Convoy-supporting police officer loses 60 hours pay for leaking Chief’s email, Whitby HQ decides

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Published November 21, 2022 at 7:11 pm

A Durham Regional Police officer has been docked 60 hours of pay last weekend after voicing support for the so-called Freedom Convoy to Ottawa and doxing his Chief to other supporters.

As the “Freedom Convoy” approached Ottawa in February, Durham police Cst. Erin Howard posted a video from her cruiser while in uniform in support of the movement.

The convoy was ostensibly formed in opposition to the Federal COVID-19 vaccination requirements and a ban on truckers crossing the Canada-United States border if they weren’t vaccinated. This ban was enforced on both sides of the border, and truckers could still pass provincial borders.

When the trucks were still moving through the Prairies, Howard posted her video in solidarity saying, “I really want to give a big shout-out to all the truckers. I think what you guys are doing is incredible. You’re fighting for our rights and freedoms. Right now it feels like we’re a little bit at war and those rights and freedom are at stake.”

Days later, the Convoy arrived in Ottawa and quickly dug in. The supporters built informal communities around their vehicles on the streets of the capital, including cooking stations, bouncy castles, hot tubs and improvised sheds full of gasoline.

On the first day of their arrival, some supporters vandalized a statue of Terry Fox, danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and urinated on the War Memorial. Later some convoy supporters were seen flying Nazi flags.

The convoy morphed into a general grievance protest as things went on venting anger at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Government and COVID-19 more broadly over time. Convoy leadership demanded the dissolution of parliament to be replaced by the governor-general.

The convoy blasted Ottawa with their truck horns, blocked traffic and harrassed residents for another three weeks. In all Ottawa police filed over 500 criminal charges against Convoy supporters throughout the month. The convoy ultimately caused millions of dollars in damages and lost revenue to city businesses.

Ottawa, Ontario and Canada declared states of emergency. The convoy was not broken up until the government invoked the previously untouched Emergencies Act to grant police extra powers.

While the Ottawa Police Service has since testified they did not feel the Act was necessary, OPP members and CSIS Director CSIS Director David Vigneault have testified otherwise.

Meanwhile, Howard’s video in support, was making the rounds online. Two days after police became aware of Howard’s video her husband, fellow Durham police Cst Clayton Harnum, posted her photo on Instagram with the caption.

“Freedom of Speech is essential. Please show your support for Constable Erin Howard. Email: [Durham police Chief Todd Rollauer’s email address]. Let them know you stand with Erin,” read the caption.

After Harnum’s post, despite his small following, Rollauer received more than 500 emails from Convoy supporters. As a result the Chief office had to run “extremely time-consuming” threat assessments on the emailers.

Both Howard and Harnum were later charged with discreditable conduct while Howard gained additional charges of insubordination and breach of confidence.

While under investigation the pair were spotted in Peterborough with Hold Fast members. This group garnered infamy for hurling abuse at NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh last spring during a campaign stop in town.

Howard and Harnum later met with the anti-vax group “Hold Fast,” which harassed Jagmeet Singh in Peterborough last spring.

Ultimately Harnum pled guilty to his charge. The prosecution at his hearing pushed for a 90-hour wage forfeiture, while Harnum’s defense pushed for a only a reprimand.

The case adjudicator, M.P.B. Elbers, wrote in his decision, “In this case, we have a uniform employee who wished to support his wife actions as it relates to free speech. The issue that the Tribunal faces is that Harnum’s actions are in direct violation of his Oath of Office.”

“He may of thought what he did was not offensive or wrong. This was a mistake,” Elbers continued, noting that Harnum was previously a well-respected officer with no prior disciplinary record.

However he found, “The lack of an apology or an acknowledgement of wrongdoing is troubling. I am not sure that Constable Harnum recognizes the seriousness of his actions.”

“Constable Hamum must accept what he did was unacceptable. His emotions as a husband superseded his professionalism as a police officer for the Durham Regional Police Service.”

Elbers concluded Harnum, “conducted [himself] with a total lack of professionalism, judgment and courtesy, which is expected of all members of the Durham Regional Police Service,” and as such docked his pay by 60 hours.

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