Ottawa police officer ordered to forfeit 40 hours pay for donating to ‘Freedom Convoy’

An Ottawa police officer will forfeit 40 hours of pay for donating to “Freedom Convoy” fundraisers during the protest in downtown Ottawa last winter.

Const. Kristina Neilson pleaded guilty to a single count of discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act last month.

In a decision released on Friday, Neilson was ordered to forfeit 40 hours of pay and participate in a Restorative Justice process as approved by the Professional Standards Unit of the Ottawa Police Service.

According to the agreed statement of facts, Neilson donated $55 through GoFundMe on Jan. 23, two days after vehicles began arriving in the Parliamentary Precinct as part of the protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health restrictions.

On Feb. 4, GoFundMe removed the fundraiser from its platform, stating it violated its terms of service, and refunded or froze all donations. On the same day, former Chief Peter Sloly called the demonstration an “unlawful occupation.”

The agreed statement of facts says GoFundMe refunded the donation to Neilson; and the same day Neilson donated $55 through a GiveSendGo fundraising campaign. That donation was refunded on March 25.

In February, the Ottawa Police Services’ Professional Standards Unit was alerted that Neilson had donated to the Freedom Convoy through GiveSendGo, and launched a Professional Standards Section investigation.

The officer admitted to donating to GoFundMe and through GiveSendGo during the Professional Standards Unit investigation.

Neilson joined the Ottawa Police Service in 2012.  Neilson previously served 12 years in the Royal Canadian Navy as a Master Seaman.

Const. Neilson had no previous record of substantiated misconduct.

Both the prosecution and Neilson’s defence recommended the penalty of 40 hours of forfeited pay and participating in a Restorative Justice process.

The penalty decision notes, “Neilson’s misconduct is confined to her small monetary donation to the Freedom Convoy and there is no evidence of any actions beyond a monetary contribution.”

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