Suspended Ottawa police superintendent not on witness list for convoy commission

Ottawa police Supt. Mark Patterson was suspended with pay in June. (CBC - image credit)
Ottawa police Supt. Mark Patterson was suspended with pay in June. (CBC - image credit)

A suspended Ottawa police superintendent who was at the centre of cancelled convoy raids, oversaw early lapses in local intelligence, and levied an allegation of collusion against his deputy chief is not scheduled to testify at the public inquiry into the occupation.

Supt. Mark Patterson was suspended in June after allegations of misconduct were made to the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) professional standards unit. Those allegations were unrelated to any police involvement in the convoy protests and continue to be the subject of a misconduct investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police. No charges have been laid against him.

Yet Patterson, revealed by the inquiry as a central figure in the infighting that plagued Ottawa police during the early days of the occupation, is not on the list of witnesses and the Public Order Emergency Commission will not say whether he was even interviewed.

"The commission is not disclosing the particulars of the process followed in its investigation," a spokesperson said Monday.

The inquiry, which is specifically focused on the federal use of the Emergencies Act, has heard testimony from other senior leaders within Ottawa police about their response to the convoy. Many of them were questioned about Patterson's involvement and have testified at the inquiry about it.

'Event commander' to Freedom Convoy

Patterson served as one of the three OPS major event commanders that shuffled through the role during the occupation. He only did so for four days between Feb. 6 and 10, but those four days saw him ultimately cancel two enforcement operations and accuse his deputy chief of colluding with her husband to undermine him.

He took that role after two others had cycled through it. One, a superintendent who stepped down from the role to take time off for an unknown reason, and the other a superintendent who Sloly told inquiry lawyers he didn't trust, and vetoed as an option after the fact.

Neither of the two others were added to the list of witnesses. The only "event commander," as they were called, that has testified is Supt. Rob Bernier, the senior officer who was in the role immediately after Patterson and oversaw the end of the occupation.

Patterson was also a senior officer in charge of the early intelligence in preparation for the convoy.

The commission has heard from witnesses about their clashes with Patterson, particularly around a hard-line enforcement approach that sought "quick wins" to ending the occupation and two specific raids that never materialized because of these clashes.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press
Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Laid accusations of collusion

The commission has also heard from acting Deputy Chief Trish Ferguson who recalled Feb. 10 as the "worst day" of her policing career.

"On Feb. 10, Superintendent Patterson falsely accused Acting Deputy Chief Ferguson of unethical behaviour and colluding with her spouse, OPS Staff Sgt. John Ferguson, who was then supervising OPS's (convoy negotiations) team," according to her interview summary.

Her testimony revealed that others, including then-chief Peter Sloly, witnessed the accusation.

Patterson was removed as event commander shortly thereafter.

While Sloly hasn't yet testified before the commission and is expected to do so Friday, his interview summary with the commission's lawyers is publicly available. In it, he described the incident as causing a "relationship rupture."

Sloly, in his interview with inquiry counsel, described Patterson as becoming "agitated" in the meeting when he accused Ferguson.

"Chief Sloly viewed Superintendent Patterson's comments as out of line and perceived that they caused a break in the relationship between Superintendent Patterson and Acting Deputy Chief Ferguson. "

The commission has heard no testimony about any possible reprimand for the accusation.

Interview summaries for other Ottawa police officers — who were interviewed but who are not on the witness list — have been posted to the inquiry's website. No such summary exists for Patterson.

In an emailed statement asking for an update on the investigation, Ottawa police said: "The matter has been referred to the OPP for investigation; please contact them directly."

The OPP did not comment on the investigation as Patterson remains suspended with pay.