On Thursday, a trio of top employees in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) testified before the Public Order Emergency Committee examining the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act.
Chief of Staff Katie Telford, Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Clow, and Director of Policy John Brodhead stood on a panel, testifying about their roles during the “Liberty Convoy” protests and when officials Senior officials are considering the options they have to make dealing with the occupation of Ottawa and the border blockade.
According to an organization report submitted to the committee by the PMO, the first call the PMO and ministerial staff had to talk about the “Liberty Convoy” took place on January 20, a week before the convoy was scheduled to arrive. ants roll into the nation’s capital. As soon as they started hearing about what might be coming and what some protesters’ intentions might be, Trudeau began receiving daily updates on the situation.
The PMO report also notes that Prime Minister Trudeau’s office “begins to make travel and security arrangements for its staff, as well as the Prime Minister and ministers”, and as of January 27, staff of the PMO are advised to work from home for safety reasons. indicates that “has never been done before.”
Since then, as protesters have arrived and quickly joined in, Trudeau employees say they have grown increasingly nervous. This was followed by a series of briefings and coordinated efforts with ministry officials and staff, as well as with different levels of government, on response efforts and the tools that could be used.
From the way Trudeau agreed to the Emergencies Act, to the conversations surrounding protester involvement that then-Conservative leader Candice Bergen joined, here are the key takeaways from employee statements.
‘TIME IS UP’
After going through a series of events that took place on February 14—the day the government invoked the Emergencies Act—from Trudeau’s meeting with the prime ministers to finally receiving what’s known as the “decision note.” ” from the Secretary of the Privy Council, Clow was asked why a parliamentary debate was not held to discuss the possibility of convening.
He responded by first pointing out that there was an urgent debate about the convoy and the protests a week before it was convened, and that the Act itself contained congressional processes for summoning. set that they have followed and feel is sufficient.
“But the decision to activate on February 4 was made after a series of discussions and input… The opinion is that time is running out and it needs to be enacted immediately,” he said.
Under cross-examination by Saskatchewan government attorney Michael Morris, the PMO staff panel was further questioned about the timing, in order to determine when Trudeau actually made the decision that he would invoke the Act, based on the timeframe for when the Privy Council to announce the office’s decision had arrived and his early evening press conference.
PMO staff pointed out that while they were preparing speeches earlier in the day around their plan to invoke the Act, a final decision would not be made until later and if they needed to change their plans and If they decide not to invoke it, they can have their planned notification rotation quickly.
“We’ve been very nimble during the pandemic, giving advice for things where we’re not sure what the content will be a few hours later and that’s what you need to do in times of crisis,” Telford said. “. .
DISPUTES PROPOSED SENATE IMPACT RECOVERY
Trudeau announced the repeal of the Emergency Act on February 23, two days after the House voted to confirm the power, but before the Senate had a chance to vote. When asked by the committee panel whether the suggestion that the timing of the repeal was related to a lack of confidence that the Senate would confirm the emergency declaration, here’s what Clow and Telford had to say.
Clow: “The reality is quite the opposite. And yes, I know of that proposal, that there’s probably an attempt to revoke it before the Senate votes. We really want the Senate to act as quickly as possible,” Clow said. and I think it happened too, but as has been reported to us, the Senate delayed convening in part because of the very important continuing protests in Ottawa that are taking place on the Senate’s doorstep… We want the Senate to have our vote. would also say that I don’t know of any reason to believe the Senate won’t pass it.”
Telford: “I just want to add that it is extremely important for the prime minister that he be true to what he set out to be from the very beginning when invoking the Act, according to which it should not last more than a minute. relative to absolute time.” necessary, needs. And that’s the whole impetus behind when the cancellation happened. Also, you know, safety and security are at the core of every meeting he goes through, political and congressional affairs are completely separate from that decision.”
BERGEN NOTE TO JOIN ‘BAD CURRENCY’
Another notable piece of information that came from the PMO staff’s involvement on the committee was that, according to them, newly-concluded interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen “acknowledged that there were serious concerns.” talk about how the federal government can get involved and set a bad precedent.”
This excerpt is part of a summary provided by the committee of a previous interview PMO witnesses had with the committee.
Here’s the full section: “Mr. Clow explains that because engagement with career-related people is seen many times as a viable option for career resolution. For example, after a meeting of staff members Mr. Clow recalled that Ms. Telford asked if Interim Leader of the Opposition Candice Bergen could help. The Prime Minister had a conversation with Ms. Bergen that same day. added that during the call, Ms. Bergen acknowledged that there were concerns about who the federal government could get involved with and set a bad precedent.”
When asked in her testimony on Thursday about the currently much-discussed discussions surrounding whether a political representative can or should engage with protesters in an attempt to waive the claim. their meeting or not, here’s more from Telford:
“When it became a career, there were a lot of people who tried to suggest whatever they could to try to find ways to support… I also got suggestions from many other people. MPs. of MPs from other parties coming forward wondering if they can help There are many people trying to figure out if an engagement can be successful and no one can overcome the thought. That first thought… No one can figure out who they should be talking to, there’s no clear leadership on the other side, not even a clear understanding of what they’re going to say.”
Then, noting that there is a certain level of police interaction with protesters, she said: “I think there is also a difference between commitment and negotiation. And the prime minister and the cabinet, the government. was not willing to negotiate on public health measures rooted in science… And I think at the time, a lot of people weren’t sure that’s really what this is all about.”