Ottawa mayor, former chief concerned over police donations to convoy

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and a former city police chief say they are concerned over the prospect of police members donating to the so-called Freedom Convoy.

CBC News matched at least 26 current, former police force members to convoy donations

Active police officers who donated to convoy protest should face investigation, mayor says

2 years ago
Duration 0:48
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says it’s concerning that active police officers allegedly donated to an illegal protest, though it’s up to the police chief to determine whether disciplinary action is warranted.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he is concerned over the prospect of police members donating to the so-called Freedom Convoy, but said it isn't up to him to investigate the matter.

CBC News matched at least two dozen current and former members of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) and Ontario Provincial Police with a publicly leaked list of names identified as apparent donors to GiveSendGo, a crowdfunding site used to support the weeks-long occupation in Ottawa.

"We expect our police to enforce the law, and not to support those who are breaking the law," Watson said to reporters Wednesday. "The chief of police obviously has the responsibility to look into that to determine what steps, if any, have to be taken against those officers."

Watson said he is proud of the vast majority of police and their response to the demonstration that occupied Ottawa for three weeks.

"Any number contributing to the illegal activity is something I'm concerned about," he said. 

Former Ottawa police chief Charles Bordeleau said any active police officer donating to a campaign like GiveSendGo is in conflict and potentially in breach of the Police Services Act.

"Especially when the donation is being made to an organization that is conducting illegal activity while at the same time the police are trying to put an end to that illegal activity," he said. 

WATCH | Former chief calls alleged donations 'disappointing':

Police officers who allegedly donated to convoy protest ‘disappointing,’ says former chief

2 years ago
Duration 1:16
Former Ottawa police chief Charles Bordeleau says it’s disappointing that a few police officers allegedly donated to the convoy protest while most officers were actively trying to put an end to the occupation.

Police won't confirm investigation into donations

Ottawa police won't confirm whether they are investigating the matter, saying in a statement a review of its "response to the unlawful demonstrations is underway." 

It's unclear what legal or disciplinary consequences — if any — police officers could face for donating money.

Bordeleau said it was important for police forces to gather facts before making judgments about the donations. 

"It's not appropriate for me to prejudge, or anybody within the police service to prejudge the outcome," he said.

"It's important they gather all the facts, the circumstances around the donation, and then to ascertain whether or not it does meet the threshold for a misconduct charge under the Police Act, or any other offence."

Donations to the protesters were made through the site starting Feb. 2, the same day Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the protest was "becoming illegal."

Shortly after, the City of Ottawa and Ontario government declared separate states of emergency, freezing access to any funds raised on the platform for what was then termed an "illegal occupation" by Premier Doug Ford.

A few police officers stand on Parliament Hill as the number of protesters began to swell on Jan. 28. (Ivanoh Demers/CBC)

OPP launches internal investigation

The OPP said it is aware members "appear to have made donations that have gone toward the unlawful protest in Ottawa," and the matter has reached the force's top command.

"The OPP Professional Standards Unit has launched an internal conduct investigation into this matter," wrote acting OPP media relations manager Bill Dickson. "We cannot comment or speculate on the outcome of the investigation."

Dickson said the OPP would not say how many members it was investigating.

After comparing the names of donors living in Ontario to publicly accessible salary disclosure lists of police officers, CBC found roughly 60 people with potential connections to law enforcement based on information they provided to GiveSendGo.

CBC then cross-referenced the information with other publicly available sources such as postal codes, social media accounts and archived news stories, and was able to match at least 26 donors to current and former police members — six with Ottawa police and 20 with the OPP.

For some OPS officers, CBC was able to further confirm their names, and at times their donation amounts, with sources within the force.

CBC is not naming the officers because they have not been charged or disciplined and none agreed to be on the record.

Repeated attempts to contact police members who appear to have donated to GiveSendGo were largely unsuccessful.