Canada: government & governance – Freedom Convoy

Written by  //  February 17, 2023  //  Canada, Government & Governance  //  Comments Off on Canada: government & governance – Freedom Convoy

Emergencies Act

Paul Wells: The frying pan and the fire
Rouleau clears the Trudeau government.
The Prime Minister’s Office could not have received a better report on their handling of the Freedom Convoy if they had written it.
In fact anything they wrote would certainly have been of less use to them than the five-volume report of Justice Paul Rouleau’s Public Order Emergency Commission,  because the PMO version would have been characterized by that shop’s characteristic addiction to self-congratulation and caricaturing of opponents, whereas Rouleau’s report gives everyone on every side of last year’s mess ample benefit of the doubt. He doles out criticism to several players, but the thing he’s written is so gentle and low-key it seems hard to square with the circus of polarization and demonization he’s been asked to assess.
Here’s the culmination of his analysis, what journalists call the “nut graf.” From the report:
[T]he threshold for invocation [of emergency powers in general] is the point at which order breaks down and freedom cannot be secured or is seriously threatened. In my view, that threshold was reached here…. [emphasis added]
“I have concluded that Cabinet was reasonably concerned that the situation it was facing was worsening and at risk of becoming dangerous and unmanageable. There was credible and compelling evidence supporting both a subjective and objective reasonable belief in the existence of a public order emergency. The decision to invoke the Act was appropriate.”
And from his news conference, an admission that he does not believe his conclusion to be open-and-shut:
“I do not come to this conclusion easily, as I do not consider the factual basis for it to be overwhelming. Reasonable and informed people could reach a different conclusion than the one I have arrived at.”
My hunch today is that it won’t be quite the public-opinion toss-up I anticipated. Most Canadians were already willing to believe the Emergencies Act invocation was reasonable, and in fact, opinion has been trending in that direction over time. [See December 4 Nanos story below] A figure like Rouleau enhances the credibility of that conclusion, because a lot of people with complex or unsettled thoughts will simply trust the word of a judge. Public opinion in Canada is always plural and contradictory in places, but as a general matter of partisan politics, I think the Rouleau report settles the matter in the Liberals’ favour.
Trudeau government justified in using unprecedented powers of Emergencies Act: ruling
The use of Emergencies Act could have been avoided if not for failures of policing and federalism, Commission report declares
Christopher Nardi, Ryan Tumilty
(National Post) Rouleau, who led the Emergencies Act inquiry, delivered a 2,000 page volume to Parliament on Friday. The inquiry was a requirement of the government’s invocation of the act and among many things was meant to rule on whether the Liberals were right to invoke it to bring the convoy protests to an end.

10 February
Russia used state-funded propaganda outlet to whip up support for the ‘Freedom Convoy’ and undermine the Trudeau government
(National Observer) Russian state-funded propaganda outlet RT (formerly Russia Today), which has been called an “information weapon” by its own editor-in-chief, produced a higher volume of convoy-related coverage than any other international media outlet. Fox News stepped up to produce the second-highest amount of coverage just as Russian propaganda decreased.
The RT site describes the outlet as a global TV news network providing news “overlooked by mainstream media,” current affairs and documentaries featuring “alternative” perspectives and acquainting international audiences with a Russian viewpoint on major global events. Despite RT’s description of its coverage, the “alternative” perspectives it offers are actually just news-like productions of Russia’s foreign policy goals and interests, according to the U.S. State Department.
As part of its coverage, RT sent correspondents to do on-the-ground reporting in Canada, which mostly consisted of interviews with convoy organizers and supporters.


4 December
Most Canadians back invocation of Emergencies Act during ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests: Nanos
(CTV) More than 1,000 Canadians were asked about their thoughts on the Emergencies Act in a survey conducted by Nanos Research in the days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the stand at the inquiry. Of the respondents, 48 per cent said they support the use of the Emergencies Act, while 18 per cent said they somewhat support the decision.

2 December
Emergencies Act hearings end with final words on transparency, accountability
After 300 hours of testimony, 9,000 exhibits and a few major revelations, the public portion of an investigation into the first-ever use of the Emergencies Act ended Friday with a deep dive into questions about government accountability and transparency.
A panel of experts offered insight into a key issue the Public Order Emergency Commission will have to decide: whether the federal government has been forthcoming enough about why cabinet felt legally justified to invoke what is supposed to be a measure of last resort.
Over seven weeks of testimony it came to light that the government’s interpretation of what constitutes a threat to Canada’s national security was not in line with the one laid out in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, which is cited in the Emergencies Act.
CSIS director David Vigneault told the commission the “Freedom Convoy” protests did not meet the threshold for a national security threat as defined in the CSIS Act, but he was assured that cabinet could interpret things differently in the context of declaring a public order emergency.

