The past 19 days in Ottawa have been awful for those who live and work in the city. To see the utter failure on the part of law enforcement for do the most basic enforcement of the law has left many shaken and undermined any confidence the citizenry that previously existed. That has fallen on the shoulders of the Ottawa Police Service and today we got some big news on a natural consequence to come from what we’ve seen:
All through this occupation of the downtown, it has been the Ottawa Police Service that has been in charge and given what’s happened, it was clear that some changes would need to come after this period passed. Chief Peter Sloly has been facing a lot of heat for the inaction of his department, and rightfully so. It’s been a clusterfuck of a mess and the piper was going to come calling for him eventually. So it’s no surprise that he’s gone. The surprise is that he left now, walking away from his job while leaving the downtown of the Nations Capital occupied by a group of people who express their desire to overthrow the elected government of this G7 nation. But more on that in a second. In the meantime, more details have come pouring out after this dam broke and a lot of them are as concerning as they are confirming of our worst suspicions:
Wow, where to start with this crap? First of all, this move appears to have had the knock-on effect of knocking the Ottawa Police completely out of the command structure dealing with the current situation. That may be a good thing, given how badly the OPS was dealing with this. But given the other details we have found out, it could be just as bad. The details about the OPP basically refusing to confiscate jerry cans and fuel going to resupply the occupiers is pretty damning. Because the OPP refused to do their part, OPS officers basically decided to follow suit and let this crap continue and allowing the occupiers to further entrench themselves right in front of Parliament. For the OPP this wasn’t a measure that could help push the occupiers to leave, oh no, no, no. They saw it as “an insignificant charge that would cause administrative headache”. Good grief.
But it’s not like Sloly’s management of this situation was amazing onto itself, quite the opposite. The leaks flooding out after his resignation make that clear. He apparently removed three incident commanders, who had lots of experience in exactly this kind of thing, from being involved at all. I’d be curious to know what that was, but that surely flies in the face of Sloly’s public pleas that he was using all of the resources at his disposal. Then comes the musings from former senior officers with the view that OPS officers were ordered not to engage with the occupiers. Is any of that shocking to those who live in Ottawa or who have been watching this? Not in the least, but it’s interesting to see that confirmed.
And then you can layer on top of that all of the issues that Sloly had with his own force that pre-date all of this. It’s a well-known fact that the Ottawa Police Service has had issues in the past, part of which Sloly was brought in to help clean up. So am I shocked to hear that some of his officers had a problem with that? Not in the least. But while the job of coming in to put the OPS on a different path is not an easy one, that doesn’t excuse the other things that have come out today. That doesn’t excuse Sloly’s alleged personal conduct, the alleged yelling and alleged bullying. In short folks, this is a total mess.
In the end, the current situation just wasn’t tenable. Something had to change, and Sloly exiting stage right could very well be that thing that needed to change. There is no guarantee here that this will make things better, but it’s an important chance to make things better. This change in leadership and command of the situation in Ottawa is the chance for the authorities to show they are serious, change their approach and show the occupiers the law will be enforced to the standard expected. If they don’t seize this opportunity to do just that, that failure will only put more wind in the sails of those who already think that they are above the law.
On a last note, today’s developments make one thing very clear that needs to happen after the occupiers and trucks are cleared out of Ottawa; there must be full public inquiries into what in the Hell happened here. The City of Ottawa must have a full public inquiry into the actions of the Ottawa Police Service and their failures in this dangerous moment, to get to the bottom of what went wrong and to try to re-establish any faith or trust from the citizens of Ottawa. The Province of Ontario needs to have a public inquiry of their own, to examine the roll of the OPP in this situation, their inaction in Ottawa, the incidents of OPP members aiding and comforting occupiers and the whole lot. And the Federal Government needs to have a public inquiry too, not only to examine the role of the RCMP here, the glaring holes in legal measures to limit foreign influence in such situations, how financing laws need to catch up to the times and to review how Emergencies Act was used and its effectiveness. Also Parliament needs to go back and re-examine the policing of the Parliamentary Precinct, re-open the discussions about how the area is secured and re-consider the idea of permanently closing off certain streets in the area to vehicular traffic.
All of those things must be done to show that there are consequences for such actions, but to also ensure that the mistakes that led to this clusterfuck are never repeated again. I pray that this occupation is over soon and peacefully. When that end comes, it’s time for our political leaders to stop the game of political hot potato that they have been playing for the past three weeks to our detriment. They need to put on their adult pants and clean up their own backyards, and they should expect the electors of Ottawa, Ontario and Canada to hold them to that the next time they come asking for their votes.