Mayor Jim Watson praised PM Justin Trudeau’s controversial emergency powers, and said he wants to sell off vehicles seized from protesters
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has praised the police crackdown on anti-mandate Freedom Convoy protesters in the Canadian capital. With the demonstrations cleared, he told state media that trucks, campers, and vehicles seized from the protesters should be sold off, claiming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s controversial emergency powers allow him to do so.
Speaking to CBC on Saturday, Watson commended police officers for clearing protesters from downtown Ottawa, where they had been camped for three weeks protesting vaccine mandates. The demonstrations were broken by city and federal police officers between Friday and Saturday after Trudeau invoked the never-before-used Emergencies Act on Monday.
Despite video footage showing shocking scenes of police brutality, Watson said that officers had “done a remarkable job,” and were “very measured in their response.” At least 170 protesters have been arrested, more than 50 vehicles have been seized, and the government has frozen the bank accounts of at least 76 protest participants and supporters.
“Under the Emergencies Act I’ve asked our solicitor and our city manager, ‘how can we keep the tow trucks and the campers and the vans and everything else that we’ve confiscated, and sell those pieces of equipment to help recoup some of the costs that our taxpayers are absorbing?’” Watson told CBC.
Watson also cited losses by local businesses as one of the reasons he would attempt to sell off impounded vehicles.
Earlier on Saturday, City Treasurer Wendy Stephanson claimed that managing the protest was costing the city approximately CA$1 million ($785,000) per day, per CTV News. “We should ding those people who have caused this chaos,” Watson said in a separate interview with CTV on Saturday, referring to the protesters.
Fed-up, frustrated and disenfranchised – Why Indigenous Canadians joined the freedom convoy
It is unclear whether Watson’s plan will go ahead, and whether the Emergencies Act actually allows the city to auction off seized vehicles. Ottawa Police have previously stated that seized vehicles will be held for seven days, after which time they can be retrieved. Likewise the Emergencies Act is currently being enforced despite not being debated in Parliament, and could end up amended significantly.
While some of Canada’s provincial premiers have relaxed their rules on masking and vaccination since the protest began, Trudeau’s nationwide vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers and a rule requiring Canadians be vaccinated to leave the country remain in effect.
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