Kingston Police were among the police forces in Ottawa over the weekend ending Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, assisting Ottawa Police to restore order in and around Ottawa’s downtown neighbourhoods amid continuing demonstrations and growing public pressure for the situation to end.
According to Ottawa City Council, Kingston was one of several municipalities, along with Cornwall, Toronto, and Peel, that have committed to providing additional police officers to assist the City of Ottawa. Ottawa City Council says it has also gained additional resources from the RCMP and several detachments of the Ontario Provincial Police. Altogether, the Ottawa Police Service has requested over 2,000 additional officers to address the ongoing occupation, according to Ottawa City Council.
Kingston Police were in Ottawa as the so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ demonstrations continued in the nation’s capital. At the time of publication, those demonstrations remain ongoing, and the city streets in the downtown core of the city continue to be clogged.
While many reports from those on the ground indicate the majority of demonstrators have maintained a non-violent presence, there have also been reports of arson attacks, racially-charged fights, and there have been multiple arrests and charges laid. Conflict continues between local residents and those participating in the ‘convoy’, with residents complaining about the high level of noise the demonstrations are producing, which includes horn-honking at all hours. Downtown Ottawa residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against the demonstrators and have obtained a court injunction preventing the use of horns within the downtown area for the next 10 days.
Ottawa mayor Jim Watson announced a State Of Emergency in the city on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, ten days after the protests began, and issued a statement declaring the protest an ‘illegal occupation’. “The peace and safety of residents of the City of Ottawa, particularly in the downtown area, have been severely disrupted, virtually 24 hours a day, including those of children, vulnerable peoples, healthcare workers, long-term care centre workers, emergency workers, and other frontline workers who serve our community,” Mayor Watson said. “This illegal occupation shows no signs of ending. . . It is evident that the magnitude of this unprecedented occupation is frustrating the ability of the municipality to provide adequate and effective police services as defined by the Police Services Act and that local policing alone will not restore public order and safety to the residents and visitors of the City of Ottawa.”
In a video posted online on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, police officers can be seen seizing gas canisters and taking them to a Kingston Police cruiser. Fuel was seized under the charge of ‘Aiding and Abetting of Mischief’, a Criminal Code of Canada offence, according to police. The video appears to have been taken the night before, on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022. The police seizures of fuel formed part of escalating enforcement by Ottawa Police, which also included ticketing, some arrests, and the dismantling of structures and encampments.
Still, those assembled as part of the ‘Truckers Protest’, which allegedly began over COVID-19 vaccination mandates for transport truck drivers crossing the Canada-US border, show no signs of calling an end to their rallying. The male protester who took the video of gas cans being confiscated by members of both Kingston and Ottawa Police stated that he and others in attendance are “fighting for the freedoms of Canadians.”
On Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, Kingston Police confirmed their presence in Ottawa, but citing operational security concerns, did not disclose much more about their operations there. “At the request of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS), officers from Kingston Police are assisting with the protest in the Nation’s Capital,” said Constable Ash Gutheinz, Media Relations Officer for Kingston Police. “Due to the operational manner of the deployment that is being organized by OPS we won’t be disclosing how many officers are currently in Ottawa at this time.”
Gutheinz said that the use of Kingston Police officers would not have an effect on their primary duty to serve the Kingston community. “Our continued presence in Ottawa will be determined by the ongoing request of OPS to assist with their staffing requirements, and our ability to provide those members without affecting our main roles and responsibilities to those who live and work in the City of Kingston,” Gutheinz said.
As is typically the case in instances where police forces render mutual assistance in other municipalities, it is expected that the City of Ottawa will cover all associated costs of Kingston Police’s support.
The so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ began in late January 2022, and has seen hundreds of transport truck drivers and others in support vehicles drive across the country to Ottawa to participate in the protest. The convoy passed through Kingston on its way to the National Capital Region on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022.