30 November
Andrew Caddell writes for The Hill Times: The Convoy Occupation hearings reveal the paucity of government leadershipWhat struck me about the testimony is how perception, not analysis, shaped the judgments of the senior members of cabinet and the public service- and concludes “According to the Public Safety deputy minister at the time, Rob Stewart, the government effectively acted on a whim: “The cabinet is making that decision and their interpretation of the law is what governs here.” But Stewart admitted, law enforcement, notably the RCMP, were “extremely reticent” to share specific intelligence about the convoy with people at the political level.
In other words, cabinet was flying blind. If anyone had good intelligence on the occupiers, it would have been the Mounties, because they have a key role in gathering criminal intelligence. But RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, compounded matters by being a non-presence in the discussions.
In his testimony the Prime Minister ripped the Ottawa Police plan he was presented with, even though he later admitted not to having read it.
The bottom line: no one comes out of this looking good. In February, I wrote the following: “The Ottawa occupation will have repercussions. The lessons learned will touch on the need for better intelligence, planning, and response.” Back then, I could never have imagined how much needed to be learned and how badly this crisis was managed. I don’t envy Commissioner Paul Rouleau’s job to make sense of this mess.”

26 November
Here’s what central players had to say as the Emergencies Act inquiry hearings wrapped
As the marathon hearings wrapped, Commissioner Paul Rouleau said he is satisfied that he has the information he needs and is now “well positioned” to be able to answer the key questions he went into this process with: Why did the federal government declare the emergency? How did it use its powers? And were those actions appropriate?
Following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s hours of testimony, the national inquiry examining the federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act concluded with what Rouleau described as “summary positions.”

25 November
Trudeau says he made the ‘right choice’ to use Emergencies Act to end convoy protests
(Globe & Mail) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the threats to Canada’s national security from last winter’s convoy protests were both economic and violent and before he invoked the Emergencies Act the premiers were unable to suggest any alternative to using the sweeping powers to end the protracted demonstrations.
On Friday, the Prime Minister was the final witness to testify at the inquiry studying the act’s use. Mr. Trudeau made the ultimate decision to invoke the never-before-used act on his own on Feb. 14, with the goal of ending protests that gridlocked the capital and jammed several border crossings across Canada.
“I am absolutely, absolutely serene and confident that I made the right choice,” Mr. Trudeau said.
He testified that before he made the decision there was consensus to invoke the act from senior cabinet ministers and top security and civil service advisers. He called a memo from the country’s top bureaucrat in favour of triggering the powers “essential” to his decision – even though that memo lacked a threat assessment. And he told the inquiry that despite the two most serious border blockades resolving, it was his understanding that overall the protests were escalating, not dissipating.

24 November
U.S. concern about convoy blockades meant a ‘dangerous moment for Canada,’ Freeland tells inquiry
(CBC) Freeland defended her government’s actions by arguing economic security is linked to national security.
“I really do believe our security as a country is built on our economic security,” she said.
“And if our economic security is threatened, all of our security is threatened. And I think that’s true for us as a country. And it’s true for individuals.”
Freeland said that after her call with Deese, director of the U.S. president’s National Economic Council, she knew the blockades had set an “amber light flashing” south of the border regarding supply chain vulnerabilities with Canada.
She said she worried the blockades would tip the balance in favour of Democrats and Republicans who support a protectionist trade stance.
“The danger was were we in the process, as a country, of doing long-term and possibly irreparable harm to our trading relationship with the United States.”

23 November
Speaking of bonkers
(Ottawa Playbook) The texts at the Rouleau Commission are getting juicy and three Cabmins take the hot seat today. The Freedom Convoy lawyer has created a “lose-lose situation” for the commission
The Rouleau Commission is chock full of tidbits of government life rarely revealed to the public. Cabinet confidence protects most conversations between ministers.
Tuesday’s document trove offered a bonanza from the behind-the-scenes texts and deliberations on ending the convoy protest:

Emergencies Act inquiry — what’s been said, what happens next
The act, used for the first time in its 34-year existence, gave authorities new powers to freeze the finances of those connected to blockades and other protests, to ban travel to protest zones, prohibit people from bringing minors to unlawful assemblies and to commandeer tow trucks, in order to remove the many transport trucks and other vehicles that had clogged the capital’s downtown streets since Jan. 29.
The Emergencies Act says it is only to be invoked when a national emergency “cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.” It also requires the government to hold an inquiry after its invocation.
Earlier this month, convoy organizers Chris Barber, Tamara Lich and Pat King testified, alongside other protest leaders and participants.
Other witnesses have included City of Ottawa officials and leaders of the three police forces involved — RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Commissioner Thomas Carrique and former Ottawa Police Service (OPS) chief Peter Sloly.
CSIS Director David Vigneault and other security and intelligence leaders gave evidence behind closed doors.
… Sloly, the Ottawa police chief who resigned the day after the act was invoked,.conceded that his police force’s planning — which was based on the assumption that the protesters would only stay in Ottawa for one week — was wrong. But he maintained that the intelligence he received did not suggest that protesters would dig in and remain.
In text messages released at the inquiry, Lucki told Carrique she was already losing confidence in Sloly and his police force, just one week into the protesters’ three-week occupation of downtown Ottawa.
Shortly after Sloly’s resignation, the RCMP and OPP took over the response to the convoy.
What happens next?
The commission will complete its “factual phase” of witness evidence this week; speaking to those involved in the decision to invoke the act.
Next week, it will hold a series of panel discussions — also to be heard publicly — featuring academics and other experts on a range of topics which are yet to be announced.
In the meantime, these related policy papers on the commission’s site offer some idea of what might be discussed, with topics ranging from the Emergencies Act itself to policing powers, social media and cryptocurrency, which was used to funnel donations to the protesters.
The commission’s final report, with findings and recommendations, must be tabled in the House of Commons and Senate by Feb. 20.

