Ottawa’s acting police chief appeared before a parliamentary committee on May 17 to discuss expanding federal police jurisdiction to Wellington and Sparks streets following the three-week occupation of downtown Ottawa. city of the city earlier this year.
During his testimony before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, Acting Chief of Police Steve Bell said he was open to the idea of extending federal jurisdiction to these areas and that he this was an important conversation to have.
According to Bell, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) is used to working with other police services, and it is essential that future jurisdictional changes are properly defined.
“Responsibilities should be clearly identified between us and other parties, such as the PPS or the RCMP, to ensure there are no gaps in our responses,” Bell told the committee.
He adds that defining the responsibilities of each agency will ensure that anyone with jurisdiction has the appropriate authorities and will not have to depend on “ad hoc emergency legislation”.
Bell was also asked by committee members whether the OPS was asking that federal emergency law be invoked.
“We have been involved in conversations with our partners and policy departments – we have not made a direct request for the Emergency Measures Act,” Bell explained.
The acting leader was also asked several times about the use of the term “occupation”, but Bell said the OPS had made it clear that the so-called “freedom convoy” had moved from a demonstration or a protest to an illegal occupation of downtown Ottawa.