Rouleau Commission: “There was a great threat to the Canadian economy” | Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency
The Minister of Finances Chrystia Freeland testifies Thursday at the Rouleau Commission on the state of emergency.
The Canadian Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, in turn testifies before the Rouleau commission on the state of emergency. On Thursday morning, she focused on how blockades and protests could harm Canada's economy, including creating “irreparable harm” in trade relations with the United States.
Chrystia Freeland began her testimony by recalling the context of the months leading up to the February 2022 protests. At the time, Canada was already fearing a trade war with the United States, which was in the process of developing the Build Back Better Act. , a bill that wanted to give financial incentives to automakers to have their vehicles built on American soil.
The protests, she pointed out, including on the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, gave Americans one more argument to encourage protectionism in the auto industry. The longer this went on, the greater the risk that the United States would lose confidence in us and that our trade relationship would be damaged beyond repair. And the greater the risk that foreign investors would give up on Canada.
“For the first time, Americans saw a yellow light flashing in Canada that said the Canadian supply chain could be a problem for the United States. I understood then that the danger was not the immediate harm, but the irreparable harm in our trade relationship with the United States.
—Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Canada
Chrystia Freeland's concerns were then confirmed during a meeting with the heads of Canada's major banks on the Sunday evening before the Emergencies Act was invoked. A completely unusual meeting, the Minister has also underlined on several occasions, proving in her view the urgency of the situation.
According to the minutes of the meeting, the leaders pointed out that Canada's reputation was at risk.
I spent a lot of time in the United States last week, and people called us a “joke,” said one. An investor told me, “I won't invest a dime in your banana republic of Canada anymore”.
“J understood that there was a great threat to the Canadian economy. It threatened investment in Canada [and] investment is Canada's Achilles' heel.
A reduction in investment would result in the loss of jobs for Canadians, could reduce the general standard of living of Canadians. […] And I had to lead the boat, I have an important and deep responsibility vis-à-vis Canadians and Canadians, she added, moved and with tears in her eyes. Sorry, I'm getting carried away.
We absolutely had to find a way to put an end to all this.
The Trudeau government invoked the Emergencies Act 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, February 20.
This law – adopted in 1988 to succeed the War Measures Act – provides, among other things, that a public inquiry must a posteriori consider the circumstances that led the authorities to take such a decision.
Chrystia Freeland was notably responsible for the emergency economic powers granted to banks and other financial institutions to freeze the accounts of participants in the Freedom Convoy.
And the Ministry of Finance of the Canada was at the end of its resources to prevent a free fall of the economy, defended Ms. Freeland.
Two ways were possible. First, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada (FINTRAC), which is the center for all financial transactions, money laundering, etc. But FINTRAC's lack of executive power offered limited possibilities, argued the minister.
Then, would the law on banks have made it possible to freeze accounts, and thus peacefully encourage the demonstrators to leave? places? This option was not fast enough, Freeland argued, in a context of rapidly growing threats, because it takes time to change laws in Canada.
We looked at the tools available at that point and came to the conclusion that everything we could use was already used, explained Minister Freeland.
Des first accounts were finally frozen after the Emergencies Act was invoked on February 17.
His testimony will be followed by those of three employees of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office, namely his chief of staff Katie Telford, Brian Clow and John Brodhead.
The Prime Minister himself should to appear on Friday, the last day of the factual phase of the Commission's public hearings, which will have lasted a little over six weeks.
On Wednesday, Justice Minister David Lametti, National Defense Minister Anita Anand and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra testified before the judge Paul Rouleau.
Minister Lametti's lack of transparency was decried after his visit. The latter, as Attorney General – and therefore as legal adviser to the government – has repeatedly invoked solicitor-client privilege to justify his refusal to disclose the legal bases on which the federal government's decision to x27;invoking the Emergency Measures Act last winter.
On Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino answered questions prosecutors. In particular, he said that the risk of turning into armed violence and witnessing the loss of life when Coutts was blocked had finally convinced him of the need to invoke the Emergency Measures Act. /p>
This last week of testimony began on Monday with that of the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), David Vigneault, who said he had recommended to Justin Trudeau to decree the state emergency even though his organization had determined that there was no “threat to national security” within the meaning of the CSIS Act.