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Police action doesn’t always look pretty

February 2022

While the rights of Canadians to hold a peaceful protest must always be protected, if politicians and the citizens of Ottawa insist that police move in and disburse remove the truckers and their supporters, it may not go smoothly.

If I can offer Ottawa Chief Peter Sloly some advice, it would be that he should make the following public statement:  

“To the people of Ottawa, I share your concerns that the trucker protest at Parliament Hill ends very soon. While some of the protesters will undoubtedly leave once police advise that we will be moving in to remove them, you have to be prepared for the harsh reality that some of them will not go willingly, and those people may have to be carried out in handcuffs. Some of them may want exactly that, in the hopes that it will make police look bad on the newscasts and web platforms that will play the footage on a continuous loop for days.  

The use of force doesn’t always look pretty and there is a chance that both protesters and police will get hurt.  When that happens, a lot of the same people who have told me that I must order my officers to forcibly remove the protesters, will be screaming in the media, asking why we were too heavy handed. We have seen this storyline play out many times before, so when it happens, be honest with yourselves that you were warned.

I wish to be very clear that I’m still hopeful for a peaceful resolution to this protest, and my officers will remain professional, within the law, and only use as much force as is necessary to perform their duties, including the use of reasonable force to protect themselves and others.

To sum up, if you want the protesters cleared out, my officers will do what is lawfully necessary. Don’t say you weren’t warned if it doesn’t look pretty.

Now let’s all keep working towards a peaceful resolution.”

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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