20 November
Trudeau went all in against the Freedom Convoy. This week, it’s on him to explain why.
It’s unclear what consequences Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will face if it’s determined that he didn’t meet the requirements for invoking the Emergencies Act..
(Politico) In a rare showing this week, Canada’s prime minister will publicly defend his decision to invoke never-before-used emergency powers to end a weekslong occupation of the nation’s capital last winter.
Justin Trudeau’s highly anticipated testimony will cap six weeks of hearings at a public inquiry that has witnessed extraordinary disclosures of the inner workings of police and government during the protest, which culminated in the Feb. 14 invocation of the Emergencies Act.
Police agencies have testified the emergency powers weren’t necessary to end the protest of pandemic public health measures. Senior government officials were shown to have harbored doubts. And perhaps most damaging to the government’s case was a revelation last week that Canada’s national intelligence agency did not find the protests posed a threat to Canada’s security.
In the final week of hearings, it will fall to Trudeau and several of his ministers and senior staff to prove their case: that they needed unprecedented measures to deal with an unprecedented situation.

With the final week of Emergencies Act inquiry hearings ahead, here’s what’s been said so far
On Friday, the commission confirmed that top Trudeau staffers had been added to the witness list to speak about their involvement in enacting historic powers to bring the “Freedom Convoy” protests to an end: Chief of Staff Katie Telford, Deputy Chief Of Staff Brian Clow, and Director of Policy John Brodhead.
Over the last five weeks, the commission examining federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act heard testimony from 62 witnesses, and pored over heaps of documentation.
In examining what led up to the invocation, the commission has learned about the impact on Ottawa residents and city council, the dysfunction in the Ottawa Police Service, and the chain of command and information sharing struggles the OPP and RCMP had.
The hearings also painted clear pictures of the frustration that came from Ontario government’s apparent lacking involvement, the convoy organizers’ power struggles and grassroots social media origins, and the priority put on the border blockades for economic and diplomatic reasons.
Over the last week, Commissioner Paul Rouleau heard about the incredible amount of federal bureaucracy involved, and differing interpretations of what the Emergencies Act as drafted decades ago prescribes when it comes to what constitutes a national public order emergency.
Everything you need to know about the Emergencies Act national inquiry (12 October/Updated 16 November)

Convoy blockades halted almost $4B in trade, inquiry hears
Federal officials worried the blockades would discourage investment

10 November
‘We received no help’: Texts shown at Emergencies Act inquiry show strain between Alberta, federal governments
Protesters against COVID-19 restrictions blocked the Coutts border crossing for more than 2 weeks

7 November
CSIS feared Emergencies Act would push some protesters to embrace violence, inquiry hears
Canada’s intelligence agency felt that invoking the Emergencies Act would “galvanize” members of the self-styled Freedom Convoy and radicalize some toward engaging in violence, according to a document presented before the Emergencies Act inquiry Monday.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) assessment report was made public as part of the Public Order Emergency Commission inquiry, which is reviewing the federal government’s decision to invoke the never-before-used Emergencies Act to clear the crowds and vehicles that blocked parts of Ottawa’s downtown for three weeks last winter to protest pandemic measures.
The report states that CSIS sat in on three cabinet meetings before the federal government chose to invoke the Emergencies Act.

1 November
Emergencies Act inquiry: How to balance protest rights with the rule of law?
By Geoff Callaghan, Assistant Professor, Political Science, University of Windsor
(The Conversation) A question operating in the background of the ongoing Emergencies Act inquiry is one of the most difficult for liberal democratic societies to resolve.
How long should society be expected to tolerate the disruption caused by a protest action — in this case the so-called Freedom Convoy’s occupation of Ottawa in February 2022 — before it’s permissible to intervene within the rule of law?
The relationship between protest and the rule of law is complex. While both play essential roles in the successful functioning of liberal democracies, those roles are distinct and often at loggerheads.

