A pair of phone lines for the Canadian military received more than 300 phone calls over the weekend from convoy supporters urging the military to protect the protesters in Ottawa from police operations.
Department of National Defence spokesperson Dan Le Bouthillier told CTVNews.ca that the military media phone line received about 360 calls from people primarily urging the military to intervene with the police operation in downtown Ottawa and“protect the peaceful protests.”
“Of course, I tried to listen to several of the very passionate callers and recommend they contact their members of Parliament to voice their concern,” Le Bouthillier wrote in an email.
“None of the calls I took were rude or mischievous. All the calls were very cordial, just perhaps misplaced through the media relations office.”
The flood of calls appears to have originated from a video posted to Facebook from Feb. 19, alleging that police intervention in the protests last weekend was illegal and that the protesters needed military help. The post includes the phone numbers of the military’s media line and the military’s Ottawa office, where supporters were asked to call and “ask for intervention.”
The person in the video states the phone number several times, but only refers to it as the number for “national defence.” The video has been viewed more than 6,400 times, with more than 900 shares.
This is not the only bit of misinformation stemming from the protests in downtown Ottawa over the weekend.
A viral TikTok claimed that a plane with United Nations decals sitting in North Bay, Ont.’s Jack Garland Airport had brought in troops from other countries to break up the protests in Ottawa. North Bay is nearly 360 kilometres away from the capital.
In reality, the plane had been in North Bay for several weeks as part of a “routine aircraft maintenance heavy check event,” according to Voyageur Airways, which has a maintenance facility at the airport.
“It just goes to shows how quickly one video can go viral with misinformation,” North Bay Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch told CTV News Northern Ontario at the time.
Additionally, rumours had swirled that a woman was killed after being trampled by a police horse during the protests. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which looks into cases of injuries involving police enforcement, said a woman was seriously injured during the demonstrations and is investigating the matter.