‘You shouldn’t need more tools’ to clear bridge protest in Windsor: Trudeau to Ford

By Laura Osman and David Fraser, The Canadian Press

A newly released document shows that before invoking the Emergencies Act last winter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Ontario Premier Doug Ford that police shouldn’t need more legal tools to clear protesters from a key border crossing.

A readout of their conversation on Feb. 9 was tabled as evidence before the public inquiry investigating the government’s decision to bring in emergency powers in an effort to clear protest blockades in downtown Ottawa and several border crossings.

It says Ford told Trudeau reopening the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., was the priority, and that Ontario’s attorney general was looking at legal ways to give the police more tools to deal with it.

The readout shows Trudeau said the protest wasn’t legal, and that Ontario shouldn’t need more legal tools.

The Liberal government invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14, the same day the Ambassador Bridge reopened to traffic.

The Public Order Emergency Commission is holding public hearings in Ottawa through to Nov. 25.

Related: Doug Ford, Sylvia Jones won’t have to testify at Emergencies Act inquiry

Earlier on Tuesday, OPP Supt. Dana Earley says she briefly considered putting off an operation to clear a blockade of protesters at the Ambassador Bridge, fearing it might make the ongoing occupation in downtown Ottawa worse.

Protesters in Ottawa had already been entrenched around Parliament Hill for weeks, with no end in sight, when police were ready to move on the protest blocking Canada’s busiest border crossing in Windsor.

Earley says on Feb. 11 she had a plan and her officers were ready to go, but she worried a large police operation could make matters worse in Ottawa.

Her strategic commanders convinced her to focus on what was best for Windsor.

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