Canadian police chief resigns amid criticism over Covid-19 protests

Police Chief Peter Sloly resigns after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked emergency powers to try to break the siege



A protester yells 'freedom' towards a person who attempted to stick a paper sign on a truck criticising the so called Freedom Convoy. — AP
A protester yells "freedom" towards a person who attempted to stick a paper sign on a truck criticising the so called Freedom Convoy. — AP

By AP

Published: Tue 15 Feb 2022, 9:26 PM

Ottawa’s police chief has resigned amid criticism of his inaction against the Covid-19 protests that have paralyzed Canada’s capital.

A federal government official on Tuesday confirmed the resignation by Police Chief Peter Sloly. The official was not authorised to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The bumper-to-bumper protest in Ottawa by hundreds of truckers has gone on for more than two weeks. On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked emergency powers to try to break the siege there and elsewhere around the country.

Across Canada and beyond, the question in the coming days will be whether Trudeau’s decision to give the government extraordinary emergency powers will stamp out the widespread protests.

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Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said it is time for police to begin using their broad authority conferred under Canada’s Emergencies Act, which allows the government to ban the blockades and begin towing away trucks.

“We need law enforcement to take the reins, to utilise the Emergencies Act and to enforce,” he said late on Monday after Trudeau announced he was invoking the law. “We have given new powers to police and we need them to do the job now.”

Government leaders did not indicate when or where the crackdowns on the self-styled Freedom Convoy would begin. Mendicino said they were still working out the final details on where the prohibited zones will be.

The government will be able to ban blockades at border crossings, airports and in the capital city of Ottawa; freeze truckers’ personal and corporate bank accounts and suspend their licences; and target crowd-funding sites that are being used to support the blockades.

It also can force tow trucks to move the big rigs out of intersections and neighbourhoods. Up to now, some towing companies have been reluctant to cooperate because of their support for the truckers or fears of violence.

Since late January, protesters in trucks and other vehicles have jammed the streets of Ottawa and obstructed border crossings, decrying vaccine mandates for truckers and other Covid-19 precautions and condemning Trudeau’s Liberal government.


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