“Freedom convoy”: nearly $200,000 paid to a communication agency

“Freedom Convoy” s to a communication agency

MISE À DAY

OTTAWA – The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) paid $185,992.85 to the communications agency Navigator to support it during the occupation of the federal capital in January and February.   

Navigator staff participated in daily meetings with PAHO management.

They provided typical communications services, such as analysis of media coverage of the crisis, speaking notes and presentations , support for the organization of press conferences, writing press releases, etc.

But that's not all.

According to the detailed invoice presented in evidence before the commission of inquiry into emergency measures this morning, the firm also gave strategic advice.

Navigator also ensured the link with representatives of civil society, including elected members of the municipal council. She also lobbied politicians to win their support.

The company's influence was such that handwritten notes from Acting Deputy Chief Patricia Ferguson, filed in evidence, suggest that she feared that she would negatively influence field operations and endanger officers.

The ex-chief of the OPS, Peter Sloly, who is today cross-examined at the commission, denies having discussed the operations with this communication firm.

But, during his testimony he A few days ago, Steve Bell, who replaced Mr. Sloly at the heart of the crisis, also expressed concern about Navigator's influence. According to him, ex-Chief Sloly engaged in “inappropriate” discussions with Navigator experts by including them in discussions “about how the police were handling operations”.

Mr. Sloly is the one who hired Navigator, according to Mr. Bell's testimony. The hiring was done long before the first trucks arrived in Ottawa to support Chief Sloly.

Navigator's motto is “losing is not an option”. The firm specializes in public relations, crisis management, lobbying and polling.

It describes itself as “Canada’s premier issues management and strategic communications company.” “At the intersection of business, politics and civil society, we help our clients create value, engage stakeholders and build coalitions of support,” she explains on her website. .

In addition to Navigator, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino's office saw the convoy as a communication opportunity, according to text messages filed in evidence by the protesters' attorney this morning.

These messages, issued by an adviser to Mr. Mendicino's cabinet in the days before the first trucks arrived in the federal capital, indicate that “some of the most extreme comments” from truckers are calling to an insurrection similar to that of January 6, 2021, in Washington. 

“I think there may be an opportunity to use this growing narrative on truckers,” the text message reads. In response, another counselor wrote, “there is a danger that if we go too hard, it could drive the crazies.”