Highlights and Lowpoints of the Freedom Convoy Public Inquiry
Mr. Prime Minister, when did you and your government start to become so afraid of your own citizens?
THUNDER BAY, November 29, 2022 (LSNews) So the Public Order Emergency Commission Inquiry into the Canadian government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to remove peaceful protesters of the Freedom Convoy from downtown core of the Canada’s capital city, Ottawa wrapped up on Friday, November 25th after six weeks of testimony. These are some of the high and low points I observed by reviewing key aspects of the testimonies of the Liberals most senior Cabinet members, the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, Attorney General David Lametti, and the Prime Minister himself, Justin Trudeau and the nation’s top cop RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki.
The Inquiry into the Trudeau government's decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to remove the peaceful protesters of the Freedom Convoy from downtown Ottawa, began what was hoped would be an earnest investigation into government’s actions. The Convoy, comprised of thousands of ordinary Canadians in an assortment of transport trailers, cars, vans and pickup trucks, travelled to Ottawa, from all parts of the country, in January of 2022, to protest unreasonable and unconstiutional vaccine mandates the Trudeau government had imposed on Canadians, in response to the COVID pandemic.
The Inquiry Commissioner Justice Paul Rouleau, at the outset of the proceedings, came across as fair-minded and appeared openly interested in finding the truth. He began the proceedings by saying that, despite terms the government had given him, regarding what the Inquiry should investigate, which didn’t really include whether it was justified in invoking the Act, it was his intent to do just that. During the testimony of the Convoy witnesses, Commission lawyers seemed genuinely interested in hearing from them. Justice Rouleau even asked many of them at the end of their testimonies if there was anything they wanted to add to the record.
Convoy organizer Tara Lich testifies
All of that took an abrupt and perhaps not an unsurprising turn once the government's Cabinet Ministers began testifying to pave the way for the star witness, the Prime Minister himself. Rouleau suddenly seemed to lose his patience, particularly with the Convoy lawyer, Brendan Miller. Miller, along with other attorneys representing various groups that were advocating for the Convoy, were becoming frustrated with the heavy redaction of documents the government was providing throughout the proceedings. Often they would receive such documents just hours before they were due to cross examine witnesses, leaving them very little preparation time. As well, written requests to the Commissioner to unredact documents, or to call additional witnesses, were not being addressed in a timely manner, given the time restraints of the Inquiry.
When Miller challenged the Commissioner on the untenable nature of these processes, Rouleau took the unprecedented action of having Miller ejected from the Inquiry, and escorted out of the building by security guards.
Cabinet Members Testimonies
The Liberal Cabinet Ministers who testified at the Inquiry displayed a surreal combination of contempt, hubris and smug arrogance. Their testimonies were often contradictory and their answers long-winded, peppered with the usual approved Liberal talking points full of sanctimonious platitudes. They often refused to answer questions, citing Cabinet confidentiality, maintaining it was out of their scope of responsibility or apparently because they couldn’t clearly remember something, ‘because so much was going on and there were so many meetings’. They padded their answers with useless talking points, thereby shortening the amount of time lawyers, advocating for the Convoy, had left to ask them relevant questions. Yet, these behaviours didn’t seem to be of particular concern to Commissioner Rouleau.
As a matter of fact it was quite the opposite. During the cross-examination of Minister Freeland by Convoy council Brendon Miller, he questioned her about the purpose of the vaccine mandate. In her response, she freely admitted that it was a move meant to compel (note, not encourage) Canadians to get vaccinated. He then moved on to ask her if she was aware that Canada had established a Vaccine Compensation Fund in December of 2020, to which she indicated that she was. His point was clear. How was it that a government that was forcing vaccines on its population, at the same time, had established a means to compensate people who might have had suffered a vaccine injury by complying with that mandate. How could it possibly force a vaccine on people that even the government, by its own actions, knew wasn’t completely safe?
Freeland, rather than trying connect those dots, instead felt it necessary to go on, at length, about how she, herself, had been vaccinated four times and she had her kids vaccinated. She further explained that this was her attempt to demonstrate her confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines her government was forcing on the population. A frustrated Miller cut her short, noting his time to question her was short. For that he was admonished by the Commissioner and given a stern warning about his behavior. These types of actions, on the part of Commissioner Rouleau, perhaps highlight why, when a government whose actions are being formally investigated in an Inquiry, that same government shouldn’t be the one who appoints the person who is going to head up the said Inquiry.
