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Union denounces charges after exec's arrest at rally

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

A union executive with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) is facing several charges after being arrested Wednesday morning during a rally for civilian staff at military bases who are on strike.

Alex Silas, 34, is charged with mischief, intimidation by blocking or obstructing a roadway, causing a disturbance by impeding, and counselling an uncommitted indictable offence.

On Wednesday, over 100 people gathered outside the Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces Joint Intelligence Operations Centre on Star Top Road for a rally.

Silas, PSAC's regional executive vice-president, was seen being 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.

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

PSAC denounces charges

In a statement, PSAC denounced the arrest, saying the charges "represent a blatant attempt to stifle the rights of workers to take legal strike action."

"These heavy-handed, excessive and unnecessary police tactics are an attack on workers meant to silence their voices and weaken their bargaining power," PSAC national president Chris Aylward said.

The union said it would "vehemently oppose" the allegations in court.

Ottawa police said Silas has since been released and is scheduled to appear in court at a later date.