Despite earlier allegations by unnamed sources, Ottawa Police interim chief Steve Bell admitted before a parliamentary committee on Thursday that no loaded firearms had been seized during the crackdown on the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa last month.
Bell, who had been tasked with ending the convoy protests after former chief Peter Sloly resigned, made the admission under questioning by Conservative MP Dane Lloyd during a Commons public safety committee.
“In Ottawa during the protest clearing operation were any loaded shotguns found in the trucks of protestors?” asked Lloyd.
“What I can indicate is throughout the protest, we did receive information and intelligence around weapons and possession of weapons by people that either had attended or intended on attending the occupation,” said Bell. “As a result of clearing, at no point did we make any firearm-related charges, yet there are investigations that continue in relations to weapons possession at the occupation.”
Lloyd continued to press Bell on the matter, asking for a clear yes or no response to the question.
“I guess, yes or no, Interim Chief – were loaded firearms found in the trucks during the protest clearing operation? Yes or no?” said Lloyd.
“There have been no charges laid to date in relation to weapons at the occupation site,” responded Bell.
“It’s just a clear question, Interim Chief. Were weapons found? Were loaded firearms found? Yes or no?” asked Lloyd once more.
“No, not relating to any charges at this point,” said Bell.
In February, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act to quash peaceful convoy protests, which were heading into their third week in Ottawa. Among several allegations politicians and legacy media were spreading about the protesters to justify the heavy-handed measure was that police had discovered loaded firearms on the site.
As recently as Mar. 19 freelance journalist Justin Ling repeated the claim that “loaded shotguns were found” by police.
Bell is the latest official to poke holes in the Liberal government’s narrative around the Freedom Convoy. A number of other key testimonies have disputed claims of terrorism and foreign funding.
According to Freedom Convoy co-organizer and ex-RCMP officer Daniel Bulford, “nefarious elements” had allegedly planned to plant stolen weapons among the convoy truckers in an effort to discredit the movement.