13-17 October
Ottawa, police were warned of plans to jam up the capital before convoy protesters arrived, email shows
Both the City of Ottawa and local police were warned that some protesters planned to stay in the city for weeks and gridlock streets, according to evidence presented Monday to the inquiry looking into the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act to disperse the protests last winter.
Both the city and police went ahead on an assumption that the protesters would pack up after the first weekend, the inquiry heard.
Battle lines drawn as the Emergencies Act inquiry gets underway in Ottawa
Eight months after anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate protesters gridlocked parts of downtown Ottawa, a public inquiry has opened public hearings as it probes the federal government’s unprecedented use of emergency powers to clear the capital.
The Public Order Emergency Commission’s official launch this morning kicks off what’s anticipated to be a politically tense six weeks as the inquiry hears from federal government representatives about why they felt they had to invoke the never-before-used Emergencies Act, and from those who argue it was a step too far.
Invoking the act gave authorities new powers allowing them to freeze the finances of those connected to blockades and protests, ban travel to protest zones, prohibit people from bringing minors to unlawful assemblies and commandeer tow trucks.
The start of the inquiry saw some of the key players lay out sometimes conflicting views of that decision and what happened in Ottawa last winter.

30 June
Protests in Ottawa are a recurring disaster, affecting neighbourhoods and residents
By Jack L. Rozdilsky, Associate Professor of Disaster and Emergency Management, York University, Canada
As Canada’s capital city approaches Canada Day, the July 1 national holiday marking the anniversary of Confederation in 1867, Ottawa is expecting tens of thousands to participate in the festivities. This year, however, Canada Day festivities are taking place in the context of potential trouble on the streets of Ottawa.
A self-proclaimed movement of fringe activists with a wide range of grievances is planning several events in Ottawa to coincide with Canada Day celebrations. There is a dark cloud of apprehension over the city, as it is still reeling from the impacts of the February occupation of Parliament Hill and surrounding downtown core.
28 June
‘Freedom’ protesters are angry, and returning to Ottawa for Canada Day. Here’s what they have to say
(Toronto Star) Armed with misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, pandemic conspiracy theories, and a deep conviction that the federal government has trampled fundamental individual liberties in this country, various groups are staging a return of this “freedom” movement to the capital for Canada Day.

29 April
‘Rolling Thunder’ has downtown Ottawa on edge
Barricades are back up in Canada’s capital as motorcyclists pull into a city still recovering from the “freedom convoy.”
(Politico) As hundreds of motorcyclists trickle into town for noisy, freedom-loving rallies, the people who lived through a debilitating three-week occupation of several blocks near Parliament Hill are bracing for the worst.
…this weekend’s rally is sympathetic to the trucker convoy that brought downtown Ottawa to a standstill, inspired a multimillion-dollar class action suit, and only ended after a final standoff involving hundreds of police officers from across Canada.
As a parliamentary committee probed the federal response to the wintertime trucker convoy this week, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said local residents can’t be blamed for getting their backs up about “Rolling Thunder.”
Traffic has not been allowed back on much of Wellington Street — the artery that runs in front of the Bank of Canada, Supreme Court, Parliament Hill and the Prime Minister’s Office. Some say it may never be again. Ahead of this weekend, officials have preemptively prohibited vehicles from most of the downtown core.

24 February
The convoy and the questions: How a protest paralyzed a capital (video)
The Fifth Estate shows how months of planning, some secretive but much of it in the open, drew convoys to Canada’s capital, leading to an unprecedented weeks-long occupation of part of Ottawa.

23 February
The Ottawa truck convoy has revealed the ugly side of freedom
Beverley McLachlin, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada (2000 to 2017)
(Globe & Mail) During the truck convoy protests, we have watched banners demanding “freedom” waving over big rigs parked in front of Parliament. But what does this vaunted “freedom” mean?
The answer is, everything and nothing.
Everything: the right not to wear masks in public places; the right not to be vaccinated; the right to hold Ottawa’s downtown residents and businesses hostage; the right to malign public officials and call for the Prime Minister’s death; the right to shout epithets at people of colour.
And nothing. Because freedom is an empty word unless you ask further questions: “Freedom from what?” “Freedom to do what?” And beyond that, “Where do my freedoms end and the freedoms of others begin?”
Freedom is not absolute. We live in a social matrix, where one person’s exercise of freedom may conflict with another person’s exercise of freedom. Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states this plainly. The Charter gives Canadians a bundle of rights and freedoms. But it prefaces them with this caution – these rights and freedoms, precious as they are, are not absolute. Governments, it proclaims, can limit freedoms, provided the limits are “reasonable” and can be “justified in a free and democratic society.”
Trudeau ends use of Emergencies Act, says ‘situation is no longer an emergency’
The Governor General signed off on the revocation on Wednesday afternoon, which formally ended the state of emergency.
MPs in the House of Commons voted to affirm use of the act on Monday. The Senate was in the midst of debating the act on Wednesday but withdrew the motion shortly after Trudeau made his announcement.
The government’s decision to invoke the act on Monday, Feb. 14 became a source of considerable controversy and criticism. The act had never been used since it was passed by Parliament in 1988.
The introduction of the act gave authorities sweeping temporary powers, including the ability to freeze the bank accounts and credit cards of protesters. Attending any event deemed an unlawful assembly, such as the Ottawa convoy protest, also became illegal.
Conservative senator says ‘friendly … patriotic’ Ottawa protesters have been demonized