There was also another point in Freeland’s cross by Miller, where she should have been pressed for further clarification on a point, but wasn’t. Miller had the Commission clerk produce a note in Freeland’s handwriting, wherein she had jotted down, “Dave: We need a court order to act on these… We need a playbook, you need to designate this group as a terrorist group and seize their assets and impound them.” The name written at the top is Dave, so Miller asked her if this could be Dave Vigneault, the Director of CSIS.
Freeland was adamant that she never met with Vigneault. However, she never clarified the circumstances under which she had written that note, maintaining she would have to see her entire notes to refresh her memory. Yet, if look at the third note (see above) under the heading ‘The Privy Council’, is the name Darryl/BMO, and the written script ‘already the impact is meaningul in terms of ecomony,’ From this note it would appear that Freeland was discussing financial measures to use against the Convoy with Canadians banks, as the Darryl mentioned here is likely Daryll White, CEO of the Bank of Montreal, and the mysterious Dave, would be David McKay, CEO of the Royal Bank. It is very difficult to swallow the idea the Freeland didn’t know, or remember, who ‘Dave’ was when it is clear these notes are from discussions she had with CEOs of all the Canadian banks to discuss how best to go about shutting down the bank accounts of Convoy organizers. She was essentially feigning a memory lapse, and she should have been called out for that, and pressed to identify Dave was if it wasn’t, as she maintained, the Director of CSIS. Her meetings with bank CEOs regarding freezing bank accounts, by designating Convoy organizers and members as terrorists, which is what she ultimately did, is crucial evidence the Inquiry should hear.
The government’s Attorney General David Lametti, hence its most senior legal advisor, displayed a palpable level of arrogance throughout the entirety of his testimony. Instead of giving a fulsome legal explanation regarding the government’s decision to invoke the Act, Lametti repeatedly claimed attorney-client privilege and constantly skated around questions put to him.
His testimony came after a plethora of senior government bureaucrats took the witness stand, and twisted themselves into knots to justify the government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act. They maintained that while the Emergencies Act is dependent on how the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Act defines “threats to the security of Canada,” the government, meaning any number of senior government officials, can broaden that interpretation when declaring a national emergency. In other words they can change it on the fly to suit their purposes.
Janice Charette, Clerk of the Privy Council testifying
According to these bureaucrats, this re-imagined exegesis of the CSIS Act was based on a legal opinion, which had not yet been revealed to the Commission. That is because Lametti, as the Attorney-General, refused to confirm that such an opinion even existed and then went mum on the topic, again claiming attorney-client privilege. The fact that the client he is referencing is the Liberal Government of Canada who pride themselves on their ‘transparency’ and that Justin Trudeau, as Prime Minister, could easily have waived that privilege seems completely lost on Lametti in his hubris.
Rouleau himself was even a little perplexed by this and asked Lametti how he, as the Commissioner, can assess the government’s use of the Emergencies Act without access to the legal opinion they relied upon to invoke It. Lametti waxed eloquently explaining to the Commissioner that the government had done its best to provide all the information that they could and may go further in shedding more light on this in their final submission to the Inquiry. The Commissioner then asked “Do we just presume they (cabinet) were acting in good faith without knowing the basis or structure in which they made that decision?” Lametti’s reply was simply “I guess that’s fair.” The Commissioner, however, didn’t seem bothered enough by Lametti’s ‘just trust us’ response to compel that the client-attorney privilege be removed, so the so Inquiry lawyers could examine witnesses, including Lametti himself, to challenge such a crucial element of the government’s rationale for invoking the Act.
