Feds dismiss suggestion they should ‘step in’ as trucker convoy protests continue

Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino is dismissing a suggestion from one Ottawa city councillor that it’s time for the federal government and RCMP to ‘step in’ to secure the downtown core, as the trucker convoy protests continue.

“Ottawa police are the police of jurisdiction when it comes to Wellington Street and the city generally, but federal public safety partners, including the RCMP, PPS [Parliamentary Protective Service], sergeant-at-arms, have been in constant communication with Ottawa police,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

The convoy has now been entrenched on Wellington Street and along other main downtown roadways for four full days, with organizers digging in and stating an intent to stay indefinitely, despite their supporters thinning out considerably since the weekend.

On Tuesday, city councillor for the Somerset Ward Catherine McKenney called for the federal government to step in.

“This is federal jurisdiction, this should be turned over to the RCMP, allowing our police services to come back into our neighbourhoods, and deal with things like dangerous driving, illegal parking, the noise, the harassment of people in our neighbourhoods, it just has to stop,” McKenney said.

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Ottawa police have indicated that local officers would soon begin to be repositioned back to their community-level responsibilities given the diminishing number of demonstrators, though McKenney said constituents are “at their wit’s end.”

Leading up to and throughout the protests, Ottawa police have been working with the RCMP, the PPS, and other regional and national security agencies that were called in to help monitor and police the area.

“I think that you’ve seen a really co-ordinated and concerted effort to ensure that there’s public safety. We recognize, obviously, that there is still visibility of the convoys and the truckers on Wellington Street, and as for any decisions that will be taken, those need to be taken independently by police services,” Mendicino said.

In a statement the RCMP National Division said that “the Ottawa Police Service is the lead policing agency,” when it comes to “the operational response to public order matters.”

Mendicino said he is aware that Ottawa residents have been greatly impacted by the continued presence of the protesters, which former Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau described to CTV Ottawa on Tuesday as “no longer a protest,” but rather “an occupation.”

“The level of personal commitment expressed by those online and on our streets is significant,” said Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly during a briefing on Monday afternoon.

The public safety minister vowed communication across all levels of government and police services would continue, saying that the safety of all is the top priority and using law enforcement would be a “last resort.”

While their stated aim is to pressure the federal government to end “all” COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health restrictions, the business of Parliament has been ticking along this week undeterred while protesters spent Tuesday afternoon playing hockey in the street outside of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Meanwhile, area residents continue to express fears about venturing from their homes given reported incidents of threatening behaviour and harassment.

“We have to remember there are two Ottawas: there is Ottawa which is Parliament… and then there is Ottawa, which is our local neighbourhoods. And my message really is that at this point, it is spilling over into our local neighbourhoods, the harassment, the torment in our neighbourhoods must stop,” McKenney said.

Federal Liberal and NDP politicians have condemned the protests and said it is time for those who remain in town to go home, while the Conservatives —currently embroiled in a caucus revolt against their leader — have been supporting the trucking convoy and its supporters. All federal parties have condemned the examples of hate and desecration that transpired over the weekend.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated that he has no intention of meeting with the protesters, amid suggestions from some that their wide-ranging grievances should be listened to.

“There is always a legitimate right to protest… But when those protests appropriate symbols that are nasty, appropriate symbols that are racist, call on violent acts towards the prime minister, result in people defecating on the doorsteps of people flying gay pride flags — rainbow flags, that goes too far,” said Justice Minister David Lametti on Tuesday ahead of a cabinet meeting.

Following question period on Tuesday MPs passed a series of unanimous consent motions condemning some of the behaviour, rhetoric, and symbols displayed in Ottawa during the weekend’s large-scale demonstrations.


Specifically, four motions were moved by Liberal MPs and passed:

That the House of Commons “deplores the use of Nazi and anti-Semitic symbols in demonstrations on Parliament Hill, and denounces their use at all times.”

That the House of Commons “condemns the display of hateful and harmful Islamophobic rhetoric by protesters on the streets of Ottawa.”

That the House of Commons “consider that the display of racist flags in Ottawa this weekend as shameful and a testament to the divisiveness and hateful rhetoric of the protests.”

That the House of Commons “affirms that there is nothing peaceful about harassing residents of Ottawa for displaying pride flags in their homes and their neighborhood. And secondly, agrees that harassment, transphobia, and all forms of homophobia that have been seen this weekend are an insult to truth and our democracy.”


A Conservative MP then moved a motion asking that the House “deplores the use of Blackface and denounces its use at all times.” It did not get the unanimous consent required after some Liberal MPs objected.


This prompted outrage among the Official Opposition benches. The Conservatives have been making reference to the prime minister’s past wearing of Blackface in the context of the condemnation of what some Conservative MPs have said are a small number of bad actors amid the convoy protests.


The Liberals spoke up to say that their objection was not to the substance of the motion, but how it was worded suggesting that there had been discussions among the parties ahead of time, as is tradition for these kinds of motion. The Liberals said if unanimous consent was sought again for the motion, they would support it. It was not.