18 February
The end of the ‘freedom convoy’ in Ottawa: Why rejoicing when occupiers get arrested isn’t the answer
By Linda Mussell, Postdoctoral fellow, Political Studies, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa
(The Conversation) The occupation of Canada’s capital by the so-called “freedom convoy” is over after more than three weeks. A massive police presence on Saturday cleared the streets in front of the Parliament buildings that had been blocked by dozens of trucks. More than 170 people who have protested against anti-vaccine mandates have been arrested and dozens of vehicles have been towed away and impounded.
… Carceral enjoyments is a term coined by political scientist Andrew Dilts. It refers to a type of satisfaction that arises from witnessing the “social death” of other people through carceral action — such as arrest and confinement in jail.
And social death (coined by sociologist Orlando Patterson) refers to the end of a person’s ability to function as a social being. It happens when people are set apart from the rest.
Dilts argues if we want to disrupt white supremacy, we need to pay attention to the pleasures of carcerality and develop strategies to disrupt those enjoyments. Recognizing our material and emotional attachments to carceral enjoyments lets us cultivate certain ways of “killing the joy” of seeing others punished.
We must continue to imagine a better future that features non-carceral responses to transgression in our communities — by equipping communities with the tools they need to disrupt and intervene in patterns of harm, but also developing accountability processes for those who enact it. Much work needs to be done to counter fascism, extremism and white supremacy, but carceral enjoyment from policing and imprisonment isn’t the answer.

17 February
Convoy protest organizers Tamara Lich, Chris Barber arrested in Ottawa
Both have said protesters will stay in the city until mandates are lifted
Justin Ling: Canada was warned before protests that violent extremists infiltrated convoy
Exclusive: intelligence assessments warned in late January that it was ‘likely’ extremists were involved in protests
(The Guardian) Days before the so-called Freedom Convoy reached Ottawa, starting a weeks-long occupation of Canada’s capital and triggering a string of copy-cat blockades, the federal government was warned that violent extremist groups were deeply involved in the protest movement.
Intelligence assessments – prepared by Canada’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (Itac) and seen by the Guardian – warned in late January that it was “likely” that extremists were involved and said that the scale of the protests could yet pose a “trigger point and opportunity for potential lone actor attackers to conduct a terrorism attack”.
The assessments offer the first real glimpse into how federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies have assessed the threat of Canada’s anti-vaccine and conspiracy theory movement.
The intelligence reports also show that clear warnings were sent to Ottawa police ahead of the convoy’s arrival in the capital.
As the occupation dragged into its second week, Itac issued another report on 8 February. … The report makes particular mention of the QAnon figure Romana Didulo, the self-styled “Queen of Canada”, who has instructed her followers to kill healthcare workers and politicians. She and some of her followers appeared in Ottawa for the occupation, waving flags representing her supposed kingdom.
Financial institutions have started freezing protesters’ bank accounts based on RCMP information, Chrystia Freeland says
(Globe & Mail) Financial institutions took the first steps to freeze customers’ accounts after the RCMP sent letters to them and to cryptocurrency exchanges on Wednesday, sharing lists that named protest organizers, and identified digital wallet addresses linked to demonstrators. The letters encouraged the financial institutions to cease transacting with those individuals and digital accounts, and Ms. Freeland said on Thursday that banks and other financial institutions are “collaborating properly and effectively.”
The Coutts 13: New details on the men and women arrested at border blockade
4 of those charged are accused of conspiring to murder RCMP officers
Of the four southern Alberta men accused of conspiring to murder RCMP officers, two have ties to a man who founded a neo-fascist, white supremacist group that aims to accomplish its goals through violence.
Chris Carbert, 44, of Lethbridge, Anthony Olienick, 39, of Claresholm, Jerry Morin, 40, of Olds and Christopher Lysak, 48, of Lethbridge all face charges of conspiracy to murder, a weapons offence and mischief over $5,000.
Carbert and Lysak both have ties to Jeremy MacKenzie, the Nova Scotia founder of Diagolon, a group described by University of New Brunswick professor David Hofmann as an American-style militia movement.
Heavy police presence descends on downtown Ottawa, metal fencing goes up near convoy protesters

16 February
Heading of Politico Ottawa Playbook: Move it or lose it
Morning Update: Ottawa pushing ahead with Emergencies Act as border protests end

