Ottawa’s Right-Wing ‘Freedom Convoy’ Was Assisted by Canadian Police and Federal Officials

The right-wing trucker “convoy” protesting vaccination mandates in Canada in early 2022 received information from personnel in both local and federal law enforcement, according to their attorney.

The Toronto Star reported that the attorney, Keith Wilson, testified before a government inquiry that organizers for the self-described “Freedom Convoy” were tipped off by not only local police in Ottawa — the nation’s capital — but provincial police as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

“There was a steady stream of of information and leaks coming from all of the different police forces and security agencies,” Wilson told reporters after testifying.

According to the newspaper, Wilson is one of four attorneys who “gave legal advice” to the trucker group, a fringe faction of the profession which organized around familiar right-wing causes (opposition to vaccines) and channels (Facebook, Telegram, right-wing outlets) to attempt to paralyze Ottawa through gridlock and noise pollusion.

The campaign presaged a similar effort in the U.S. a month later, in which American truckers drove around the Washington, D.C. area for three weeks before finally departing. In late October 2022, Brazilian truckers loyal to outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro also used their vehicles to ensnare traffic to protest his loss to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, but they were quickly ordered to stop by that country’s Supreme Court.

Wilson also appeared in a February 15 2022 video entered into evidence in the inquiry, asking other Canadians to join the truckers in defying emergency powers invoked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to clear the city.

“This emergency order from the federal government does not restrict Canadians’ rights of peaceful assembly,” Wilson said in the video, which was posted by “convoy” organizer Chris Barber on TikTok.

Wilson testified that the truckers received information about purported “raids,” enabling organizers to funnel people who brought children to their area to nearby safehouses provided by supporters.

“There was a lot of police officers — then and now — that believed that what the government did was absolutely wrong,” he later claimed to reporters.

The inquiry is being headed by the Public Order Emergency Commission, which was established by the Canadian government in April 2022. It is slated to hold hearings through November 25 2022.

The RCMP told us via email that it will “refrain from commenting” on issues related to the convoy prior to agency officials testifying before the commission in November 2022. Ottawa provincial police said in a statement to the Star that they would “actively investigate any allegations brought forward to determine if there is any factual basis for such claims.”

The CSIS did not respond to a request for comment.

Updated 11/4/2022, 3:15 p.m.: Updated to reflect a response from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. — ag