The Ford government has slammed the Emergencies Act report for “disturbing” inaction during the convoy protest

The report slams the Ford government for it

The report slams the Ford government for it

A long-awaited report on Ottawa’s decision to invoke the Emergency Act during last year’s Convoy protest criticized the Ford government for its “reluctance” to act and said greater turnout would have let the public know it was ” not abandoned by their provincial government” was a time of crisis.”

The finding is part of a more than 200-page overview of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s February 2022 decision to invoke the Emergency Act to end protests that blocked streets of downtown Ottawa for nearly a month.

In it, Commissioner Paul Rouleau said: “I find the reluctance of the Province of Ontario to fully engage in such efforts aimed at resolving the situation in Ottawa.”

Ontario was only spurred to action after the Ambassador Bridge blockade in Windsor, Ontario, and after Trudeau spoke to Premier Doug Ford on Feb. 9, weeks after the protests began, the report said.

During that call, Trudeau expressed frustration with how Ottawa officials were handling the protests, the report said.

Ford thought the Windsor blockade was a ‘bigger problem’

Ford indicated he thought the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge was “the bigger problem,” the report said.

After the blockade was cleared, Ford expressed “relief,” the report said, noting that the auto and agricultural industries “put pressure on the prime minister to resolve the situation.”

Rouleau’s report also highlights Ontario’s refusal to participate in a tripartite table with the city of Ottawa and the federal government – a decision the commissioner said was based on two beliefs.

It was up to the province to get involved visibly, publicly and wholeheartedly from the start. – Judge Paul Rouleau

One was the province’s belief that resolving the situation was the responsibility of the federal government, as the convoy “protested a federal vaccination mandate on the doorstep of Parliament,” the report quotes Ontario Deputy Attorney General Mario Di Tommaso as saying the words.

Second, Ontario argued that the situation was a police matter best left to the Ontario provincial police, the report said.

Province responsible for policing: report

On that point, Rouleau said it is the province that is ultimately responsible for effective policing in Ottawa, the report said.

“Since the city and its police were clearly overwhelmed, it was the state’s duty to get involved visibly, publicly and wholeheartedly from the start.”

Rouleau also referenced a press release in which Sylvia Jones, then Ontario Attorney General, stated that more than 1,500 OPP officers had been on the ground in Ottawa since the protests began. In fact, the OPP had only contributed 1,500 layers.

OPP Commissioners Thomas Carrique and Di Tommaso later called the disclosure of those numbers “unhelpful and unwise,” the report said.

On February 8, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson spoke to Trudeau and reiterated the city’s request for 1,800 officers “and expressed his continued frustration at Ontario’s absence.”

Trudeau agreed: “Ford shied away from responsibility and agreed to support the city,” the report said.

A day later, the city received a letter from Jones stating that the city’s request had been communicated to the commissioner of the OPP.

Watson called it a “model letter.”

CBC/Radio Canada

CBC/Radio Canada

The report includes an entire section titled “Ontario’s Absence,” in which Rouleau points out that both the prime minister and the Ontario attorney general exercised parliamentary privilege to decline a subpoena to participate in the investigation.

Still, the commission had a glimpse of the political tensions surrounding the protests, when Public Safety Secretary Marco Mendicino’s aide pointed to a call to Ontario’s Attorney General they wanted on the table at trilateral meetings.

“Can ask my boss to get in touch again [to Sylvia Jones] but last call got pretty chilly at the end [Mendicino] said we need the province to get back to us with their plan,” Mendicino’s chief of staff wrote.

“I’m not taking writs from you, you’re not my damn boss,” the staffer continued, describing Jones’ response.

Ontario says it has declared a state of emergency before the FBI

In a statement to CBC News, a spokesman for Ontario’s attorney general’s office said the province is “directly focused on providing the tools our police partners need to end the situation.”

The statement said the OPP had been providing information, deploying officers and providing resources to the Ottawa and Windsor police force in response to their requests even before the occupations began.

Ontario also declared a state of emergency ahead of the federal government’s application of the emergency law, the statement said, adding it has also frozen convoy funds from donation platform Give Send Go to hamper efforts to occupy downtown Ottawa.

Official opposition MPs in Ontario called the Ford administration’s approach “spineless” in a statement Friday.

“Commissioner Rouleau’s report confirms what was clear all along: that Doug Ford and his cabinet turned their backs on the people of Ottawa at a moment of crisis,” Ottawa New Democrats Joel Harden and Chandra Pasma said in a statement .

“They have chosen not to use the resources at their disposal to help Ottawa residents,” the statement said, in part.

“That’s not leadership, that’s spineless.”

The report contains 56 recommendations, some of which are addressed directly to Ontario.

  • The Attorney General’s Department should consider formalizing the responsibilities of its police advisers.

  • Ontario should create protocols that may be incorporated into its policing laws to compel a municipal police force to accept an integrated and unified command model for managing a major event.

  • Ontario should consider establishing a Large Events Management Unit along the lines of the Major Investigations Management Unit for which a coordinator could determine if the criteria were met and then facilitate the exchange of information.

You can read more about Rouleau’s report here.


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