14 February
Baffled by the Chaos in Canada? So Are Canadians.
The protests seem to challenge the cherished image that Canadians are moderate, rule-following and just plain nice. But was that really a myth all along?
By Catherine Porter, Toronto bureau chief for The Times
(NYT) For two years, Canadians have been largely stuck at home, and many have spent more time in front of the screen than ever. As they did, they absorbed the American culture war being played out from Fox News to Breitbart, and Trumpian ideas took root in Canada, said Gerald Butts, a longtime friend of Mr. Trudeau’s and his former top political aide.
It was not just ideas.
Right-wing activists in the United States and elsewhere have lent more than moral support to their new kindred spirits in Canada. They are opening their wallets. At least some of the money that has allowed the protesters to keep their trucks fueled and cover other expenses has flowed in from untraceable sources on crowdfunding platforms and cryptocurrencies.

The federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act. Here’s what that means
The act grants cabinet — Trudeau and his ministers — the ability to “take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times” to cope with an emergency and the resulting fallout during an “urgent and critical situation.”
The law itself defines an emergency as something that “seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians.”
While the federal government still has to respect the terms of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the law gives the federal government a lot of leeway for action. For one thing, it gives the federal cabinet unprecedented power to assume jurisdiction from the provinces and municipalities.
Mounties seize guns and arrest 13 protesters at border blockade in Alberta
Mounties said in a release early Monday that they became aware of a small organized group within the larger protest at Coutts, which led to 11 arrests.
They say they had information that the group had access to a cache of firearms and ammunition in three trailers. Officers seized long guns, handguns, multiple sets of body armour, a machete, a large quantity of ammunition and high-capacity firearm magazines.
In light of the news, Marco Van Huigenbos, one of the organizers of the protest, said a decision has been reached to roll out from Coutts on Tuesday morning.

13 February
Ambassador Bridge reopens after police clear protesters
The Canada Border Services Agency says the Ambassador Bridge border crossing between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit reopened late Sunday.
Border blockade damaged Canada’s reputation, business leaders say
(Globe & Mail) …industry groups are concerned the nearly week-long blockade has damaged Canada’s reputation with international investors, especially as a separate demonstration in Coutts, Alta., continues to disrupt the flow of goods to and from the United States.
The protest at the crucial border crossing that connects Windsor and Detroit has severely affected Canada-U.S. trade, forcing auto makers on both sides of the border to temporarily stop production and send workers home in some cases. Food producers, meanwhile, face the prospect of perishable items spoiling as shipments are not able to be delivered.
“This is absolutely the worst time in the last 50 years to be pointing out to international investors that Canada’s access to the U.S. market is not guaranteed,” [Flavio Volpe, president of Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association] said.
Automakers are investing heavily in production of electric vehicles and several large companies are looking to establish battery manufacturing plants in North America. The uncertainty and disruption caused by the border blockades could give investors pause when considering new business in Canada, Mr. Volpe said. “There’s a chance that we’re further down the priority list today,” he said.
Multiple border crossings remain closed as convoy protests against COVID-19 measures continue
Police on Sunday are resuming efforts to clear the Ambassador Bridge, the key trade route that links Windsor, Ont., and Detroit, where protesters opposed to COVID-19 public health restrictions have brought traffic to a standstill for days.
Windsor Police say enforcement actions are under way at the foot of the bridge, saying they’re towing vehicles still at the protest site and barring anyone else from arriving on scene. The bridge is not yet open to traffic.

10-11 February
The trucker convoy shows how Canadians are being sucked into larger conspiratorial narratives
By Daniel Panneton, writer, educator and online hate researcher based in Toronto.
(Globe & Mail) The United States is not the only country where the pandemic has frayed the shared sense of community and reality; Canadians are similarly vulnerable to radicalization. As with QAnon, the recent Freedom Convoy to Ottawa demonstrates how existing economic and political concerns are converging around and being sucked into larger conspiratorial narratives. Nominally protesting against vaccine mandates, the Freedom Convoy represented a medley of real, imagined and exaggerated issues bound together by a common sense of alienation and grievance. It created a context in which mainstream and fringe concerns could meld, merge and reinforce each other, and where extreme symbols and rhetoric could be normalized by association and adjacency with legitimate issues.
Paranoia and alarmism: Canada truckers’ ‘intelligence reports’ hint at mindset
Documents compiled by protest organisers give a glimpse into a conspiracy theory-drenched outlook
(The Guardian) Leaders of the Ottawa “Freedom Convoy” protest have warned fellow protesters that the risk of violence is growing, amid speculation the police may move to disperse the nearly two-week occupation of Canada’s capital.
Daily “intelligence reports” compiled by protest leaders and seen by the Guardian – as well as public comments by the organisers – have grown increasingly alarmist in recent days.
While the reports include misinformation, and should not be taken as credible intelligence, they nevertheless offer an insight on the occupiers’ conspiratorial mindset.

