Three top staff members of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) testified Thursday before the Public Order Emergency Committee investigating the federal government’s use of the emergency law.
Chief of Staff Katie Telford, Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Crowe, and Policy Director John Brodhead were present as a panel to testify about their role during the “Freedom Convoy” protests, and senior officials Addressing the occupation of Ottawa and the border blockade they testified about the role they played as they considered the options they had to make.
According to an agency report submitted to the commission by the PMO, the first call PMO and ministerial staff had to talk about the “freedom convoy” was on January 20, a week before the convoy was scheduled to enter the capital. Shortly after they first started hearing about what was going to happen and what the intentions of some of the protesters were, Trudeau began receiving daily updates on the situation.
The PMO report also said the Trudeau office “has begun making safety and travel arrangements for its staff, the prime minister and ministers,” and that by Jan. 27, PMO staff will be forced to work from home for safety reasons. He pointed out that he was advised to do so. Indicates “never done before”.
From there, Trudeau staff showed growing concern as protesters arrived and quickly dug in. A series of briefings and coordination efforts followed regarding response efforts and the tools that might be used.
From how Prime Minister Trudeau “yes” to the emergency law, to conversations involving then-Conservative Party leader Candice Bergen about protesters’ involvement, here are the key takeaways from staff testimony: increase.
“Time Was Up”
After a series of events that occurred on February 14, when the government invoked the state of emergency law, Trudeau and his meeting with the Prime Minister finally issued what came to be known as the “decision letter” from the Privy Council Secretary. Until received, Clow was asked why there was no parliamentary debate to discuss a possible subpoena.
He first noted that there had been an urgent debate about the motorcade and demonstrations a week before the call, and that the law itself contained a parliamentary process at the time of the call, which they obeyed and felt was sufficient. replied by pointing out
“But the decision to go into effect on February 4 was taken after a series of discussions and input … the view was that time was up and it needed to be enacted immediately,” he said.
Under cross-examination by Saskatchewan government attorney Michael Morris, a panel of PMO staff will determine when the Privy Council actually made its decision to invoke the law, given its timeframe. More questions were asked about timelines. The office’s decision notice came and his evening press conference.
PMO staff had prepared a speech earlier in the day on plans to activate the law, but a final decision had not been made until late, requiring the decision to change plans and not to activate. In the case, we quickly pivoted the planned announcement.
“During the pandemic, we were very agile. We were making recommendations about things that we didn’t know what the content would be in a few hours. That’s what we need to do in times of crisis,” Telford said. Told. .
Dispute Proposal Senate Affected Revocation
Prime Minister Trudeau announced the withdrawal of the emergency law on February 23, two days after the House of Commons voted in favor of the authority and before the Senate voted. When asked by the Committee Council to suggest that the timing of the retraction was related to the Senate’s lack of confidence in approving the emergency declaration, Clow and Telford said:
Crow: “Quite the opposite, actually. And yes, I am aware of the proposal. We wanted to move as quickly as possible, and that too, but as it was reported to us, the Senate decided to move to , the convocation was delayed, and I would say there is no reason to believe the Senate did not support it.”
Telford: “I should add that it was very important for the Prime Minister to stay true to what he originally set out to do when he invoked the law. That was all the motivation behind the withdrawal. In the same way, safety and security were at the center of all the meetings he was having all along, while political and parliamentary issues were on a completely different trajectory than decision-making.”
Bergen mentions ‘bad precedent’ for engagement
Another noteworthy piece of information from the PMO staff’s participation in the committee was that, according to them, the then-new-formed interim Conservative leader, Candice Bergen, “had no idea who the federal government was involved with and set up.” We acknowledge that we have serious concerns about our ability to do so.” Bad precedent. ”
This excerpt was included in a summary provided by the Commission of previous interviews conducted by the PMO witness before the Commission.
Here is the full text of that section: “Mr Crowe explained that engagement with those involved in the occupation has been considered many times as a possible option for resolving the occupation. Later, Mr Crow recalls Mr Telford asking if interim opposition leader Candice Bergen could help. Bergen’s concern during the call is about who the important federal government can get involved with and set a bad precedent for.”
During her testimony on Thursday, about the now much-discussed deliberation whether political representatives could or should have engaged with the protesters to cede the demands of the conference. Here are the details from Telford as asked:
“When it became a profession, there were a lot of people trying to suggest anything they could do to find ways to help … I had suggestions from many others as well. We were putting names together, there was a suggested name, and some of the MPs from other parties came forward wondering if they could help. There were a lot of people trying to figure out how to judge, and no one could get past that initial thought …no one knew who to talk to and there was no clear leadership on the other side and they It wasn’t even clearly understood what the was talking about.”
Later, after noting that there was a certain level of police involvement with the demonstrators, she said: A countermeasure rooted in science…and I think at the time a lot of people weren’t sure what this really was. ”