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Former Sask. woman testifies at inquiry into use of Emergencies Act

Victoria Da La Ronde said she heard 'phantom horns' for weeks. She was born in Saskatoon and grew up in Meadow Lake. She graduated from the University of Saskatchewan and went on to work as a contract lawyer for the Government of Canada.

OTTAWA – A former Saskatchewan resident living in downtown Ottawa said that she heard “phantom horns" for weeks after the honking stopped during protests in Ottawa.

Victoria Da La Ronde was the first witness to testify at the Public Order Emergency Commission on Oct. 14. Justice Paul S. Rouleau is presiding over the inquiry.

On Feb. 14, to stop the trucker and freedom convoy protests, the Liberal government declared a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act. This was the first time in Canada’s history that the Emergenies Act had been invoked. 

Da La Ronde told the inquiry that she has lived in downtown Ottawa for 30 years and the trucker freedom convoy protests impacted her health. The 75-year-old legally blind woman was born in Saskatoon and grew up in Meadow Lake.

“I had a phantom horn blowing as an experience for a number of weeks after,” said Da La Ronde, adding that she attributed it to the “very, very loud and constant noise from the horns, from the music, and from the idling trucks.”

She said even when the horns would stop you could hear idling trucks all night.

“It was just an assault on my hearing and I can certainly tell now that there is a diminished function.”

Da La Ronde told the inquiry that she couldn’t escape the noise and felt helpless, and trapped in her home.

Getting a “good night’s sleep or a full night’s sleep” was “almost impossible,” she said.

Da La Ronde still “jumps” when she hears a loud horn and becomes distressed when she smells gas, she told the inquiry.

“The long-term effects are a loss of hearing, loss of balance, some vertigo triggered by the sound of any horn, trigger by certain music as the music was very loud.

“And the physical trigger when I get a smell of gas, both my throat and lungs start to feel infected,” she added.

Da La Ronde said in spite of her disability she had worked hard for her independence but lost that during the protests downtown.

"The sound was so high that I could not hear any chimes or signals that we use at the ends of the street to tell us that it's safe to cross." 

Da La Ronde said during the protests she no longer had access to taxi, Uber, or public transportation, and no grocery or prescription delivery.

Under cross-examination, Da La Ronde admitted to lawyer Brendan Miller, who represents convoy organizers, that after getting her law degree she started doing contract policy work for the federal government. She also admitted that she started a company in the 1980s, which is still in operation, and she gets a lot of federal government contracts. 

When Miller asked Da La Ronde how she became a witness for the commission she admitted that lawyers for the commission called her and asked her if she would put her name forward as a witness.

Difficult to maintain productivity: Witness

Federal government employee 22-year-old Zexi Li was the second witness to testify.

Li had launched a class-action lawsuit against the convoy and was granted an injunction on Feb. 7 to stop the honking. She told the inquiry that she was working from home at the time of the protests in Ottawa and had a difficult time “maintaining productivity due to the disturbances.”

Li said that she didn’t witness any violence by the protesters but rather “intimidation with a truck.” She also told the inquiry that she had received harassing phone calls and emails.

In addition, Li said there wasn’t any police or bylaw enforcement against lawlessness including noise, vehicles idling, illegal parking, fireworks, public urination and defecation, harassment on the streets, and fires.

“I think there was a pig, like a whole pig being roasted,” said Li. “I think it was under a fire. And there were several bonfires, oftentimes on corners and intersections where there were people huddled around it, often accompanied by signs and flags.”

Li admitted that she had confrontations with the protesters telling them to “go back to where the [expletive] you are from.”

Uncer cross-examination, Miller got Li to admit that she knows Ottawa City Councilor Catherine McKenna and NDP Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa Centre Joel Harden. Miller pointed out that Coun. McKenna was handing out copies of the injunction to protesters and truckers for Li and that MPP Harden was contacting people and organizing events to raise money for Li’s injunction lawsuit.

Li also admitted that staff working for lawyer Paul Champ, who represents a coalition of downtown Ottawa business and community associations, needed a plaintiff and asked her to be a lead plaintiff.

The inquiry

The Public Order Emergency Commission’s final report with findings and recommendations must be tabled in the House of Commons and Senate of Canada by Feb. 20, 2023.

The hearings started Oct. 13 and are expected to run until Nov. 25 with 65 witnesses being called. Witnesses include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, Justice Minister David Lametti, as well as representatives from Ottawa Police, Ontario Provincial Police, CSIS, and lawyers from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. Members of the trucker convoy and freedom movement will also testify, including Pat King, Tamara Lich, Tom Marazzo, and Chris Barber.

The Province of Saskatchewan has standing at the inquiry. On Oct. 13, lawyer Mike Morris representing Saskatchewan Justice and the Province of Saskatchewan gave opening statements. 

Public participation

The public is invited to contact the commission. They can email , or write Public Order Emergency Commission, c/o Main Floor Security Desk, 90 Sparks Street, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A3.

Submissions should be one or two pages, up to about five pages. The public may provide supporting materials, if any, as attachments.

The Commission accepts anonymous submissions, but asks that you identify your country of residence. All submissions will be read and considered by the Commission, and your submission may be referred to or quoted by the Commission either in a written report or during the public hearings. No identifying information will be used without your express permission.

If you have any questions about sending comments please email your questions to

Story corrected to say Emergencies Act

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