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Winter protests in Ottawa and Alberta cost RCMP millions, documents show

The RCMP spent more than $1.6 million during the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa and another $1.2 million policing protests in Alberta, according to a CBC access to information request. 

Most of the cost in Ottawa is from travel.

The RCMP spent more than $1.6 million during the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, according to a CBC access to information request.

Documents also revealed the force spent another $1.2 million on policing protests in Alberta, the majority at the U.S. border in Coutts, Alta.

In total, the RCMP spent nearly $3 million policing the two protests.

Ottawa’s downtown streets were deadlocked for weeks as thousands converged around Parliament Hill to protest several grievances, from pandemic-related mandates to general disdain for the federal government.

Police were eventually able to successfully remove protesters and tow trucks and other vehicles clogging key downtown arteries.

The majority of the RCMP’s security costs processed by its financial system during the Ottawa protests between Jan. 23 and March 1, according to the documents, is from travel.

That price tag, according to RCMP, represents costs in Ottawa for overtime and travel expenditures, including meals and accommodations, processed by the RCMP financial system. It shows in addition to spending $1,606,175 on travel, the RCMP spent $13,000 on accommodations and $6,720 on meals.

A separate disclosure from the RCMP shows the Château Laurier hotel in downtown Ottawa was used by the force for things like processing arrests during its enforcement actions against Freedom Convoy protesters.

An invoice summary from the hotel to the RCMP lists $234,995.79 being spent on “events.” The bill also shows the RCMP spent $2,700 on 75 hot breakfast buffet meals at the hotel.

No additional information is provided. Spending disclosed by the RCMP does not include regular salary and “indirect costs, including those related to supporting units.”

Earlier this month, documents released by the city of Ottawa showed its costs stemming from the Freedom Convoy would be in the range of $37 million.

Spending in Alberta

Between Jan. 29 and Feb. 16, the RCMP spent an additional $1,209,430 on policing in Alberta, the bulk of it at the U.S border near Coutts.

A slightly more detailed costing of RCMP spending in Alberta was provided. It shows $158,858.24 was spent on overtime for members at the border and $34,439.25 on “investigational services.”

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story misidentified the amount the RCMP spent on travel costs in Ottawa. The cost, according to documents provided by RCMP, is $1,606,175.
    Jun 24, 2022 9:11 AM ET

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Fraser is an Ottawa-based journalist for CBC News who previously reported in Alberta and Saskatchewan. He enjoys being outside, playing hockey and spending time with his family. You can reach him at david.fraser@cbc.ca.

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