Institutions, police unprepared for convoy protest: chief who resigned amid criticism

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Ottawa’s former police chief, who resigned amid heavy criticism of the force’s handling of the “Freedom Convoy” protest in February, says Canada’s institutions and police services were unprepared for the scale of the demonstration.

Peter Sloly says the protest represents a “paradigm shift” in the kinds of security events facing Ottawa and he is calling for the street in front of Parliament Hill to be closed to vehicles to prevent another massive national security threat.

Sloly spoke out for the first time since he stepped down during the heat of the protest on Feb. 15, when Ottawa's downtown streets were seized by hundreds of big-rigs, other trucks and thousands of demonstrators protesting COVID-19 restrictions and the Liberal government.

He tells a parliamentary committee the easiest way to prevent another national security threat from approaching Parliament Hill would be to close Wellington Street to traffic and install barriers and bollards to control the flow of people and potential threats.

He also suggests placing Wellington Street under the jurisdiction of Parliamentary Protective Services instead of the Ottawa police, though he warned that will be a costly solution and won't solve communication issues between the various police services that operate on and near Parliament Hill.

Sen. Vernon White, who served as Ottawa police chief from 2007 to 2012, told the committee he's been advocating for the closure of Wellington Street and Elgin Street near the National War Memorial since a terrorist stormed the Hill in 2014.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2022.

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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