Ottawa police chief says ‘significant’ funding of truckers’ protest comes from US

Chief Peter Sloly says there may not be a policing option to end ‘risky’ situation

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Thursday 03 February 2022 00:25 GMT

Ottawa mayor says it’s time for protesters to ‘move on’

Ottawa’s police chief says a “significant” amount of funding for the Canadian truckers’ protest has poured in from sympathisers in the United States.

Thousands of demonstrators from across the country have occupied the city’s downtown area since last week to try and force a change to the country’s vaccine mandates.

A GoFundMe account set up to back the Freedom Convoy has raised more than $10m, but a notice on it now says that it has been paused as the website reviews it to “ensure it complies with out terms of service and applicable laws and regulations.”

“We are now aware of a significant element from the US that have been involved in the funding, the organizing, and the demonstrating,” said Chief Peter Sloly.

“They have converged on our city, and there are plans for more to come. This is putting our city and our residents … at great risk. We are doing our very best to manage this risk.”

During last weekend’s protests a number of Donald Trump and Confederate flags were flown, as trucks from across Canada brought Ottawa to a standstill.

Chief Sloly told city councillors on Wednesday that policing alone might not be enough to resolve the situation, and he may have to call on the military for help.

“This is a national issue, not an Ottawa issue. I am increasingly concerned there is no policing solution to this,” he said.

And he added: “I don’t have a singular mandate in this city, this province or this country, to negotiate the end to any demonstration. There always needs to be an element outside of the police for any truly successful end to any demonstration, particularly one of this size.”

And he told officials that it was not practical to block off the city from additional protesters who might want to enter it.

“There is no lawful authority to seal a city, there’s no practical capability to seal a city of this size,” he said, adding that he would need 50,000 officers to even attempt it.

The protests have taken place after the Canadian federal government ended a truckers’ exemption to the vaccine mandate on 15 January, which now means that Canadian truck drivers need to be fully vaccinated to avoid a two-week quarantine when they cross back into Canada from the US.

The convoy made its way from British Columbia for this weekend’s rally, which police say is expected to draw around 10,000 demonstrators.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau has said that it is the Canadians who have got vaccinated who have been protecting “the freedoms and the rights of Canadians to get back to the things we love to do.”

Supporters of the convoy have said they will be calling on Mr Trudeau to end all mandates, even though most are the responsibilities of the country’s provinces.

Despite the convoy, the federal government has said that it has no plans to end the federal vaccine mandates that apply to truckers and other Canadian travellers.

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