Ontario freezes funds from GiveSendGo trucker convoy fundraiser
By Stephanie Taylor
(The Canadian Press) The Ontario government says it has successfully petitioned a court to freeze access to millions of dollars donated through online fundraising platform GiveSendGo to the convoy protesting COVID-19 restrictions in Ottawa and at several border crossings. The province obtained an order from the Superior Court of Justice that prohibits anyone from distributing donations made through the website’s “Freedom Convoy 2022” and “Adopt-a-Trucker” campaign pages, said a spokeswoman for Premier Doug Ford.
Donors initially raised more than $10 million through GoFundMe, which announced last Friday it was pulling the plug on the campaign and that the money would be refunded. The site said it initially believed the demonstration was going to be peaceful, but withdrew its support after police and local leaders raised concerns it had become an “occupation.”
Organizers have also touted the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as another way to generate funds for protesters and avoid other potential fundraising shutdowns, including during a news conference that was livestreamed to supporters on Wednesday.

Canadian ‘Freedom Convoy’ surges beyond legitimate protest
(WaPo) The irony is that Canada’s tough pandemic restrictions have contributed to a covid-19 death rate that is among the lowest in the developed world, roughly a third of that in the United States, the Editorial Board writes.
The truckers are sick of restrictions — fine; who isn’t? But by crippling a major capital, subverting commerce and jobs, and advocating the overthrow of a fairly elected government, they have surged beyond legitimate protest into the realm of thuggery.

9 February
Justin Ling: The problem with Ottawa’s protesters
(Politico) The convoy occupiers want a meeting with government leadership, but their conspiratorial mindset makes that a no-win for Justin Trudeau.
The mounting demands from the occupiers, who have entrenched themselves into downtown Ottawa since the last weekend in January, are a grab bag of anti-establishment, anti-government anger. But there’s one clear objective: Eliminate all requirements and mandates for the Covid-19 vaccine.
While the occupation notionally began in protest of a vaccine requirement for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border, their grievances stretch much further than truckers.

8 February
The whole world should be worried by the ‘siege of Ottawa’. This is about much more than a few anti-vaxx truckers
How did this ‘grassroots’ rebellion paralyse the Canadian capital? With funding from the far right and a boost from Facebook misinformation
Arwa Mahdawi
(The Guardian) What the truck is going on in Canada? No offence to Ottawa, but it’s not the most exciting place in the world. Over the past couple of weeks, however, the Canadian capital has been embroiled in drama: hundreds of truckers, ostensibly protesting against vaccine mandates, have brought the city to a standstill. Members of the so-called “Freedom Truck Convoy” have been blaring horns, desecrating war memorials and setting off fireworks. Residents are being driven to distraction. The police chief has called the situation a “siege”; the Ontario premier called it “an occupation”. On Monday, the city’s mayor, Jim Watson, declared a state of emergency.
5G and QAnon: how conspiracy theorists steered Canada’s anti-vaccine trucker protest
Ottawa’s occupation was a result of unrivaled coordination between anti-vax and anti-government organizations
Justin Ling
The so-called “freedom convoy” – which departed for Ottawa on 23 January – was the brainchild of James Bauder, an admitted conspiracy theorist who has endorsed the QAnon movement and called Covid-19 “the biggest political scam in history”. Bauder’s group, Canada Unity, contends that vaccine mandates and passports are illegal under Canada’s constitution, the Nuremberg Code and a host of other international conventions.
Aaron Wherry: The protest convoy could cast a long shadow in Canadian politics
The anger is real — and no one in any party seems entirely sure of what to do next
(CBC) The key lesson of Ottawa’s siege might be that it’s difficult to get populist, anti-democratic anger to leave once you’ve invited it in and allowed it to get comfortable.
…the vast majority of Canadians have trusted public health officials enough to get vaccinated against COVID-19. There is similarly high support for requiring vaccination for certain settings and occupations, as well as for people entering the country.
But those attitudes are not universal. And if there is deep disagreement, it’s exacerbated and amplified by social media’s power to cultivate resentment, the American tilt toward populism over the past decade and the simple fact that everyone has been living with the pandemic for two years.

7 February
How Ottawa’s convoy went viral
By Sue Allan
(Politico Ottawa Playbook) The mayor has declared a state of emergency. The premier says the protest in the nation’s capital has become an occupation. The prime minister, meanwhile, is in private meetings.”

Note that both Toronto and Quebec have done a better job of handling their convoys.
Canada enters second week of crippling Covid-19 protests
(MSN/CNN) Protests across Canada over a gamut of Covid-19 regulations are stretching into a second week of blocked roads and sometimes-dangerous rallies, with claims of hate-related incidents under investigation and arrests made amid reports of rocks and eggs thrown.

