Ottawa police launch internal investigation after inquiry hears of leaks to convoy

Ottawa Police Service interim Chief Steve Bell reads over documents submitted as evidence during testimony at the Public Order Emergency Commission, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Ottawa Police Service interim Chief Steve Bell reads over documents submitted as evidence during testimony at the Public Order Emergency Commission, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The interim chief of the Ottawa Police Service says the force has opened an internal investigation into a report of police information being leaked to organizers of last winter's Freedom Convoy protest by officers sympathetic to their cause.

"The information that was presented yesterday at the Emergencies Act inquiry was net-new information to us that we had not yet investigated. And we've already, as of last night, initiated an internal investigation," Steve Bell testified Thursday night to a parliamentary committee.

Bell added that the police service would be reaching out to lawyer Keith Wilson, who mentioned the leaks during testimony at the inquiry earlier in the week.

Wilson, who represents convoy organizers including Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, testified Wednesday in front of the Public Order Emergency Commission, which is reviewing the federal government's decision to invoke emergency powers to clear the crowds and vehicles that gridlocked the capital's downtown for more than three weeks during the protest.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press
Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

"There was a steady stream of of information and leaks coming from all of the different police forces and security agencies," Wilson told the inquiry.

"There were numerous times where information would come into the operation centre from various police sources that a raid was imminent. And it happened many times."

CBC News has reached out to Wilson for comment.

Wilson told reporters outside the inquiry room that information came from several police agencies, not just the Ottawa Police Service.

The OPS has said it's investigating a small number of officers who may have supported the convoy protest from the early days of its occupation of the downtown core.

To date, only one Ottawa police officer has faced any formal prosecution for involvement in the convoy or the occupation — and that was for donating money.

Bell's confirmation of an investigation into the information leaks was made during a special joint committee on the declaration of emergency.

That committee of MPs and senators — which was triggered by the federal government's use of the emergency powers— has been meeting on and off for several months.

Those hearings come on top of the ongoing public inquiry into the use of the emergency powers, which is expected to hear from dozens more witnesses over the next two weeks.