A week after testifying before the Emergencies Act inquiry, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Dec. 2 he expects police will take the appropriate measures to prevent a repeat of the Freedom Convoy as planning for a new iteration is under way.
“I think we have learned a lot, and I think police corps across the country have learned a lot about what happened last February,” Trudeau said during a press conference in Richmond, B.C.
“I’m expecting that the tools police have at their disposal are put in place to make sure there’s no repeat of the occupation which hurt many people in the last year,” he added, in response to a reporter’s question about whether he’s putting aside from the get-go the idea of invoking the act.
The question came as some of the same characters that were involved in the planning of last winter’s events have already marked their calendars.
Trucker James Bauder, who also testified before the inquiry in the last few weeks, is planning a convoy to head towards Ottawa in February, but the intention is to remain outside the city.
“We can’t have a convoy in Ottawa, nor do we ever want to do a repeat of parking all our vehicles and everything else downtown, that’s just not going to happen,” Bauder told the Western Standard.
The plan is to have a festival outside the city with some activities at Parliament Hill such as speeches and a candlelight vigil, he said.
Trudeau National Security and Intelligence Advisor Jody Thomas told the joint parliamentary committee reviewing the Emergencies Act on Dec. 1 that federal officials have started meeting to discuss the Freedom Convoy 2.0.
The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) is also aware of what is being posted on social media about the event, according to CTV News.
While Trudeau mentioned his hope that police will be able to prevent a repeat of this year’s events, he said people have the right to protest.
“I think it’s important to underscore that we absolutely expect that Canadians have the freedom to express themselves, to disagree with policies, to demonstrate—it’s extremely important, it’s part of our democracy,” he said.
“We’ll always encourage people to make themselves heard, but they can’t do it in a way that hurts other citizens, and that’s what we’re expecting police from jurisdiction will manage.”
The Trudeau government invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14 to clear cross-country protests and blockades demanding the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
The protests were not deemed a national security threat by federal and provincial security agencies.
Six weeks of public hearings at the inquiry have also revealed that essentially the only powers that were used to clear the Ottawa protest were the freezing of financial accounts of protesters and the accelerated swearing-in of police officers.
Tow trucks were not compelled by the act and the no-go zone perimeter was established by the OPS under normal authorities, the inquiry heard.
Other protests and blockades had been resolved before the act was invoked or cleared voluntarily after the invocation.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.