A week after the protest in downtown Ottawa was cleared by law enforcement, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) announced on Feb. 27 the arrest of a participant located one hour east of the Canadian capital.
The OPS said Steeve Charland, 48, of Grenville, Quebec, was arrested by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in the Vankleek Hill area.
Charland has been charged with mischief and counselling to commit the offence of mischief. He was due to appear in court on Feb. 27, said the OPS in a statement.
Other individuals involved in the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa face similar charges and some have not been granted bail, including Tamara Lich and Pat King.
Charland is a prominent figure in a group called “Les Farfadaas” which began as a satirical group often taking aim at government regulations, and later evolved into direct protests against pandemic mandates. Charland was previously associated with the Quebec group La Meute (The Pack), which defines itself as “a citizen group that campaigns for the defense of freedom of expression and democracy” and is known for taking stances against illegal immigration and radical Islam.
Charland and his group had set up on the Gatineau side during the weeks-long protest in Ottawa, on an undeveloped section of the Zibi real estate project.
While at first authorized to set up camp for two days by the landlord for the sum of $1,000 a day, the group then refused to leave until the Superior Court issued an eviction order on Feb. 17.
Charland has had previous run-ins with the law for his activism opposing restrictive health measures in Quebec. He and others were charged with conspiracy and mischief under $5,000 for briefly blocking the lanes of the Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine tunnel in Montreal in March 2021 as they demonstrated against Premier François Legault.
The Freedom Convoy protest lasted three weeks in Ottawa until law enforcement cleared the city on Feb. 18 and 19 after the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act.
Some of the measures applied through the Act included designating no-go zones, streamlining the swearing-in process for out-of-jurisdiction police officers, compelling towing companies to remove trucks, and freezing bank accounts of protesters and supporters without a court order.
The Liberal government held a vote on the motion to invoke the Act on Feb. 21, and then abruptly revoked the order on Feb. 23, saying the public order emergency had been resolved.