'Freedom convoy': RCMP not under political pressure, says boss | Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency
Brenda Lucki swears no line was crossed by the Trudeau government during the occupation of Ottawa.
Brenda Lucki explained to the Rouleau commission that the RCMP does not have jurisdiction over the maintenance of order in the city of Ottawa, even if the federal police are legally responsible for ensuring the respect of certain specific mandates in the Canadian capital. .
Called upon to support the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) during the occupation of the capital's downtown core last winter, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were able to do their job without no form of interference from the political class, certified the big boss of the federal police, Brenda Lucki, on Tuesday.
I did not feel any pressure, a she said, Tuesday morning, to the Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency.
That said, we weren't the police force in charge, Ms. Lucki pointed out – a reminder that, by her own admission, had to be made several times during the crisis, as some politicians believed the RCMP was offering Ottawa local police services, while his mandate was limited to the protection of certain infrastructures.
Unsurprisingly, members of the Trudeau Cabinet asked him many questions every day about the follow-up to donate to protests – but never crossing the line, Ms. Lucki assured. They were just trying to find a solution, she nuanced.
“Problem solving can sometimes be like, 'We should do this, we should do that. Could we do this? Could we do that?" And sometimes people can interpret it as a directive. This is not a direct directive. In my opinion, a directive would be: "We need you to do this or not." That is a directive, and that would be political interference. »
— Brenda Lucki, Commissioner of the RCMP
Questioned by a Commission prosecutor on the absence of an institution responsible for ensuring independence of the RCMP from the government, Commissioner Lucki offered to settle the matter once and for all.
I think it's time to put something in writing that would describe what you can and cannot do as a commissioner or a politician, she suggested, noting that this issue has often been highlighted during the hearings of the Commission of Inquiry into the killings in Portapique, Nova Scotia.
Brenda Lucki, who began her testimony Tuesday morning alongside her deputy Mike Duheme, also said she was taken aback by the mayor of Ottawa's request to send 1,800 police officers as reinforcements to the so-called “freedom convoy” demonstration.
< p class="e-p">The Commissioner indicated in her testimony that she did not know that the OPS wanted the support of so many officers until she became aware of the request submitted by Jim Watson to the federal and provincial governments on February 7.
She said on Tuesday that the request did not contain any specific information about this deployment of reinforcements, such as the duration for which these police officers would be loaned or what exactly they would do.
The motion also did not specify how many of those officers were to be loaned by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and how many of those officers were to be provided by the RCMP, Ms. Lucki.
We had to translate this into an operational plan, she summed up. However, at that time, the OPS had not yet updated its operational plan according to the situation, which was a source of concern for the federal police.Enlarge image
The RCMP intervened during the occupation of downtown Ottawa without ever taking control of the operations.
Ultimately, some 1,100 RCMP officers were assigned to occupy downtown Ottawa. Most of them arrived in the days before federal emergency measures were invoked.
The Trudeau government invoked the emergency measures on February 14, 2022 to end a rally of truckers and other protesters opposing COVID-19 health measures that paralyzed downtown Ottawa from Saturday January 29 to Sunday January 20 February.
This law – adopted in 1988 to succeed the War Measures Act – provides in particular that a public inquiry must a fortiori examine the circumstances which led the authorities to take such a decision.
Ms. Lucki, who believed on February 13 that “all available tools” had not been exhausted by the police to end the occupation of Ottawa, also revealed on Tuesday that she did not ;had never been able to share his opinion on the subject explicitly with members of the Trudeau government.
Law enforcement had at the time drawn up a plan complete to liberate the city centre, explained the commissioner. However, she was not invited to the Cabinet meeting where the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act was taken, she said.
That being said, Ms Lucki is unsure whether this information would have convinced government officials to back off on the emergency measures which, in the end, she says were helpful.
< p class="e-p">Judge Rouleau has seen all the colors for a month.
Three weeks ago, an exchange of text messages between Commissioner Lucki and the OPP boss Thomas Carrique made it clear that the OPS quickly lost the confidence of the Trudeau government when the convoy of truckers stormed the capital last winter.
Ms Lucki, however, clarified on Tuesday that no minister, to her knowledge, had spoken so verbatim. Rather, the commissioner explained that she herself inferred this loss of confidence based on the impatience and frustration expressed in the meetings she attended.
I don't remember hearing anyone say, 'We're losing faith,' she admitted. That was my observation. When I heard comments about the duration and the protest growing in size, I assumed the trust was broken.
Curtis Zablocki, RCMP Deputy Commissioner responsible for Alberta, will be next to appear before Judge Rouleau. It should be about the Coutts blockade, which disrupted border crossings from January 29 to February 14.
The events of last winter deeply divided the approximately 250 residents of this village, said Mayor Jim Willett last week.
To put an end to the dam, the government of former Prime Minister Jason Kenney has asked for the help of the Canadian Armed Forces, but to no avail. It was ultimately an intervention by the RCMP that made it possible to reopen the main road link between Alberta and Montana.
The Commission will sit until Friday, November 25. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be called as a witness, but his Ontario counterpart, Doug Ford, has obtained an exemption from the Federal Court.