The Public Safety Emergency Committee is a bit like a group puzzle meeting. Some witnesses show up with a handful of pieces, while others show up with a single piece that leaves a hole in the picture. Some are happy to participate, while others need pliers to pull contributions out of their pockets.
But the net effect of this painstaking restructuring of the government’s use of the Emergency Act is that it can give so much importance to details, if only because they lack the big picture.
One of the murky facts up to this point has to do with what exactly the police told the federal government about their attempt to quell the protests, and whether something special like the act was necessary. doing. Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino appeared before the commission on Tuesday and gave the every impression of being an enthusiastic and conscientious contributor.
In the spring, Mendicino told a parliamentary committee, referring to the opinion of the police, “the advice we received was to invoke the emergency law.” Several police representatives later said they were not asking for such a thing. Mr. Mendicino’s Deputy Minister Rob Stewart appeared before the same committee to clean up Corridor 3, saying his minister was “misunderstood” and police only demanded more tools. said.
Most recently, the day before the government invoked the emergency law on February 14, RCMP commissioner Brenda Lackey emailed Mr. Mendicino’s chief of staff, saying police had “still exhausted all available means.” The document revealed that he believed he did not.
So, by the time Mr. Mendicino arrived to investigate, what exactly the police told him and what he chose to listen to, if detailed but lacking, was important. , eventually when a commission attorney asked Mr. Mendicino about the cautionary note from Commissioner Lucky, he essentially said it was irrelevant.
Rather, he said, it was a conversation between the two earlier in the day that convinced him that emergency legislation was needed. She confided her concerns about the potential for violence at the border crossing blockade in the United States, and because an undercover RCMP agent was in danger, she gave him permission to relay information only to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office. gave. Do not let it leak and cause further irritation.
“For me, this was the most serious and pressing moment of the lockdown so far,” Mendicino said. “It also said a lot about the commissioner’s state of mind.”
The questioning of each witness in the investigation proceeded in much the same way, and Mr. Mendicino was no exception. First, they introduce themselves and describe their normal day and special weeks of work in protest. After that, the commission lawyers tend to give each witness a chronological account of the events. There’s obvious logic to it, but it also has the effect of fast-forwarding and recreating the frustration, alarm, and tension that built up as we watched the events of last winter unfold.
In Mendicino’s testimony, it wasn’t until he described the Coutts blockade as “a reinforced cell of individuals, thoroughly armed with lethal firearms and willing to stand up for the cause,” that Neji was so close. It was clear that it had been turned tight.
His explanation to the Commission as to why he believed the act was necessary was not based on narrow technical grounds, but rather on a vicious panorama of confusion. He argued that disgusted Ottawa residents would take matters into their own hands, the fact that the police simply could not gain control, the growing economic carnage, and that things would only get worse. I was concerned that the possibilities seemed smoldering.
“My concern as Minister of Public Security is that if we do not provide the police with the additional tools and authorities they need to specifically address the gaps they have consistently described to us, more violence will result. connect,” he said.
But the day after his conversation with Secretary Lucky, with the Ambassador Bridge unblocked and emergency legislation imminent, Mendicino appeared calm. The investigation saw text messages between Mr. Mendicino and his chief of staff, who suggested that Mr. Mendicino should go to the bridge to thank the police. Told. “Otherwise it’s just a tweet.”
On cross-examination, an Ontario Police attorney was too happy to explain what happened next. He explained earnestly that it was meant to soothe him.
“What I understand is that people are anxious and concerned and want to be sure that we are restoring public safety,” he said. Ultimately, I decided not to do sober reflection.”
At certain moments, this commission turns into a “Take Your Public To Work Day” for making political sausages.