Disturbing scenes emerged from Canada over the weekend as police moved in to disperse protesters, employing what was widely seen as excessive force against peaceful demonstrators. Police had warned protesters that they would be forcibly dismantling their encampments and arresting any who remained. Protesters still at the scene were evidently prepared to face arrest, but the use of batons, anti-riot firearms with nonlethal rounds, and horses was seen as needless aggression.
Upheaval continues in Canada
Fortunately, rumors that an elderly woman had been trampled to death as police officers rode their horses through the crowd proved to be false.
The woman in question is reported to have been seriously injured but survived her ordeal, though the actions of the police easily could have resulted in her death.
Ottawa police initially reacted to the controversial footage by declaring to the rest of Canada that the protesters had brought it on themselves by refusing to leave willingly.
The tone changed when they responded to a statement from the Special Investigations Unit, a government agency in Ontario which investigates police conduct.
The department said “We respect the oversight process and will always fully cooperate” after learning that the Special Investigations Unit was asking for people injured by the Ottawa police at the protest to contact them.
More than 100 protesters were arrested in total. Only a small number remained when the police moved in, which raises the question of why they felt the need to show so much aggression against what should have been a very manageable crowd.
Trudeau keeps his emergency powers
It will be difficult for Justin Trudeau’s government to justify some of the imagery which came from the clash, including nonviolent protesters being beaten and pepper sprayed.
Similar force was never deployed against leftist rioters; police brought every tool in their arsenal to drive out protesters who have not been accused of doing anything more violent than honking their horns and blocking roads.
Trudeau employed the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canadian history to give himself the power to break up the protests, which he had been otherwise incapable of handling.
The embattled prime minister has still not dropped his emergency powers, even after ending the specific protests which were to be the target of the act.
Trudeau and his political allies described the protests as attacks on democracy, but the ruling party defending democracy by trampling protesters under horse’s hooves is a novel scene in Canada.
What remains to be seen is how willing the mainstream media and other liberals who have decried violence from the police react to these scenes; not much interest from that quarter so far.