6 February
Ottawa declares state of emergency as police boost enforcement, target protest’s fuel supply
Protest is ‘most serious emergency our city has ever faced,’ mayor says
(CBC) A local state of emergency will allow Ottawa to work more efficiently to manage essential services and make procurement more flexible, the city said. Provincial legislation grants mayors powers during an emergency to make orders “not contrary to law to implement the emergency plan of the municipality and to protect property and the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the emergency area.”
Amid increasing resident anger, police said on Saturday that they lack the resources to end the protest, now in its 10th day.
Politicians have also increasingly denounced the protest over COVID-19 public health restrictions, with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and others calling it an “occupation” and the head of the Ottawa Police Services Board referring to it as an “insurrection.”
Toronto police to maintain road closures and heavy presence downtown day after large protest
Police plan follows crowds at Queen’s Park, trucks blocking intersection, 2 arrests
Ottawa protest faces rising resident anger, uncertain finances in its 2nd week
The protest’s main fundraiser was shut down, and it now faces a class-action suit
Just over a week since the first vaccine mandate protesters rolled into Ottawa, ongoing demonstrations face financial uncertainty and increasing frustration from local residents — even as more protesters are expected to join the group this weekend.
The number of protesters in the downtown Ottawa area has fluctuated during the past week, from thousands in the city last weekend to about 250 by Tuesday, police said. But Ottawa police announced they expect potentially thousands more protesters to arrive this weekend.
Protesters have maintained a near-constant level of noise and disruption in the downtown core of the nation’s capital, blocking traffic, honking horns, setting off fireworks and organizing loud music.

28 January
Canada must confront the toxic ‘Freedom Convoy’ head-on
By David Moscrop, host of the podcast Open to Debate, and the author of “Too Dumb for Democracy? Why We Make Bad Political Decisions and How We Can Make Better Ones.”
(WaPo) Those taking part are on their way, ostensibly, to protest pandemic measures, including vaccine mandates for truckers, but that’s just the tip of the spear. The leadership of the group is promising to remain peaceful, but the convoy is made up of many individuals and far-right groups that have embraced the convoy as a Canadian version of the Jan. 6 rioting in the United States. The movement shares an affinity with Trumpist toxic authoritarianist politics. Indeed, the convoy has received attention from Donald Trump Jr. Police and security services are preparing for the worst as experts express concern about the online vitriol and journalists covering the convoy are harassed.

Justin Ling: MPs Told to Hide From Anti-Vaxxer Convoy by Parliament Security Chief
The convoy, dubbed “Operation BearHug,” is seeking to abolish all measures in place to fight COVID-19 and removing Justin Trudeau’s government from power. If they don’t get their way, they intend to blockade Ottawa until their demands are met. This has been the plan from the very beginning.
The convoy, organized by some people with connections to extreme-right or anti-vax movements, has garnered support from some mainstream Conservatives.
Right now, hundreds of vehicles, maybe more, are barrelling towards Ottawa, with a plan to blockade Canada’s capital to protest, among other things, vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers.
The convoy has been enthusiastically endorsed by some Conservative Members of Parliament. It has been lauded in the pages of the Toronto Sun. It has been promoted the world over, on Fox News, and by Twitter philosophers like Jordan B. Peterson and Elon Musk.
…there are mounting concerns the convoy could turn ugly. The stated objectives of the founders and organizers of the movement go well beyond vaccine mandates for truckers. … The protest, originally, had nothing to do with truckers: The freedom convoy began as one man in his winnebago.
James Bauder registered the Canada Unity Facebook page in late 2019, when he was a fervent supporter of the United We Roll anti-carbon tax convoy. Things didn’t exactly take off: In March 2021, his recently-registered website boasted a membership count of 30.
Bauder’s Facebook is littered with videos from Fox News broadcaster Tucker Carlson and MAGA politician Louie Gohmert. He has endorsed the false idea that the 2020 U.S. election was rigged. He has repeatedly shared the hashtag “#WWG1WGA”—the rallying cry for the QAnon movement. He has endorsed the idea that the terror attacks of 9/11 and the anti-Muslim massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, were planned by some shadowy government body. He has called COVID-19 a “political scam” and a “plandemic,” and has pointed fingers at George Soros, Bill Gates, and vaccine-maker Pfizer for creating the virus. In 2020, he warned, “​​I think WW3 could start as soon as Feb 2021. I also predict this war will take place on Canadian soil.”

Canada Unity Memorandum of Agreement
Dear Canadian Citizens, Indigenous Communities, and Permanent Residents:
Thank you for choosing to take part in this unprecedented Nationwide movement.
Canada Unity represents and defends a coalition of Concerned Canadian Citizens, Permanent Residents, Indigenous Communities, Employers, Employees from private and government bodies, Institutions and Businesses at large.
The bond we have in common is that we stand opposed to the current unlawful restrictions and discriminatory SARS-CoV-2 (and not limited to SARS, CoV 2 subsequent variations) mandates.

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