Ottawa Police Service (OPS) interim chief Steve Bell has told parliamentarians his force did not request the Trudeau government invoke the Emergencies Act before cracking down on Freedom Convoy protests in February.
Bell made the revelation during a Commons house affairs committee meeting on Tuesday when questioned by Conservative MP Andrew Scheer.
“Did the Ottawa police make a request to the federal government to invoke the Emergencies Measures Act? Yes or no?” asked Scheer.
“So, we were involved in conversations with our partners and the political ministries,” Bell answered. “We didn’t make a direct request for the Emergencies Act.”
Bell’s statement comes only days after RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki also told the inquiry tasked with investigating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s use of emergency powers that the federal policing agency made no such request.
“No, there was never a question of requesting the Emergencies Act,” said Lucki last week.
Since Trudeau invoked the act in February, members of the Liberal government – including Trudeau himself – have repeatedly tried to justify the decision by claiming that law enforcement called on the government to invoke emergency powers.
“When illegal blockades hurt workers and endangered public safety, police were clear that they needed tools not held by any federal, provincial or territorial law,” Trudeau said on Apr. 27. “It was only after we got advice from law enforcement that we invoked the Emergencies Act.”
“We had to invoke the Emergencies Act and we did so on the basis of non-partisan professional advice from law enforcement,” said public safety minister Marco Mendicino.
The claim is one among many in a growing list of debunked accusations flung at the Freedom Convoy by the Liberal government.
Accusations that the convoy was foreign funded have also been refuted by executives with funding platforms and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).
“It was their own money. It wasn’t cash that funded terrorism or was in any way money laundering,” said FINTRAC deputy director of intelligence Barry MacKillop.
During a Feb. 18 press conference during the crackdown on the Freedom Convoy, Bell said that powers granted under the Emergencies Act, plus Ontario and Ottawa states of emergency and existing laws had all been used to conduct operations.
“Without these authorities, we wouldn’t have been able to do the work we are doing today,” he said.