OTTAWA – A wounded Canadian Armed Forces combat veteran told the inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act that it was his “duty” to protect protesters in Ottawa.
“When I joined the military, I swore an oath to protect people,” said Chris Deering who served in Afghanistan. “I went to a war zone to protect those people. I never thought that someday I would have to do it on Canadian soil, but I did, and I will again. I would.”
Deering told the Public Order Emergency Commission that police pulled him to the ground, kicked and beat him.
“As the police took me down, he kneed me in my side, and kicked me in my back. I was laying down. I was in the fetal position on my back. He kicked me in my ankle and my foot. As I was laying down, I had my hands completely up. I'm saying, ‘I'm very peaceful. I'm peaceful. I'm not resisting.’ I was then punched four or five times in my head. I had a knee on my back to keep myself down. I was on the ground for one-and-a-half to two minutes.”
Deering testified that he, and approximately 20 veterans, were lined up about 100 feet from the National War Memorial when the incident occurred. The veterans had created a barrier between police and protesters in an attempt to protect protesters.
“We lined right up, we linked arms and the consensus was we were going to stay there and try and protect the people.
“We were standing. We were not moving. We were not progressing, moving forward. We were telling the cops what they were doing was unlawful. We had every right to be there under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms to peacefully protest, which we were doing. They had no right to do what they did.”
He testified that during this time he had the opportunity to tell police that he was seriously wounded in Afghanistan and asked them not to be violent with him.
After being arrested, Deering said he and other protesters were forced to stand in a processing line for about two hours.
“I had no gloves on. I was standing there in the cold for two hours. I asked the policemen on both sides of me, I said, ‘Do you mind, you know my condition, is it okay if I sit or kneel because I'm in chronic pain?’ It was obvious. My face was flushed, and I had cried multiple times, and I don't cry ever.
"It was the worst pain I had felt since I'd been blown up. The fact that I couldn't sit, or stand was, to me, cruel and unusual punishment. We would go 15, 20 minutes without even moving. I also asked if I could have my medication, which I had my prescription and my medication on my person, so that if I needed it, I could ask. I asked, and I was denied my medication.
“We finished the processing line after about two hours."
They were later taken to a remote location and left in the bitter cold of -20C. Deering said they didn't know where they were and their cell phone batteries had died so they had to walk a long distance in the freezing temperature to find a phone to use to call for help.
Deering told the inquiry that he was also motivated to participate in the protests in Ottawa to protect Canadians Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“The last two years, it’s just been constant persecution after persecution. The government has a role but when they want to get into your lives and tell you who you can see, when you can see them, and dictate everything about your life, and when they get too intrusive, the overreach for me was just, it was just too much. I had to be in Ottawa. It was my duty. I had no choice.”
At the end of his testimony, Deering, who testified on Nov. 4, asked if he could speak directly to Justice Paul Rouleau who is presiding over the inquiry.
“I’d like to ask you, as a veteran, I’m asking you that this never happens again. You have the power of a whole country behind your opinion. Please use it. Protect the Canadian people from this kind of misbehaviour from this government towards its people ever again, please.”
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 Emergencies Act had been invoked.
The hearings started Oct. 13 and are expected to run until Nov. 25 with 65 witnesses being called. 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.