Windsor’s mayor says he’s still waiting for a response from upper levels of government about his request for a debrief about Ambassador Bridge blockade, and how those governments will help prevent a similar protest in the future.
During the commission last week examining the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act, it was revealed Drew Dilkens sent a letter to the provincial and federal governments on March 17. He asked for a “collaborative debriefing” with the goal of “mitigating similar risk in the future.”
On Monday, the mayor’s chief of staff Andrew Teliszewsky told CBC News they haven’t received a response before or after Dilkens testified before the commission last week.
“The need for broader collaboration and support from provincial and federal governments to bolster the safety and security of our borders appears obvious,” Dilkens said in the two-page letter to provincial and federal ministers.
The anti-COVID-19 public health measures protest, which blocked traffic bound for the Windsor-Detroit border crossing, began on the evening of Feb. 7 and lasted until Feb. 13. Two days after protestors were clear, police announced they laid at least 90 charges against 46 people. In July, police arrested and charged two people they believe were the leaders of the blockade.
Dilkens sent the letter to Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino. Mendicino was in Windsor last week, but when asked, didn’t say why there hasn’t been a debriefing with Windsor.
Instead, he said the commission may expose lessons learned from the blockade, something he calls “a new type of phenomenon.”
“I think one of the important questions will be whether or not we need to update our existing legal authorities so that all branches of law enforcement can more quickly mobilize and coordinate their efforts to ensure we can address this new type of threat,” said Mendicino.
Mendicino’s chief of staff tells CBC News he speaks with Dilkens “very regularly.” The spokesperson said the two have spoken many times since the blockade ended and have a one-on-one meeting scheduled in the coming weeks.
Ontario’s deputy solicitor general of community safety, Mario Di Tommaso, testified Thursday he wasn’t aware of the letter sent to his boss Sylvia Jones, solicitor general at the time. In February, Di Tommaso was the commissioner of emergency management.
He also said he has not spoken to the current minister, Michael Kerzner, about this issue.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General said the Keeping Ontario Open for Business Act was passed and better enables law enforcement to protect international border crossings.
The ministry also said the OPP held an operational debriefing with the Windsor Police Service in September.
Hundreds of police officers from across Canada, including the OPP and RCMP, came to Windsor to help. The city had asked the federal and Ontario governments to reimburse more than $5.6 million in expenses related to the week-long blockade at the Ambassador Bridge border crossing by pandemic mandate protesters.
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