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the RCMP started crafting a plan to finish the demonstrations.
The occasion commander is chargeable for strategic degree operational planning.
On Feb. 13, Bernier signed off on a plan to revive public order and tow autos that have been blocking streets.
By that time, the Ontario authorities had declared a state of emergency. Bernier testified that his plan did not depend on powers granted by the provincial authorities.
Bernier was annoyed with Sloly
Bernier mentioned he tried to distance himself at the moment from Ottawa’s police chief, Peter Sloly, in order that he would have house to give you an operational plan and make choices. He mentioned Sloly was performing behind the scenes to direct operations, together with makes an attempt to shut interprovincial bridges.
Bernier mentioned Sloly needed Ottawa police lawyer Christine Huneault to evaluate his plan earlier than he authorised it.
The superintendent prompt Sloly felt challenged by the brand new plan since it threw one other plan Sloly had helped to craft out the window.
WATCH | ‘Hard for me to say’ — OPS Superintendent Robert Bernier is requested whether or not Emergencies Act was necessary
In paperwork tabled on the inquiry, Sloly denied asking Huneault to approve the operational plan and holding the method up.
“[Sloly] by no means supposed that there be any delay with the implementation of the operational plan,” mentioned a abstract of interviews the previous chief gave the fee over the summer time.
According to a abstract of an interview he gave to the fee this summer time, Bernier was “annoyed by Chief Sloly’s path, which he considered as an inappropriate interference along with his position as occasion commander.”
On Feb. 14, the federal authorities invoked the Emergencies Act. Sloly resigned the following day.
Bernier mentioned he did not know on the time that the Act was going to be invoked or that Sloly would step down.
One of the issues the Emergencies Act was meant to handle needed to do with securing tow vans. At least one Ottawa tow truck operator reported receiving lots of of calls — together with loss of life threats — from protest supporters.
Bernier mentioned that by Feb. 13, the OPP had assembled 34 tow vans with prepared drivers and had granted anonymity.
Police had promised to position police crests on the vans and to cowl different firm markings to maintain the drivers and their employers nameless, he mentioned.
Bernier advised the fee that the federal emergency declaration did not considerably have an effect on his planning course of.
Bernier mentioned Ottawa police have used current legal guidelines earlier than and because the convoy protests to good impact, with out resorting to the Emergencies Act.
He did inform the fee this summer time that the powers granted underneath the Emergencies Act helped police undertake “a a lot stronger posture at exclusion zone checkpoints,” in line with his witness interview.
“He famous that the federal emergency declaration probably helped police full the operation with much less strain from [protesters],” mentioned his interview abstract.
Bernier and representatives of the opposite police forces moved forward with what they known as the February 17 Plan. It outlined 4 operational phases: securing assets, sluggish, methodical motion to finish the occupation, protecting town core freed from criminal activity and returning town to normalcy.
Bernier advised the fee that, by that time, he had obtained all of the officers that he wanted to implement the plan, together with a number of tactical items and SWAT groups.
“Had I not had [the Emergencies Act] in that style what would it have regarded like? Hard for me to say,” he mentioned.