Downplaying risks of Ottawa truck convoy after the fact is ‘revisionist’: Minister – National
The political rhetoric downplaying the serious repercussions of the so-called “freedom convoy” on Canada’s capital and the country’s security is both “irresponsible” and “revisionist”, said the Minister of Public Safety.
In an interview with The West Block David Akin guest host Marco Mendicino said the public inquiry launched into why the government invoked the Emergency Measures Act in response to the convoy is important for accountability to the public.
But he warned there appears to be a “deliberate” effort to minimize the impact of the convoy, which police and federal and city officials have described as an “occupation”.
“We were taking this situation very seriously – because it was – and I would like to point out that there is, I think, a very conscious and deliberate effort on the part of some within our political discourse to try to diminish and engage in some revisionism,” Mendicino said of the situation that led to the invocation.
“I think it’s reckless. We made a responsible decision. We have the burden and the responsibility to protect Canadians.
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The Ottawa convoy was part of a series of blockades in late January and throughout February that saw several Canada-US border checkpoints blocked, as well as encampment in the streets of the capital that lasted nearly four weeks.
During this period, participants tormented residents of the largely residential downtown area with air horns and truck horns. Police said they received hundreds of reports of harassment, threatening behavior, hate crimes and traffic violations from the public.
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Police were largely unprepared for the speed with which protesters, equipped with large trucks and heavy machinery, blocked streets and installed infrastructure.
It took nearly four weeks and a major police operation including officers from across the country to clear the camp. Ottawa’s acting chief Steve Bell this week acknowledged that the February events had caused “hurts” and said there was a need for “healing” between residents and police.
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“We’re a tired town,” Bell said. “We’ve had too much of this type of activity in and around and through our streets, especially in the downtown area.
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His comments came as police faced pressure to explain their plans to limit the impact of a motorcycle convoy arriving in the city on Friday, and federal authorities launched a public inquiry, as demanded the law, about the circumstances that led them to invoke the Emergencies Act.
The Conservatives argued that this amounted to a violation of Canadians’ constitutional rights – although the Emergencies Act specifically says it cannot override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
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Part of that investigation may examine the factors that led to the blockages, Mendicino said.
“I want to emphasize that I am concerned, as Minister of Public Safety, about the ideological extremism that has sparked the occupation here in Ottawa and the blockades,” he said.
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Ideologically motivated violent extremism is a growing concern for Canadian law enforcement, encompassing a broad set of interconnected extremist ideologies that typically focus on anti-immigrant, anti-government, anti-women, and anti-Semitic ideologies.
Experts say many have their roots in white supremacy and easily spread online to radicalize people who wouldn’t normally be exposed to hateful and extremist content.
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Mendicino suggested extremist ideology was on display with calls from some convoy organizers for the governor general to unilaterally remove the prime minister and government – ideas clearly out of step with reality and the constitutional distribution of powers in Canada. .
He pointed to the fact that the Emergency Measures Act was only in place for 10 days before being revoked as evidence that the government was not trying to go too far.
“We didn’t want to invoke the Emergencies Act. We’ve always been, I think, very reluctant to invoke it,” Mendicino said. “I think that’s a direct rebuttal of some who would say it was going to be an overkill. No, it was very time limited, very targeted and Charter compliant.
The report of the public inquiry is expected in 10 months.
Mendicino said the hope was to get recommendations “so this never happens again.”
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