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Emergencies Act inquiry: What Mendicino said on the stand

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Ottawa –

Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino appeared before the Public Order Emergency Committee on Tuesday to testify about the federal government’s involvement in the “Freedom Convoy” protests and the activation of the emergency law.

During his testimony—for a short time, Fleet Lawyer’s Acerbic Exchange and Expulsion— Mendicino shed light on the extent of security concerns ministers and members of parliament had in the lead-up to and during the convoy’s arrival in Ottawa.

He also provided further perspective on the federal and state tensions that have unfolded as the protests progressed, spoke on considerations of protester engagement involving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and discussed the “hardened” armament in Coutts. Arta explained the concerns raised regarding the protesters who Lockdown as a “threshold moment” for him.

To summarize some notable points from Mendicino’s testimony:

Enhanced security posture ahead of the convoy

The first area of ​​focus in Mendicino’s testimony was the pre-fleet security concerns that ministers and MPs had.

A memo from the January 26 Ministerial Briefing on “Truck Drivers and Threats to Security” was presented to the Commission, two days before the first truck entered Ottawa.

In it, the briefing showed how various police units and first response tactical units were involved in the planning, and how security officials monitored incoming convoys from different directions. I mentioned

But the documents also suggest that some protesters may have attempted to block the return of the House of Commons on 31 January, congregating at both the deserted Prime Minister’s Office at 24 Sussex and the homes and offices of local MPs. pointed out some concerns.

“When it comes to portraying the threat, there is a growing number of online narratives supporting Convoy, both in ideologically motivated networks and in the general public discourse,” reads part of the document. A total of 15 files were opened in 16 hours a day.”

“Members of parliament are concerned for their personal safety after demonstrators are reported to be in their homes,” the briefing note said.what is this Reported by CTVNews.ca After the Sergeant-General of the House, the highest official who oversees security in the House of Commons, warned lawmakers of the potential risks associated with incoming trucker protests.

The documents also show that Transport Minister Omar Al-Ghabra (leader of the vaccine order for cross-border truck drivers that sparked the whole protest) has been talking about his itinerary and needs to be notified these days. It suggests that it appears to have been given protective details to the RCMP if there was an event outside the home.

Meanwhile, as of Jan. 11, security risks have been identified, so additional security precautions are being paid to Mendicino and a handful of other ministers, including Dr. Teresa Tam of the Public Health Agency of Canada. Looked.

Asked about this and his perception of threats against politicians, Mendicino told the commission that the RCMP had explained to him that “the security regime would need to change significantly” regarding the ministers named in the document. Told. The Minister of Public Security said this was due to “increasing levels of postings that are violent in nature and blatant criminal threats being made to the life and safety and security of identifiable public figures”. .

In addition, Mendicino confirmed that the protests on Wellington Street in front of the Houses of Parliament “enhanced security not only for ministers, but also for members of parliament and staff who worked inside the Houses”.

Another text conversation presented to the committee on Tuesday between his chief of staff, Mike Jones, and Trudeau’s deputy chief of staff, Brian Crowe, said by Feb. Police were investigating a suspicious fire outside Mississauga East Cookville, Ontario after the protest was canceled and the protest was closed. MP Peter Fonseca’s office.

A water-damaged note was found that said the fire was related to Fonseca’s support for emergency laws, and that the fire started after people were protesting outside his office, according to Jones’ message. .

Text shows Mendicino’s ‘strengthening’ in Wellington

Mendicino was then asked about previous text conversations between Jones and Crowe, and by February 6, Mendicino said that the Ottawa police had lost jurisdiction and that Wellington was “absolutely out of control” as he saw it. Showed that he was “furious” about the stuff.

Jones went on to tell Crow that the minister was concerned about the prime minister’s safety. https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/pm-trudeau-in-isolation-after-covid-19-exposure-1.5756676

He went on to suggest that the federal government may need to consider other actions if the OPP does not plan to “start taking down” within the next 24 hours. It was only days later that Mendicino testified that consideration of the emergency law had become more serious.

