Judge grants interim injunction against loud honking at Ottawa protest

Judge grants interim injunction against loud honking at Ottawa protest
A cyclist rides towards a police barricade where trucks are lined up near Parliament hill on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Ontario Superior Court Justice Hugh McLean has granted a 10-day injunction to prevent truckers parked on city streets in downtown Ottawa from honking their horns incessantly.

McLean said Monday the injunction is temporary because he needs to hear more evidence, but that he has heard enough to make this ruling as a protest against COVID-19 pandemic measures that continues to paralyze the national capital around Parliament Hill.

Paul Champ, a lawyer representing central Ottawa residents in a proposed multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit, had argued the loud and prolonged honking is causing irreparable harm.

Keith Wilson, representing three of the respondents in the case, had told McLean the ruling on the injunction would carry national importance.

McLean said he heard enough evidence that the continual blaring of horns was having an effect on residents that their right for “quiet, if we can use that term,” trumped the honking truckers’ right to protest.

But McLean said the injunction was temporary because a “myriad of people” may still wish to come before the court to be heard.

The hearing adjourned and the court is slated to hear more evidence on how the injunction will be enforced.

Earlier Monday, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said an “angry crowd” should not be allowed to dictate policies to fight COVID-19.

Protesters have “crossed the line of acceptable conduct” toward fellow Canadians in their bid to pressure the government, Mendicino said during a federal update on the ongoing events.

“We all want to see a return to normal life,” Mendicino said.

“And I assure you that day is coming soon.”

But he stressed the importance of science and good-faith efforts to deal with the pandemic.

“We believe in peace, order and good government in Canada,” he said. “Canadians deserve to feel safe in their communities and no one is above the law.”

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, who also took part in the briefing, said it is not the role of any government to direct law-enforcement operations.

But he announced that a trilateral table of federal, provincial and municipal partners would help oversee the response.

There have been numerous calls for the federal government to manage the protest response. Ministers and MPs have taken a guarded approach so far, citing the imperative to keep politics separate from policing.

The news conference was held online instead of on Parliament Hill, the scene of what some have called an occupation or siege as big-rig trucks and other vehicles clog up the city core.

Amid blaring truck horns, the demonstration has included open fires, makeshift feeding stations, encampments and numerous — sometimes profane — anti-government signs.

Some local politicians have called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take a more active role in the situation. Trudeau’s itinerary says he is having private meetings today somewhere in the National Capital Region.

Protesters and some MPs are urging Trudeau to meet the organizers. The prime minister took that off the table a week ago, saying he had no intention of meeting with a “fringe minority” that holds “unacceptable views.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh criticized Trudeau on Monday for a lack of leadership, saying the prime minister “needs to be present” to deal with the protest, but had “not been visible” so far.

Singh said people felt the federal government “has been missing” and wanted to see leadership from ministers.

Singh wants an emergency debate in the House of Commons and blames the Liberals for using the protest as “a wedge issue.” He said all parties should work together to find a way to get the protesters to “go home now”.

The so-called Freedom Convoy rolled into the national capital over a week ago and many in the hundreds of vehicles in the core have vowed to stay until all COVID-19 restrictions, including mask and vaccination mandates, are lifted.

City police say the situation has taxed their resources, and Ottawa’s mayor has declared a state of emergency partially aimed at underlining the need for extra help from upper levels of government.

On Monday, Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly asked the mayor to request 1,800 additional police and civilian personnel for immediate use until the end of the demonstration in the city.

That would nearly double the existing resources of the entire Ottawa Police Service, which has 2,100 police and civilian members.

Watson said he would make the request of the Ontario and federal governments.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Sunday the province has given Ottawa everything the municipality has requested, and will continue to do so.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2022.


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