For the past three weeks we have watched helplessly as a protest in our City’s downtown core turned into an entrenched occupation.
As I watch the events unfold in real time, I am hopeful that the police action will continue peacefully. So far the police have proceeded professionally and methodically. Interim Chief Steve Bell informed residents that this action will continue 24/7 until they have returned the area to residents and businesses.
On January 27 the City of Ottawa Police Services (OPS) were left to handle an unprecedented occupation of our city core by a massive convoy of trucks and protesters. The first weekend saw 3,000 demonstrators and 1000 trucks blocking streets in front of Parliament and beyond. My colleagues, whose areas were most affected, told me about the stress, anxiety, and dangerous situations their centre town residents have had to endure. I have been contacted by many Bay Ward residents who have been deeply affected by what has been going on as well. This has been an occupation that has held many innocent people hostage.
Following widespread dissatisfaction with the police response to the occupation, our Police Chief, Peter Sloly resigned. His resignation comes as a clear sign of the strain of not having enough resources to manage a massive occupation that took over our city. There are many outstanding questions that include; how a massive convoy was allowed to establish itself on the streets of the nation’s capital in the first place? And what intelligence was available on this event that could have prevented this occupation? These questions will no doubt be a part of a pending inquiry.
This week’s Special City Council meeting was contentious and watched by thousands as a motion was put forward for the removal of the OPS Board Chair Diane Deans. This resulted in Councillors Carol Ann Meehan and Rawlson King, the first black member to sit on the Board, along with citizen member Sandy Smallwood to resign. I was quite upset that this motion was even considered. I voted against it. This unprecedented action was not only an embarrassment but it was not what the City needed at a time when we are already in a crisis.
As the representative for Bay Ward I will continue to voice the concerns of residents and work with my City Council colleagues towards respectful engagement and collaborative conversations to help restore our citizens’ faith in their elected representatives. We need to move forward together to help re-open our businesses and go to work or school without fear in Ottawa.
Many residents have reached out to share their diverse views with me. However there is one common thread and this is a shared love of our city, our country, and a commitment to preserve the values and rights we hold dear. We all have a role to play in creating the kind of city we want to leave to our children. I truly hope that this can come to a peaceful end soon so we can have our City back and get on with our lives.