Another disturbing aspect of Lametti’s cavalier attitude came as comments between him and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino came to light at the Inquiry. The two of them seemed to be of the mind that calling out the military and deploying tanks against civilians, (remember Communist China did that during the Tiananmen Square student protests), might be a good idea. Lametti told Mendicino, “You need to get the
police to move. And the CAF (Canadian Armed Forces) if necessary. Too many people are being adversely impacted by what is an occupation.” Mendocino replied, “How many tanks are you asking for?” He added he would ask the Minister of Defence how many tanks were available.” When confronted with this exchange at the Inquiry both men maintained they were just joking. Seriously, joking about calling out the army to use its tanks on their own citizens, and to do what, one might ask? Does anyone think that’s funny? I would suggest they have a very twisted sense of humour.
What is also funny, however, is that in those hours when they were on the cusp of invoking the Act, no one in the entire Liberal braintrust–not the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Privy Council Office (PCO), senior government bureaucrats, Deputy Ministers, and Cabinet Ministers–seemed to think hearing the opinion of RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, who was representing all the police services involved in responding to the protest, was important.
Lucki maintained, in her testimony to the Inquiry, that she had advised the government of her assessment that the police had not exhausted all the legal tools available to bring the protests to an end. It would seem, however, this was only via an email sent to the Public Safety Minister’s chief of staff the evening before the government invoked the Act. It is not particularly clear if this information reached Mendicino; Lucki simply maintained she assumed it had, as communicating with the Minister’s chief of staff was akin to communicating with the Minister himself. Lucki also told the Commission that while she was present during the meeting when the Cabinet was debating the use of the Act on February 13th, she didn’t get a chance to speak.
What! Canada’s top cop is present during a key debate before the government takes such an unprecedented move as to drop a sledge hammer on the protesters in the form of the Emergencies Act, and no one asks for her opinion or input on the matter while she is sitting right there? Or perhaps they didn’t want to hear what she had to say, because Mendicino had gotten her email and it wasn’t an opinion the government wanted to hear.
Along this same vein, it also seems, according to the testimony of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that he was unaware that the Integrated Planning Cell (IPC), comprised of all police services then responding to the protest, had developed a detailed Integrated Mobilization Operational Plan and had a fleet of tow trucks ready to go on February 13th. That plan had been signed off by senior officers of the RCMP, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the OPS, and RCMP Commissioner Lucki was aware that the plan had been finalized. When shown the plan by the Attorney for the OPS Brenda Barrow, during his testimony, Trudeau maintained he knew nothing of it. When she referenced the minutes from an Integrated Response Group (IRG) meeting that Trudeau had attended and had, in fact, chaired, they confirmed that the IPC had finalized a detailed plan to clear protesters from downtown Ottawa, using the tools they already had available to them. The minutes also indicated that Commissioner Lucki would provide details of the plan at a later time.
Does anyone find it hard to believe that the Prime Minister or his Cabinet were completely unaware of this plan when, in fact, they were notified that such a plan had been completed at the February 12th meeting of the IRG. And why didn’t Lucki brief Cabinet on the details of that plan as it was noted she would, in the minutes of that same February 12th IRG. Commission council Gordon Cameron pressed her on this matter, putting to her, “Cabinet is on the verge of invoking the Act. You are the window on the law enforcement and you, as RCMP Commissioner, considered that plan to be workable, without the authorities of the Act, and that doesn’t get delivered to Cabinet?” Her weak response was that she had told the government a plan by police was in the works many times before, so it wasn’t a brand new concept.
So Trudeau and cabinet were made aware at the February 12th IRG that the police had a plan, but they didn't bother to follow up getting the details of that plan. Lucki had committed to providing details of the plan, but she didn’t, nor did anyone ask her to do so during the February 13th meeting of Cabinet where the use of the Emergencies Act was being debated. Does, Trudeau not realize, as he testifies to this, how ridiculously inept and incompetent it makes them look. But, maybe the better description is how reckless and myopic they look, viewing the Emergencies Act as the only option, when they knew others were available, and willfully ignored them.
They already knew the Emergencies Act wasn’t the only option. Because as they were turning themselves inside out trying figure out how they could supercede the law to invoke the Act, without looking like the did so, local police authorities and the RCMP, had already successfully and peacefully resolved the Convoy border blockades that were causing the government headaches. The blockades at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario; Coutts, Alberta; and Emerson, Manitoba were all resolved before the federal Act was invoked, clearly demonstrating that the police didn’t need the powers of the Act to do their jobs.
