OTTAWA (Monday, June 27, 2022) — The steering committee of the Ottawa People’s Commission on the Convoy Occupation is officially launching this initiative today by announcing the appointment of three commissioners. These distinguished individuals will, over the coming months, conduct a series of public hearings in which residents of Ottawa-Gatineau affected by this winter’s convoy occupation of the national capital will be invited to describe their experiences, give voice to their concerns and begin rebuilding trust and accountability in a traumatized community.
The three prominent, Ottawa-based individuals who have agreed to serve as commissioners and deliver a final report by early 2023 are: Leilani Farha, a lawyer and global director of The Shift — a housing rights advocacy organization — who served as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing from 2014 to 2022; Alex Neve, a human rights lawyer and educator and the former secretary general of Amnesty International Canada; and Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah, a long-time social justice advocate and executive director of the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity.
The Ottawa People’s Commission is a grassroots initiative aimed at responding — in a democratic, inclusive and constructive way — to the deeply disturbing and harmful occupation the city endured for more than three weeks in January and February 2022.
Initiated by Ottawa freedom-of-information advocate, community activist and philanthropist Ken Rubin, the commission has secured the support of the Centretown Community Health Centre as its anchor agency and fundraising portal. The health centre was one of many community service organizations whose vital work was disrupted during the illegal, trucker-led siege of the city, which was sparked by opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates but gave rise to a range of hateful messages.
“Ongoing local and federal reviews of what happened in the national capital — and across Canada — during the past winter are barely scratching the surface of the dangerous, undemocratic and hurtful occupation that took place,” said Mr. Rubin at a news conference today at the Ottawa Public Library’s Main Branch.
“We need this independent, non-partisan inquiry to hear from ordinary citizens, advocacy organizations and social agencies, business owners, workers and others whose lives were turned upside down during the occupation. We need answers from authorities about how such a damaging assault on the city was allowed to occur and to strengthen the capacity of Ottawa and other Canadian communities to prevent and resist such belligerence in the future.”
Community consultations and hearings are being planned for late summer and throughout the fall. The commissioners will gather testimony and written submissions, aiming to release final recommendations ahead of the one-year anniversary of the start of the convoy occupation in late January 2023.
The OPC steering committee — drawn from a diverse array of Ottawa-based volunteers with a shared concern about the occupation’s adverse impacts — will provide oversight to commission operations, support the commissioners in their work and manage funding needs. An Inner-City Stakeholders Group representing a wide range of organizations and interests in the community will also be formed to bolster these efforts.
The OPC will be funded by donations from the public, foundations, businesses, unions and local agencies committed to rebuild and renew our community. Mr. Rubin, through the Ken and Debbie Rubin Public Interest Advocacy Fund, has made a generous donation through a new channel created by the Ottawa Community Foundation to support the commission.
The Centretown Community Health Centre is also providing generous funding and substantial in-kind administrative contributions to ensure the success of this initiative.
Donations to support the work of the commission can be made through the commission’s website at opc-cpo.ca.
For more information about the Ottawa People’s Commission on the Convoy Occupation, visit opc-cpo.ca or contact:
Randy Boswell, OPC Communications Coordinator
[email protected] or 613-868-8447
Tim McSorley, French-language media contact
[email protected] or 613-608-9917