Former OPP Chief Supt. Carson Pardy appears at the Public Order Emergency Commission, in Ottawa, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

‘Hard for me to say’ whether Emergencies Act was necessary, Ottawa officer testifies

A senior Ottawa police officer says the federal Emergencies Act was helpful to clear “Freedom Convoy” protesters, but he doesn’t know whether it was necessary.

Supt. Robert Bernier, who oversaw the Ottawa police command centre for a portion of the demonstrations in February, is continuing his testimony today at a public inquiry into federal government’s decision to invoke the legislation in February.

Bernier previously told the hearing that in the days leading up to the government’s triggering of the legislation, police had developed an operational plan to move out protesters relying on existing laws.

He says the Ontario Provincial Police force had 34 tow trucks and drivers ready to move vehicles blocking the streets around Parliament Hill the day before the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Emergencies Act was being invoked.

Inquiry lawyers asked Bernier whether he thought the federal legislation was necessary to remove protesters and the superintendent answered: “It’s hard for me to say.”

Bernier says once police did move in, they noted that some protesters intended to stay and officers “didn’t want to force a confrontation.”

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