Trudeau tried to justify invoking the Act anyhow, even when the government knew these border issues had been already resolved, because, in addition to the Ottawa protest, he claimed there were concerns that the Convoy might proceed with further border blockades at other border crossings. This is nothing but smoke and mirrors. If mere anticipation of problems is a reason to invoke the Act, the Act could be invoked in perpetuity, which might just suit Trudeau anyway.
Trudeau also skirted around his ‘consultation’ with the provincial premiers regarding the invocation of the Emergencies Act, which is something that the federal government is required to do, by law, before it makes such an unprecedented decision. While this was not covered in his testimony, it should be noted that seven of the ten provinces did not support the invocation of the Act. As far as Saskatchewan and Alberta were concerned there was no consultation at all. The lawyer for the Saskatchewan government told the Inquiry that the call they got on February 14th was not about consulting, but instead telling the province the federal government had already made its decision. The only provinces that supported the use of the Act were Ontario, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Now one would think if the federal government was going to use something as unprecedented as the Emergencies Act, on a national basis, which is what it did as the entire country was under Marshall Law for all intents and purposes, that it should at least have to have buy in from a majority of the provincial premiers.
One final highlight of Trudeau’s time in the witness stand was that of his cross examination by the Convoy’s alternate legal council Eva Chipiuk, where he dodged questions by feigning ignorance, obfiscating or over-explaining processes of the government. Now back when he was being cross-examined by the lawyer for the OPS he was asked about a plan the IPC had developed to resolve the protest. At that time Trudeau maintained he wasn’t aware of any such plan, even though the minutes from IRG meeting he had attended indicated such a plan been finalized.
When asked by Chipiuk about that same plan, he suddenly did know about it, but maintained the plan wasn’t complete or detailed enough to be of use. Unfortunately the Inquiry lawyers and witnesses will never know if this was the case, because as what had also be revealed during the Inquiry was that the all of the pages of that plan, outside of the cover page and table of contents, had been redacted in its entirety. Chipiuk also ask Trudeau if he thought calling the unvaccinated names like misogynists and races was a way of uniting the country. In true Trudeau fashion he denied he did that and tried to claim what he was really talking about was how some of the unvaccinated deliberately spread misinformation. But it’s hard to ignore the truth when it’s out in cyberspace for all to see.
The final question Chipiuk put to him, may well be the best question of the entire Inquiry. Mr. Prime Minister, when did you and your government start to become so afraid of your own citizens? It was clear that Trudeau was somewhat taken aback by this, but he did manage to choke out an answer… ‘I am not… and we are not.’
If it wasn’t fear, it was certainly anger that Trudeau felt toward the Convoy for challenging his dictates and mandates. What really bothered Trudeau, was not so much the Convoy in of itself, it was rather the groundswell of support, from across the country that he saw growing each and every day as the Convoy got closer to Ottawa. It was also getting international attention, which the government viewed as an embarrassment. Canadian’s frustration with Trudeau and his government’s heavyhanded and almost dictatorial COVID mandates was palpable. It was a massive movement of ordinary people, saying the government had gone too far. He and his ego could not bear that, so to punish and deride those who had started it all, was the game plan he employed, driven as much by fear, as by anger. This video, pretty much captures, what he viewed a threat to his authority.
It should be noted that while I was working on this piece, the citizens of China made internationational headlines as they took to the streets enmasse protesting their Communist government’s heavy handed COVID lockdowns, dictates and mandates.
Does the Trudeau government see these protesters as terrorists, racists and extremists, for challenging their government’s infringements on their freedoms? (Limited as they already are under the Communist Party of China.) Will Trudeau applaud President Xi, when he cracks down on his citizens to put an end to the protests or condemn him?
#LSN_Health #LSN_PublicSafety #LSN_TBay
Below Please Rate and Share this story
To help us learn what is important to you
|I am a retired journalist who served with the Canadian Armed Forces and for the last 13 years of my working career was a Senior Emergency Planning Analyst with the RCMP. I am a wife, mother and dog, cat and intrepid explorer
An Intrepid warrior exploring issues in today's strange new world.
The views expressed in this opinion article or photos are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Lake Superior News / Lake Superior Media.