OTTAWA (LifeSiteNews) – A U.S.-registered aircraft flying over the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa on multiple dates in February was confirmed as being used by Canadian special forces for surveillance, but government officials deny it was spying on protesters.
As reported first by the Globe and Mail on April 22, the King Air aircraft was spotted making what are known as flying loops around Ottawa on February 10. This was at the same time the trucker Freedom Convoy was in Ottawa protesting an end to all COVID mandates.
Canada’s Department of National Defence said at the time it was conducting military training operations in the area with the plane but did not say Canadian special forces were involved.
According to a recent Ottawa Citizen report, data gathered by Steffan Watkins shows the King Air spy plane was spotted on multiple occasions. The same report said sources from the military told them Canadian special forces were involved, however.
The plane was seen flying over the protest on January 28-29 as well as on February 3, 10, and 11.
Recently, the Canadian military announced it was buying three 350ER King Airs, kitted out with the latest in spy surveillance gear, in a deal brokered by the U.S. government.
The cost of the planes is $188 million, and according to the military, Canada’s special forces will not get its plane until this summer. The plane used for “training” was from the U.S.
The planes are said to be able to not only surveil and track people and vehicles on the ground with high-powered cameras but also to intercept people’s cellphone calls as well as other radio communications.
As reported by the Globe and Mail, Daniel Le Bouthillier, head of media relations for the Department of National Defence, claimed the flight was not spying on the Freedom Convoy but was a “training exercise that was planned prior to.”
As the flights did indeed coincide with the Freedom Convoy, this caused some Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) MPs to question the Canadian government why this was the case.
During a debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday, CPC MPs took Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to task over the reports of the spy plane.
“It appears that there was military surveillance that was conducted during the Ottawa protest,” CPC MP Rachael Thomas noted.
CPC MP Cheryl Gallant asked plainly, “Did the government invoke any statute to deploy the Canadian Armed Forces in this manner, or was the surveillance conducted without lawful authority?”
Gallant also questioned Trudeau about the spy plane.
“The government insists it did not deploy the military during the February demonstrations in Ottawa,” Gallant said.
“Now we know surveillance flights were conducted over Ottawa at that time. Did the government invoke any statute to deploy the Canadian Armed Forces in this manner, or was this surveillance conducted without lawful authority?”
Trudeau responded by denying the aircraft were spying on the Freedom Convoy, saying it was part of a “training exercise,” which was “planned prior to, and was unrelated to the convoy protest.”
“What the official opposition is playing with right here, is dangerously close to misinformation and disinformation,” Trudeau added.
CPC Kerry-Lynne Findlay said that the Trudeau Liberals “did not put soldiers on our streets, but they did put them in the air.”
“How can the Prime Minister justify using military assets to surveil,” she added.
Trudeau said in reply to Lynne Findlay that she was engaging in “conspiracy theories” and “disinformation.”
As reported in the Ottawa Citizen, Watkins said that as the plane in question could have been flying anywhere in the area on those days, its “precise circular tracks over Ottawa suggest a form of electronic surveillance.”
“Not simply digital electro-optical imagery or video,” Watkins said.
Constitutional lawyer sounds alarm over potential spying of protesters
Alberta-based civil liberties lawyer James Kitchen told LifeSiteNews that it is “obviously a serious privacy concern” if a government were to spy from the air, or otherwise on peaceful protests.
“That type of conduct is reflective of an authoritarian regime like those found in Asia and the Middle East, not a supposed free and democratic country like Canada,” Kitchen said.
Kitchen noted that any type of data collected on peaceful protesters is a “potential violation of section 8 of the Charter, which protects against unreasonable searches.”
“Or, at least, it would be, if Canadian courts still held any regard for the Charter or the constitutional rights of Canadians,” Kitchen added.
Kitchen continued, saying, “This type of thing adds to all the other oppressive actions of the Trudeau government that collectively put a severe chill on the exercise of the freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression.”
“So many people in this nation are terrified to openly express themselves or participate in a peaceful political rally because of the tyrannical response by the federal government,” he added.
Kitchen noted to LifeSiteNews that “the government should fear the people, not the other way around.”
“One of the reasons Canada is becoming so autocratic is because governments are succeeding in making people afraid of them,” he added.
CPC MP says Trudeau used ‘F-Bomb’ expletive in the house after being grilled over spy plane
According to CPC MP John Brassard, shortly after Trudeau responded to Lynne Findlay’s question about the spy plane Wednesday, he was heard using vulgar language.
“After my colleague, Kerry-Lynne Findlay sat down, the Prime Minister used an unparliamentary term, he dropped an F-Bomb, everybody in the first two rows across from the Prime Minister heard it,” Brassard said.
CPC MP John Barlow later asked the Speaker of the House to demand Trudeau apologize, but by that time he had already left.
Trudeau was asked about his use of foul language but responded in riddles, saying, “What is the nature of your thoughts, gentlemen, when you say — when you move your lips in a particular way?”
The reference was famously used by his father, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, after he as well was said to have used an “F-bomb” in parliament in 1971.