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CONVOY TRIAL DIARY: Day Two
Not One Inch and Where is the crown going?
CTV’s totally unbiased take on the SO-CALLED Freedom Convoy trial. Maybe I spoke too soon when I said legacy media was not being completely awful this time.
Spent an interesting half-hour before the doors to the courtroom opened yesterday speaking to an Ottawa resident about why she was there. In the first five minutes an polite disagreement broke out between she — someone who suspects the convoy of seditious intentions and a convoy supporter. Both sides with their own set of facts. But I guess in the end we are all allowed to view things differently, the danger is, as I have been banging on about, that we now inhabit two separate realities and democracy won’t hold. She is a nice woman fulfilling her civic duty to attend the trial and see for herself.
The convoy and this trial are a Rorschach inkblot test — what you believe says a lot about your politics and your sources of news. He moved to sit somewhere else and she and I continued talking - me trying to fully understand her position. At its heart was bad information.
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It’s hard to stay awake in the courtroom at times. Not as dramatic yet as you might expect. The air is outside is heavy and it is hot here. Even though the courtroom itself is lovely and cool — by the time you get in — well let’s just say I’ve been feeling like a worn out dog who needs a shower. It’s very southern gothic. People have sweat stains and are chugging out of water bottles. The players up front have water supplied but I think the gallery isn’t allowed so some people have gone rogue and snuck in their own. Correction: water is discreetly allowed.
As for the day, I’m not sure where the Crown is going. Meaningful violence connected to the convoy has been debunked and the word has taken on a new meaning. Yesterday OPS (Ottawa Police Service) Russell Lucas was in charge of the plan to deal with the convoy. He testified that they believed only five convoys were on the way to the city and they ended up with thirteen. In a sense the truckers were too successful. I suspect this likely frightened city officials who may have bought into the Prime Minister’s assessment that they were a small fringe minority.
Lucas testified that plans were changing daily and that the truckers were working and cooperating with police but that given the volume of vehicles downtown, police were stretched too thin.
His evidence proved to me that troubles during Covidian times, including Ottawa’s response to the truckers, exposed how out of touch our institutions are with what the country is feeling. This city is a bubble. And more and more we are learning that politicians and bureaucrats reside in a world that is not connected to how the rest of us live.
That the OPS got it wrong is understandable but their inability to pivot in a meaningful way reflects something else. The Ottawa citizen wrote this:
Lucas told the court the Ottawa police had initially put together a plan that would accommodate roughly 2,000 vehicles on Wellington Street in front of Parliament and along several parkways.
Instead, more than 5,000 trucks arrived on the first weekend of the protest in late January, Lucas told the court. “Obviously, the event exceeded our expectations.”
Roughly two-thirds of protesters left after the first weekend, he said, but the problem for police was that the footprint of the protest remained the same.
Big-rig trucks blocked Wellington Street and spilled onto other streets around downtown, including residential roads.
At that time, police resources were stretched very thin, Lucas said.
Not One Inch
Teams of officers had tried to negotiate with protesters to clear traffic lanes and shrink the footprint by moving trucks toward Parliament Hill, “but that never happened,” he said.
He said instructions came down from senior command after the first weekend of the protest “not to give the protesters an inch,” which made the task of negotiating much harder for officers on the ground.
It was pretty clear from the testimony that the word to not negotiate came down from the Ottawa Police Chief’s office. And it reflects the state of mind of the Liberal government and the Prime Minister who might have ended the protest if he had stepped forward to speak to convoy leadership. In the end, all of this, including the criminal charges were unnecessary in my view but I’m speculating here.
Lucas suggested that relations deteriorated, at least with OPS but never describes a threat.
There was a lot of yelling and screaming at officers testified. But he confirmed none of those situations became violent. Lucas is a Crown witness and after watching him for most of his appearance — it’s unclear to me what his purpose is. His evidence, it could be argued helps the defence.
Off I go now to Day Three. I will get to your comments and questions on the first break.
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