Police: ‘No issues to report’ with Freedom Convoy anniversary rally

January 30, 2023

Ryan Witkowski


After weeks of planning and preparing for possible demonstrations by groups celebrating the anniversary of the Freedom Convoy, Canadian officials said the weekend came and went with few problems.

According to Ottawa police, there were “no issues to report” on Saturday, as a small number of people gathered at demonstrations on Parliament Hill.

While crowds were sparse to start the day – with a blast of winter weather having a possible impact on the size of the crowd – Ottawa police reported the number of demonstrators had grown to over 200 by Saturday night.

The somewhat uneventful weekend should come as no surprise. Ottawa Police Service had spent the weeks leading up to the anniversary planning a “scalable response” to any possible unlawful demonstrations. Last week, Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs said his department had made it clear they would not tolerate vehicle-based protests like those seen the year prior.

“We’ve been clear … our goal is to not have a vehicle-based protest,” Stubbs said. “And if someone attempts a vehicle-based protest, then we will take action to dismantle it fairly quickly.”

As expected – and promised – there was an increased police presence in the downtown area and around Parliament Hill throughout the weekend. At one point, it was noted there were more police officers than protestors at one rally.

While speaking to reporters on Saturday, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said the crowds were “not causing a lot of disruption” and that much of the protests were “business as usual” for Parliament Hill.

“As long as the protests are peaceful and as long as they are not disturbing the public in any significant way, that they are not making noise that traumatizes or triggers residents of Centretown, they’re not blocking roads or bringing vehicles in illegally, then they are welcome to demonstrate and express their opinions,” Sutcliffe said.

While the majority of those in attendance were abiding by those rules, police did report that law officers were “met with aggression” while policing the downtown area.

According to authorities, 244 parking tickets and 67 provincial offense notices were issued over the weekend in relation to demonstrations in the city’s downtown core. Additionally, 25 vehicles were towed due to violations of the “no-stopping zone” rules.

Only two arrests were made in connection to demonstrations over the weekend. On Saturday afternoon, officers from Parliamentary Protective Service arrested two people for trespassing on Parliament Hill.

Ottawa police said an increased police presence in the area will continue for “the next few weeks”. LL