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Union exec arrested at strike rally outside intelligence office

Alex Silas, a regional executive vice-president for the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), is led toward an Ottawa police vehicle by officers on Feb. 7, 2024. (Avanthika Anand/CBC - image credit)
Alex Silas, a regional executive vice-president for the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), is led toward an Ottawa police vehicle by officers on Feb. 7, 2024. (Avanthika Anand/CBC - image credit)

A Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) executive was arrested in Ottawa on Wednesday morning during a rally for civilian staff at military bases who are on strike.

Media had been invited to a strike update outside the Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces Joint Intelligence Operations Centre on Star Top Road where over 100 people were gathered. Many waved yellow and red PSAC banners while others chanted "solidarity" into megaphones.

But before the union leaders could speak, Alex Silas, PSAC's regional executive vice-president, was arrested and escorted by police officers to an Ottawa Police Service (OPS) vehicle.

In a video taken by CBC News, a police officer can be seen telling Silas that he was being arrested under Ontario's Highway Traffic Act for impeding traffic. Silas was then placed in the back of the police car.

The crowd of striking workers then gathered around the police vehicle, chanting "free Alex!"

In an email, OPS told CBC one person was arrested at a demonstration in the area and their investigation continues.

Supporters and members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada rally outside a military office in Ottawa on Feb. 7, 2024.
Supporters and members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada rally outside a military office in Ottawa on Feb. 7, 2024.

PSAC supporters and members rally Wednesday morning outside the military intelligence office on Star Top Road. (Avanthika Anand/CBC)

Nearly 500 civilian employees at military bases in Ontario and Quebec have been striking since Jan. 15.

The strike affects workers at the Petawawa, Kingston, Valcartier, Montreal St-Jean, and Bagotville bases, along with other employees whose jobs are in Ottawa. The workers deliver programs through Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS).

The union has said it wants an "equitable national pay scale."

Ottawa police and city traffic officials closed parts of Cyrville and Star Top roads at times Wednesday morning as the event took place.