(Ottawa) All indications are that next month there will finally be no “freedom convoy” on the streets of Winnipeg.
Posted at 12:12pm Updated at 2:49pm
Mia Rabson The Canadian Press
The group Canada Unity, which is one of the organizers of last year’s protest in Ottawa, has said it will cancel plans for another rally in late February.
“Official Canada Unity Convoy 2.0 scheduled for February 17-20, 2023 enters a 10-7 code – service complete,” wrote group founder James Bauder in a statement posted to Facebook.
Bauder originally planned to return to Ottawa for another four-day protest, where participants would gather at an out-of-town location and make daily tours of Parliament Hill.
However, after police indicated they would have a zero-tolerance policy toward such an event, Mr. Bauder announced on December 25 that the event would be relocated to the Manitoba capital.
But this plan also failed.
In his Facebook post, Mr. Bauder justified the decision with security risks, without giving any further details, and with personal attacks on him.
Even if Convoy 2.0 were to take place in Manitoba, Bauder was particularly concerned that participants could be charged under Ontario’s new Bill 100, which passed after the first protest last year.
The law prohibits protests at protected transport infrastructure, including airports and border crossings. It also allows police to confiscate driver’s licenses and license plates used in illegal blockades.
Mr Bauder is one of dozens of people arrested during the first “convoy” in February 2022. He was accused of mischief and disobeying police orders and court orders. One of his bail conditions prevents him from traveling to downtown Ottawa.
The first version of the “freedom convoy” paralyzed downtown Ottawa and various border crossings with the United States for several weeks. The federal government used the emergency law for the first time since it was passed to end the demonstration.
In the weeks leading up to the Ottawa protests, Mr. Bauder had drafted a “memorandum of understanding” and attempted to deliver it to Governor General Mary Simon. He asked her and all of the incumbent senators to sign a deal that would overthrow the government and make Mrs. Simon, senators, his wife Sandra, another man and himself an official in the Canadian government.
This new government would then have ordered all other levels of government to end COVID-19 health restrictions and reinstate workers who were suspended or fired for not being vaccinated.
Mr. Bauder’s group then joined with other organizations to implement the blockade, which also affected several other parts of downtown Ottawa and some provincial legislatures.
However, as events unfolded in Ottawa, Mr. Bauder did not appear to be among the main organizers or leaders.
A public inquiry into the federal government’s decision to invoke the emergency law led to six weeks of public hearings last fall. We were able to discover the details of the chaos and dysfunction that existed both within the various groups organizing the demonstrations and within the police forces.
The final report of this commission of inquiry is expected next month.
The City of Ottawa reported that police and community service costs resulting from the event exceeded $52 million. The city of Windsor, where the closure of the Ambassador Bridge crossing has caused the greatest economic disruption, has estimated police costs at nearly $7 million.