Ottawa’s police chief said the capital may request aid from the armed forces to stop the ongoing anti-mandatory vaccine Freedom Convoy trucker protest, but the Defence Ministry responded saying they had no plans to get involved in the situation.
Police Chief Peter Sloly gave a briefing on Wednesday stating that the ongoing trucker protests, which began on Saturday, have become more than just an issue for Ottawa authorities.
“This is a national issue, not an Ottawa issue,” Sloly told city councillors and added, “I am increasingly concerned there is no policing solution to this,” broadcaster CBC reported.
“There is no lawful authority to seal a city, there’s no practical capability to seal a city of this size,” Sloly said and claimed that he would need at least 50,000 officers to attempt such a task. According to the Ottawa police service official website, Ottawa has just 1,480 police officers.
Sloly admitted that escalating the situation by bringing in the military was not a strategy without significant drawbacks. Wall Street Journal reporter Paul Viera quoted Sloly as saying, “Mixing them into a population in a highly volatile population … may mitigate some risk but escalate” others.
Since the remarkable comments on deploying the military to confront pro-freedom truckers, a spokesman for the Canadian Defence Ministry said they would not be getting involved. The Toronto Star quoted the spokesman’s denial of the military being deployed to the streets of the capital, who said: “The Canadian Armed Forces are not involved in law enforcement in this situation, and there are no plans for such CAF involvement”.
The statements by Ottawa’s police chief come just days after he stated that “all options are on the table” to deal with the protesters, who are demanding an end to vaccine mandates for truckers for cross border travel between the United States and Canada as well as an end to all coronavirus restrictions across the country.
In the days since the Freedom Convoy arrived in Ottawa, some Canadian politicians have begun to discuss ending coronavirus-linked limitations on basic rights, including Saskatchewan conservative premier Scott Moe, who stated that the province would end restrictions such as the vaccine passport system by the end of the month.
Premier Francois Legault of the French-speaking province of Quebec also announced this week that his government would be scrapping the idea of a tax on unvaccinated residents, claiming that the policy could lead to social tensions.
Ottawa’s local government has slammed the Freedom Convoy protestors, with Ottawa city councillor Mathieu Fleury posted a note on Twitter on Monday that he would be launching court actions to seize cash from the GoFundMe fundraiser for the protests, which has amassed over ten million Canadian dollars as of Wednesday.
“This morning I have asked the city manager and city solicitor to immediately launch court proceedings targeting the millions of dollars in funds frozen by GoFundMe so Ottawa taxpayers are not left holding the bag for these protests,” Fleury said before locking his account and making his Tweets private, which they remain as of Wednesday. Following the comments, GoFundMe actually froze the Trucker fundraiser, publishing a statement saying they were reviewing the account.
They said: “This fundraiser is currently paused and under review to ensure it complies with our terms of service and applicable laws and regulations. Our team is working 24/7 and doing all we can to protect both organizers and donors. Thank you for your patience.”