OTTAWA — An inquiry into the federal government's use of the Emergencies Act heard first-hand testimony Friday about the effect of last winter's "Freedom Convoy" protest on the people and businesses in downtown Ottawa.
Hearings are expected to run six weeks, with testimony from 65 witnesses representing all levels of government, various police agencies and organizers of the convoy.
The first six witnesses on the commission's hearing list:
— Lawyer Victoria De La Ronde, a legally blind resident of downtown Ottawa, said the protest left her feeling trapped, hopeless and unable to live independently.
— Zexi Li, a now 22-year-old public servant, filed a class-action lawsuit against "Freedom Convoy" organizers and participants on behalf of fellow downtown Ottawa residents.
Li was granted an injunction to stop protesters from using vehicle horns downtown after days of deafening honking from big-rig trucks parked in residential areas and the parliamentary precinct.
— Nathalie Carrier, executive director at ZAC Quartier Vanier Business Improvement Area, which represents the neighbourhood east of the parliamentary precinct.
— Kevin McHale, executive director of the Sparks Street Business Improvement Area, which represents the pedestrian-only shopping and dining district just south of the Parliament Buildings.
— Catherine McKenney, a city councillor who represented the downtown core of the city during the protest. The councillor, and now mayoral candidate, was a vocal opponent of the convoy protest because of the fear and disturbance it caused for people who live and work in the area.
McKenney attended a virtual meeting of city council live from the protest site to confront colleagues with the noise, chaos and "sense of lawlessness."
— Mathieu Fleury, city councillor for Rideau-Vanier, a community just east of the parliamentary precinct. He convened daily briefings between city officials and members of the local community and business groups during the convoy.
Fleury, like many council colleagues, received threats to his safety throughout the protest.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2022.
Laura Osman, The Canadian Press