Ottawa police say this year’s Canada Day will see ‘unprecedented’ security response

Canadians opposed to ongoing COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions plan a Canada Day return to the capital. Veterans 4 Freedom says it intends to set up camp east of the city & protest regularly until they see restrictions lifted.

By Anil Jhalli, CityNews Ottawa

Ottawa police say this year will see an “unprecedented and unique Canada Day” with a never-before-seen security posture in the city.

In a tweet sent on June 17 regarding public safety planning for Canada Day, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) said it has received several questions regarding planned protests and will not allow events such as the ‘Freedom Convoy’ earlier this year to occur.

“We are applying lessons learned from the unlawful protest as well as the ‘Rolling Thunder’ and associated protests to build our plan,” the OPS tweet stated.

The OPS stated that at the request of the City of Ottawa, it will continue an approach that prohibits vehicle-based protests in areas in and around places of national significance, and asked that the public be vigilant and report any suspicious activity.

The OPS does not want Canada Day celebrations to be overshadowed, adding that an operational planning team, which includes intelligence gathering, has been working for weeks on this event.

“The number one priority for all policing partners is public safety for everyone,” the OPS said.

This year, Canada Day celebrations will be held at LeBreton Flats Park and Place des festivals Zibi on July 1, rather than the usual location on Parliament Hill. LeBreton Flats will host the daytime ceremony and evening show, while other programming will be held at the Place des festivals Zibi.

“The expectation is that this Heritage Canada event will be larger than usual both in terms of crowd size and the footprint of the event,” said the OPS. “We are also expecting several large events throughout the Ottawa area to celebrate the day.”

The OPS said that larger crowds on Canada and planned protests are helping guide safety planning.

“There will be significant road closures and a major increase in police presence,” the OPS said. “We will be bringing multiple extra policing resources from several services.”

Freedom rally events are set to take place in Ottawa in late June through the rest of the summer for what organizers say are to protest remaining COVID-19 pandemic-era restrictions.

Andrew MacGillivray, steering committee member for Veterans for Freedom, says in a YouTube video interview that it will hold a three-day conference in Ottawa next week, from Wednesday to Friday.

Veterans for Freedom describes itself on its website as a group made up of Canadian veterans working to “restore fundamental freedoms for all Canadians” and “uphold Canadian laws.”

MacGillivray says its aim is to have the federal government repeal remaining mandates, reinstate federal workers who lost their jobs related to mandates and pay those workers for lost wages.

He says his group plans to hold a meeting with up to 17 MPs on Wednesday, who are mostly Conservative, and the next two days will be town hall events with key people in the “freedom movement.”

MacGillivray says it will set up a semi-permanent camp east of Ottawa called ‘Camp Eagle’ and will be holding events all summer.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

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