Former Niagara area councillor facing 4 charges connected to truck convoy protests
Former West Lincoln councillor Harold Jonker is facing several charges for his involvement with the 2022 truck convoy protests, police say.
Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) said Jonker was arrested April 29, not far from West Lincoln township, after he turned himself in at a police station in Grimsby, Ont.
Ottawa Police Service told CBC Hamilton in an email Jonker has been charged with two counts of counselling "an uncommitted indictable offence," one count of mischief/obstruct property and one count of intimidation by blocking or obstructing highway.
Jonker was the Ward 2 councillor in West Lincoln before losing his seat by 180 votes to Joann Chechalk in the October 2022 municipal elections.
While in office earlier last year, Jonker was suspended from the West Lincoln council for 30 days without pay due to his participation in the protests.
In February, 2022 Jonker attended a council-related committee meeting virtually from Ottawa while occupying some streets around Parliament Hill.
Jonker — who is also the operations manager at Jonker Trucking Inc. — had gone to Ottawa to participate in the convoy protest on Jan. 28, 2022. The former councillor said he was there to "support the movement for freedom and bringing the truth of the gospel."
The action was determined by Ottawa police to be "unlawful" and led to a call by West Lincoln Integrity Commissioner John Mascarin for an investigation.
After his arrest, in a video posted May 1 to a YouTube channel under the name of Tim Jonker, Jonker said he's had an "emotional week" after finding out Ottawa police had a warrant for his arrest.
"We're concerned, this is not easy," he said.
Niagara Const. Barry Ravenek told CBC Hamilton in an email that Ottawa police asked Niagara police for assistance on the case and confirmed Jonker arrived to 8 District station last weekend.
He was then arrested, charged and released on an undertaking.
He's expected to appear in an Ottawa courthouse on May 10, said Ravenek.
A divisive councillor
During his time in office, Jonker's actions in Ottawa caused divisions locally.
In a series of tweets on Feb. 11, 2022, Ward 3 councillor William Reilly said Jonker had missed several meetings and said he should consider resigning.
"I call on [Jonker] to either resign his seat if he's going to con't to neglect his municipal responsibilities or to resume representing the residents of ward 2 at Council," he wrote.
However, West Lincoln's former mayor, Dave Bylsma, supported Jonker.
Bylsma shared a photo posing with Jonker and a truck last February. Bylsma was not re-elected in the municipal elections and was replaced with former Ward 3 councillor Cheryl Ganann.
Ottawa police said numerous investigations related to the 2022 protests are still ongoing.
"There are convoy-related investigations that have revealed other peripheral investigations or assisted police in identifying other/new suspects," police said in an email.
The protests began in January 2022 calling for an end to all vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions. Thousands joined the movement that clogged numerous downtown Ottawa streets for over three weeks before the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canada's history.
Several protest organizers are also facing charges and are expected to face trial in September.