OTTAWA — Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique said national security threat was identified as part of the so-called freedom convoy in Ottawa.
Carrique said the province's intelligence bureau identified a threat associated with the lengthy protest in the national capital on Feb. 7, one week before the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act.
He told the House of Commons public safety committee Thursday that the blockades were a "provincial and national emergency" that garnered international attention.
"The situation and the associated events simultaneously taking place across Canada required unprecedented national collaboration to prevent injury, preserve life and protect critical infrastructure," Carrique said.
He did not provide further details, saying the committee is not the appropriate forum to outline specifics of the intelligence.
MPs posed pointed questions to Carrique and interim Ottawa police chief Steve Bell about the police's handling of protesters as they became entrenched in the city's downtown core, and why they were not sent packing sooner.
Asked why Ottawa police were not enforcing the law before the Emergencies Act was invoked, Bell said the blockades were an unprecedented, unseen event for any jurisdiction across Canada.
Each state of emergency invoked at the municipal, provincial and federal level, along with court injunctions to restrain aspects of the demonstration, provided police with different tools to take action, he said.
Bell and Carrique appeared before the committee to testify about the police response to the protest against the federal government and COVID-19 health measures.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Erika Ibrahim, The Canadian Press