Ottawa police say they are aware of planned protests for Canada Day, and say they won’t allow a repeat of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ occupation that took over downtown earlier this year.
Police said in a statement Friday they have received several questions about planned protests and other commentary online, and have been planning accordingly for weeks.
“We will not allow for conditions that led to the unlawful protests in February to reoccur,” police said. “We are applying lessons learned from the unlawful protest as well as the Rolling Thunder and associated protests to build our plan.”
Police say they expect Heritage Canada celebrations—taking place at LeBreton Flats this year because of construction on Parliament Hill—to be larger than usual. They are also expecting several other large events throughout the city.
“These factors, combined with an increased level of protests and demonstrations, are guiding our planning,” they said Friday. “There will be significant road closures and a major increase in police presence. We will be bringing multiple extra policing resources from several services.
Organizers are planning events from late June through Canada Day and the rest of the summer to protest remaining COVID-19 restrictions. Many are affiliated with, or expressed support for, the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protest that took over downtown Ottawa for three weeks in January and February.
The group Veterans for Freedom is holding a three-day conference in Ottawa next week and is coordinating a June 30 route for James Topp and his supporters to walk through parts of Ottawa to the National War Memorial.
Topp is a Canadian soldier who was charged by the Department of National Defence in May after publicly speaking out against federal vaccine requirements while in uniform.
The group is also planning Canada Day celebrations on the lawn of the Supreme Court of Canada, a march to City Hall, and a dance party on Parliament Hill that evening.
Police say they will continue to prohibit vehicles in and around places of national significance, as was done for the ‘Rolling Thunder’ event in late April.
“The right to lawful and peaceful demonstrations will always be protected,” police said. “The operational planning team is mindful that we do not want to overshadow this important and celebratory event. We will have the resources and plan to respond to safety issues immediately.”