As Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says, Brian Deeds is a hard man to get.
So when US President Joe Biden’s senior economic adviser asked her to call her about the ongoing border closures on Feb. 10, Freeland said she knew the risks were high.
“I felt it was a dangerous moment for Canada,” the deputy prime minister testified Thursday before the Emergency Act inquiry.
“That conversation was very important to me, and that was the moment I realized that as a country we had to find a way to end this somehow,” she said.
Freeland appeared before the Public Order Emergency Committee to review the government’s decision to invoke the Emergency Act on Feb. 14 to clear protests of anti-public health measures in Ottawa and prevent border closures. I am appearing at
At various points in early 2022, protesters blocked border crossings on the Pacific Highway in Windsor, Ontario, the small town of Coutts in Emerson, Alberta, and Surrey, British Columbia.
Freeland said he learned after calling Deeds, the U.S. director of the National Economic Council, that the lockdown had caused a “flash of amber light” in the U.S. about supply chain vulnerabilities with Canada. rice field.
She said she worried the blockade would favor Democrats and Republicans who support protectionist trade policies.
“Not only did it take immediate damage, it didn’t do immediate harm. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, this plant is going to lose four days of operations,'” Freeland said Thursday.
“If we were in the process as a country, there was a risk that it could cause long-term and irreparable damage to our trade relationship with the United States.”
The government cited risks to Canada’s economic security when it invoked the state of emergency law last winter.
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Transport Canada estimates that the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge, a key corridor, has halted an estimated $2.3 billion in trade.
The commission has already heard that during the motorcade protests, the federal government was trying to persuade the U.S. to scrap plans to exclude electric vehicles assembled in Canada from the proposed consumer tax credit. . US soil.
Freeland called this “life or death” for the Canadian auto industry.
Freeland Faces Account Freezing Questions
As finance minister, Freeland will also likely answer questions about the economic impact of the protests and the decision to give authorities emergency powers to freeze the finances of those involved in the protests.
Data submitted to the investigation last week suggested that about 280 bank accounts with about $8 million in assets were frozen due to emergency measures.
Treasury Assistant Deputy Minister Isabel Jacques told the inquiry that the purpose of the asset freeze is to discourage people from participating in illegal protests and encourage others to return home.
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However, Brendan Miller, an attorney for some of the protest organizers, said under cross-examination that the order to freeze the accounts was an act of excess and that the suspension of fundraising on the crowdfunding platform was a Canadian representation. claimed to have violated his right to freedom.
Several members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s staff, including Katie Telford, Trudeau’s chief of staff, are also due to testify on Thursday. Telford will be joined by Chief of Staff Brian Crowe and Trudeau’s Policy Director John Brodhead.
The three officials get a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the prime minister’s office and could face questions about the deliberations leading up to the activation of the emergency law.