A spokesman for the Freedom Convoy protesters says the legal wording contained in the new emergency proclamation issued Feb. 15 by the federal government allows for peaceful protest, which they have been doing, and any “illegal order” to the police to stop them from protesting amounts to “tyranny.”
“Under the order, Canadians continue to be allowed to come to Ottawa with their children if they choose to engage in peaceful, lawful protest. The order only restricts people from coming to Ottawa with intention to engage in violence, lock critical infrastructure, or to disrupt trade,” former RCMP officer Daniel Bulford said at a press conference on Feb. 16.
The former sniper supervisor, who was regularly tasked with protecting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said the Freedom Convoy has been engaging in lawful advocacy and protest since day one.
“The Freedom Convoy and our supporters have always denounced violence. We only support peaceful protest. We are here in peaceful lawful protest, seeking the restoration of our fundamental rights and freedoms,” he said.
Issued under the Emergencies Act, the proclamation defines an emergency in several scenarios, including blockades “being carried on in conjunction with activities that are directed toward or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property, including critical infrastructure, for the purpose of achieving a political or ideological objective within Canada.”
Bulford, a 15-year veteran of the force who says he resigned because of the vaccine mandate imposed on the RCMP, said the federal government’s use of police to end the trucker protest contradicts what the proclamation says.
“All Canadians should be surprised, no matter your political opinions, that the federal government has resorted to such an extreme and authoritarian measure like the Emergencies Act, and that the government wants to use force against a peaceful demonstration,” he said.
Trudeau is the first prime minister to use the Emergencies Act. The act replaces the War Measures Act, which was last used by Trudeau’s father, then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, in 1970 during the October Crisis when Quebec separatists kidnapped and killed Quebec Cabinet Minister Pierre Laporte.
The act gives the state additional powers to deal with the protests and blockades, such as providing legal tools to cut funding to protesters, as well as freezing the corporate accounts of companies whose trucks are used in any blockades and removing their insurance.
Bulford said Canadians cannot allow such overreach by the governments, and it is time for them to speak up.
“We call on our fellow Canadians to come to Ottawa to exercise their legal right of assembly and protest. The more Canadians that come to Ottawa will make it harder for the government to get the police to follow their illegal order,” he said.
The Ottawa police issued a notice earlier Feb. 16, warning protesters and their supporters to leave the site or enforcement action will be taken.
Apparently Ottawa police are handing out this notice in Ottawa. pic.twitter.com/m3V1JGeg9c
— Viva Frei (@thevivafrei) February 16, 2022
“You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you will face charges,” the notice said.
“The Federal Emergencies Act allows for the regulation or prohibition of travel to, from, or within any specified area. This means that anyone coming to Ottawa for the purpose of joining the ongoing demonstration is breaking the law. The act also provides police with a number of measures including the ability to seize vehicles that are part of this demonstration.”
Vincent Gircys, a retired Ontario Provincial Police officer, said he is concerned that the government will order the police to “use violence against the peaceful protesters.”
“My personal observations, as boots on the ground here for the last week and a half, has been nothing but love, kindness, friendliness,” Gircys said during the press conference.
“I have never met so many Canadians that love one another, that feel so patriotic and kind towards one another—English, French, black, white, Jews, Muslims, Christians, people of all walks of life, in love like I have never seen before.”
Gircys also acknowledged the police officers at the protest site who have shown understanding by allowing the protesters to express their dissent against the COVID-19 mandates and restrictions in a peaceful and respectful way within the limits of the law so far.
“We recognize there is a democratic process under which change occurs, and we have no intention of acting outside the realm of this democratic process,” he said.
Gircys, who served 32 years and received an exemplary medal for his service, said the right to peaceful protest is “sacramental” in Canada.
“If that principle is abandoned, and it looks like the government is heading in that direction, the government may reveal itself as a true tyranny, and it will lose all of the fraction of remaining credibility it has left,” he said.
Military combat veteran Eddie Cornell urged fellow veterans to step forward in support of the movement.
“I’m calling on all veterans to come lend your voice to this movement, so that the rest of Canada can see that this is wrong and they have our support,” he said.
Having served 22 years in Canadian military forces, Cornell said he is speaking on behalf of veterans who have expressed “grave concerns” about the direction the country is heading.
Cornell also criticized legacy media for false reporting when veterans removed the fence placed around the National War Monument in an attempt to protect its dignity.
“The veterans also took down the gates at the monument, which was something that was very offensive to veterans across the nation. To have a monument that our soldiers in the past and our war dead surrounded by a gate—very offensive,” he said.
“So the veterans took it upon themselves to remove those barriers and protect that monument for a 24-hour period each and every day. What I saw in the media, once that story was put out, was that they tore down the gates and desecrated the monument.”
“That is totally not true. I request that all of you, please tell the truth. Don’t shape a narrative. Tell the truth. That’s all we ask,” he told reporters.