Asked about this, Mendicino replied:

“The concern I was expressing was that by that first weekend it was my opinion that it would be virtually impossible to enforce the law on Wellington Street… Mike Jones There was a chain of events leading up to the text I sent to Brian Crowe, which raised my concerns.”

Later in his testimony, Mendicino called the Ottawa scene “absolute utter mayhem,” with bouncy castles and hot tubs serving as anchor points for protests, residents reaching boiling points and lunching against protests. .

“Not my boss”

Tuesday’s testimony from Mendicino also provided another example of how frayed relations have been between federal and state governments during the protests.

A text message thread of Mendicino’s chief of staff and other political staff talking about bringing Ontario to the table said one meeting the minister had with Ontario’s then attorney general, Sylvia Jones. , indicated that the state official ended by stating: Take an edict from you, you are not my boss. “

Asked if it matched his recollections of conversations with Jones, Mendicino said: positive relationship. “

He broadly said the calls were to respond to requests for help from Ottawa police and to ensure that all existing authorities were being used to restore public order.

“It was an important engagement. It was obviously a very stressful time. We were having dialogue, but it was important to keep those lines of communication open.”


Another area Mendicino’s testimony explored further was the view of RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, who expressed in writing that not all police tools were used prior to the activation.

Asked if he was aware of Lucky’s views before the February 13 cabinet meeting, Mendicino testified that he could not remember when he saw it. , he and the commissioner spoke that day.

“The Commissioner never expressed such an opinion directly to me…and although she never mentioned the last point you raised in your email, she called me and …expressing her very serious concerns about the situation in Coutts,” said Mendicino.

“She stressed to me that the situation in Coutts, Alberta involved a reinforced cell of individuals thoroughly armed with deadly firearms.

“For me, this represented the most serious and urgent moment of the lockdown so far, so it said a lot about the state of mind of the commissioner…and it certainly did, I think, the commissioner at the time. In a broader sense, the advice that I was getting from was prevailing,” he said.

Mendicino went on to describe it as a “threshold moment” in deciding to invoke the Emergency Act.

Early the next morning, the Alberta RCMP moved to arrest and seize multiple weapons and bulletproof vests before the government invoked the law. Subsequently, charges were filed against numerous protesters, including conspiracy to murder.

Trudeau involved in engagement negotiations

Another notable area I explored with Mendicino on Tuesday was how far the conversation has progressed about engaging with protesters. Throughout the demonstration, there were calls for Trudeau and others to meet with the participants in the convoy, and as the Commission heard earlier during the OPP testimony, several considerations were made.

On behalf of OPP Supt. Marcel Bourdain previously said he received an email from Rob Stewart, Canada’s Deputy Minister of Public Safety, indicating that federal politicians are considering meeting with motorcade organizers and need advice. I testified. This was something that ultimately never came to pass.

On Tuesday, Mendicino detailed an “involvement proposal” centered around offering convoy organizers a meeting in exchange for truck drivers leaving the downtown core to accuse them of criminal activity. did.

He told the commission that he had discussed with officials and the prime minister about identifying potential interlocutors who could try to defuse the situation on behalf of the federal government, but there was no question as to who was actually in charge. Uncertainty and who is in this position.

He was then sent a text message to Prime Minister Trudeau’s Chief of Staff Katie Telford, in which he wrote that he had received a “last minute thin piece of paper” from his deputy minister on engagement strategy. .

Asked to explain what he was stating in the sentence, Mendicino said: Again, at this particular moment, everyone is working very hard and for long hours trying to quickly accomplish the tasks they have accomplished or complete the tasks assigned to them… Engagement Suggestions But also mitigate and reflect on some of the very real and practical considerations that have to be woven into the strategy to make sure we stay together. ”

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