The police chief of Ottawa announced his resignation on Tuesday, citing criticism of his passivity in the face of trucker demonstrations that have crippled Canada’s capital for more than two weeks, while activists’ border blockades have shrunk to just one.
The dual events come a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked Canada’s Emergencies Act and promised to take strong legal and financial steps to put a stop to protestors criticizing the country’s Covid-19 limitations and Trudeau’s administration in Ottawa and around the country.
After failing to act firmly against the bumper-to-bumper protest by hundreds of truck drivers, Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly resigned.
Many people have been enraged by the protests by the so-called Freedom Convoy, who have complained of being harassed and intimidated on the streets.
In announcing Sloly’s retirement, Diane Deans, head of the Ottawa Police Services Board, stated, “Like other residents in Ottawa, I have watched in disbelief as this carnival chaos has been allowed to continue.” She went on to say that the demonstrators had converted downtown into a street party, complete with large screens, hot springs, and an outdoor gym.
Sloly stated in a statement that he did all in his power to keep the city safe, describing the situation as “unprecedented and unforeseeable.”
The number of cars participating in the roadblock in the city’s heart remained at 360, down from a peak of about 4,000, according to Ottawa’s police board. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Provincial Police set up a command center to take leadership of the situation, relegating Ottawa police to a secondary position.
Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell believes authorities have reached a tipping point: “I believe we now have the resources and partners to bring this occupation to a safe conclusion.”
Trucks with blasting horns moved out of Coutts, Alberta, across the border from Montana, breaking a siege that had hampered commerce for more than two weeks.
Police detained 13 people and recovered firearms and ammunition at the scene earlier this week. Four individuals have also been charged with conspiring to assassinate RCMP officers.
According to officials, the completion of the blockage left just one impeded border crossing, at Emerson, Manitoba, on the border with North Dakota. The Mounties also stated that they were certain that the demonstrators will leave by Wednesday.
Over the weekend, police broke up the roadblock of the Ambassador Bridge, the biggest and most vital bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, detaining hundreds of protesters. Both nations’ car manufacturing was hampered by the almost week-long protest, but everything was back to normal on Tuesday.
Traffic was also flowing again at the Pacific Highway border crossing south of Vancouver, on the opposite side of Washington state, according to authorities. Officers forced protestors out late Monday, and some were detained, according to the Mounties.
The capital’s protesters looked to be more entrenched.
The emergency measures targeting the drivers, according to Erik Mueller, a truck driver who resigned his job to join the roadblock in Ottawa, are “insane.”