Downtown Ottawa residents and businesses who say they were harmed by loud horns and diesel exhaust during the self-proclaimed “Freedom Convoy” are facing some kind of financial loss in an ongoing class action lawsuit against organizers of the 2022 protests. Convoy organizers are asking the Ottawa Police Commission to pay them if they win. that.
That’s a potentially big tab for the Ottawa Police Services Board, which manages the force and approves the budget.Plaintiff et al. Zexy Lee class action lawsuithas not yet been certified but is seeking $290 million.
Lawyers for Tamara Rich, Chris Barber, and 10 other defendants in the class action filed a third-party complaint against the Police Commission. It was issued by the Superior Court this week.
They argue that the police response to the protests was negligent and that because of the police’s negligence, the Police Commission should be held responsible for any loss or damage.
They claim there was no plan to crowd downtown Ottawa with vehicles, except for a “small number” of fewer than 40 tractor trailers on Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill.
Allegedly, it was Ottawa police who directed the vehicle to park on a residential street downtown.
Police “decided to change plans”
The original plan called for a “designated long section” between Wellington and the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway (now renamed Kichi Zibby Mikan) to the west and the Sir Georges-Etienne Cartier Parkway to the east. He claims that he planned to place the vehicle at .
“But for some reason, the Ottawa Police Service decided to change their plans,” James Manson, one of the lawyers representing the convoy organizers, said this week.
“And our argument is that if that hadn’t happened, if the trucks had parked where everyone knew they were going to park, there wouldn’t have been any trucks downtown, and therefore there wouldn’t be any downtown. It would be that the truck should never have existed,” causing the nuisance the plaintiffs allege. ”
The third-party claim also alleges that the police were negligent in:
- Despite warnings from organizers, they were overwhelmed by the number of vehicles.
- Read intelligence reports, watch the news, and see other coverage of the “widespread awareness of the size and scope of the protests (or that police were aware of them but chose to ignore them)” I didn’t.
- I couldn’t plan properly.
- “Moving inexperienced executives into leadership positions.”
- They also did not instruct the vehicle (or did not allow police to do so in a timely manner) to leave downtown when the vehicle “was found not to depart voluntarily.”
Both the Ottawa Police Services Board and the Ottawa Police Service declined to comment. The board must respond within 20 days of being served with a third-party complaint, which can take up to 30 days.
“Interesting legal maneuvers”
Paul Champ, an attorney who represents Zexi Li and the other plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, thinks the lawsuit’s claims are a bit more substantial.
He said it’s true that Ottawans were angry with police during the protests and repeatedly said they felt police were not protecting them.
“But that doesn’t necessarily mean the protesters themselves are saying, ‘Well, [police] He made me do it,” Champ added.
“We had a little bit of confirmation at the public safety emergency committee that the police were actually escorting them downtown and giving them parking. And we saw that people in Ottawa were very upset about that. There is no doubt that this is an interesting legal issue.”
“I don’t know if it’s necessarily right to blame others for your own misconduct, but let’s see how the Ottawa Police Department responds.”
As for claims that police did not tell protesters to leave, Champ said it was “obviously false” that no one did.
“I don’t think it could have been more obvious that these people were acting illegally and crossing the threshold of peaceful assembly,” he said.
Manson, the lawyer for the convoy organizers, said he is not aware of any evidence to suggest that Ottawa police “instructed the truck driver to leave in the same way they directed the truck driver to park.” If there is, police said they may conduct discovery. If they choose.