Ottawa police chief may call in the military to handle protests
'This is a national issue, not an Ottawa issue,' the police chief said
Ottawa's chief of police suggested Wednesday that the Canadian Armed Forces might have to be called in to handle the lingering protesters in the Canadian capital.
"This is a national issue, not an Ottawa issue," Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly said in a briefing to city councilors. "I am increasingly concerned there is no policing solution to this."
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Sloly said that clearing protesters out of the city also comes with risks, that police aren't capable of blocking access to the capital and that he would need a force of 50,000 officers to do so. He said that military aid remains a possibility.
"There is no lawful authority to seal a city. There's no practical capability to seal a city of this size," Sloly said.
During a later briefing Wednesday, a reporter asked the chief to clarify what he meant when he said there isn't a policing end to the ongoing demonstrations.
"Can you be clear about what you mean?" asked the reporter. "That is alarming to people, and I'd like to hear what we're talking about when we say that."
Sloly responded that authorities are looking "at every potential option available to us within the legal bounds from negotiation through to court injunction through to an enforced removal."
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"Increasingly, as we see demonstrations, not just here, but elsewhere in the country, where there are efforts by strictly a policing action, we are not as confident as we have been that police alone will resolve this situation substantially, never mind in totality."
Truckers in southern Alberta continued to block the Canada-U.S. border Wednesday in a standoff with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) over provincial vaccine mandates.
"It is a local destination, a provincial demonstration, a national demonstration, and one that has international elements associated to it," Sloly added.
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The reporter pushed back against the chief's answer, saying she didn't know what he meant.
"When you say ‘other than police,’ do you mean politics? Do you need military? I don't understand the answer. I understand it's not only police, but then what are those other options that are not police options that we might need?" the reporter asked.
"I think you just listed most of them right there," Sloly replied.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that a smaller but still significant number of protesters remained on the streets of Ottawa, saying they won’t leave until all vaccine mandates and other restrictions are gone.