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Tanks for the memories: Final days of the POEC prove to be predictably illiberal
The Trudeau Liberals never had any interest in dealing in good faith, nor did they make any effort to justify a flimsy legal position. That may not be surprising, but it's no less contemptible.
After 43 days of hearings and 75 witnesses, the Public Order Emergency Commission finally rests, before weeks (and likely months) of work goes into the actual written ruling, and the fulfillment of the Commission’s mandate.
As for anyone who sat through those 43 days, and who were forced to listen to Justin Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland, Marco Mendicino, or David Lametti try to defend the indefensible, now is a time for whiskey, and lots of it.
Barkeep, better leave the bottle.
Say what you will about Justin Trudeau — and the author will: he has a long and checkered history of unethical acts, a tickle-trunk filled with ‘BIPOC’ fetishism, an apparent history of laying hands on women who weren’t interested, and a particular proclivity towards a pantone that would make the author of Little Black Sambo blush — the man is talented when he’s kept on-script; one just has to hope that script is being crafted by those who truly have the best interests of *all* Canadians at heart, and on that matter, there has always been much doubt.
Even so, expectations were low for the final day of hearings, which brought Prime Minister Trudeau out of the bullpen with a deliberately limited pitch selection.
(One can just imagine a cloaked Gerald Butts throwing rocks at his old college pal’s window, before imparting upon him a simple note to “not hang any breaking balls over the plate.”)
In that regard, the PM’s testimony was a success; there were no particularly noteworthy ‘gotchas.’ There were insults to the intelligence of all involved, of course. In the morning session, before cross-examination, he decided to lie to Canadians about *not* suspending their rights and freedoms while invoking the Act (an undeniable reality of the invocation), and he clearly tripped himself up while implying that he doesn’t feel that protests in a “robust democracy” should be used to “demand changes to public policy.” (Otherwise known as the literal purpose of public protest.)
Perhaps, most insultingly, were his actions under cross-examination in the afternoon session where, under oath, he claimed that he did not inflame and incite convoy protests by calling the unvaccinated names.
Not only did he once refer to them as “extremists, racists, and misogynists,” while preening for a Quebec television audience stuck under nightly curfew (for their health, of course), we’re of course all capable of casting our memories back to “the small fringe minority” speech mocked ‘round the world.
He didn’t just slander millions of Canadians, he told them they were “unacceptable.”
Maybe it’s that bottle of whiskey talking, but bar fights have been started over far less.
If that was Trudeau the bad, Trudeau the good carried on amiably where his colleagues left off, mainly by selling the ever-loving hell out of the banality of bureaucratic abuse.
It didn’t matter that they never met the legal threshold for the Emergencies Act in accordance with the CSIS Act, nor was there apparently a need for a clear threat to national security where all other options had been exhausted, they started with feelings over facts, and damned if they weren’t going to end with them, too.
Sure, legal experts were aghast with the entirety of this farce, and with a government that never once attempted to justify a near non-existent legal position, and who decided to pair that with the arrogance of Attorney General David Lametti who wrapped himself in solicitor-client privilege on Wednesday, and would only leave those friendly confines for a smirk or a friendly glance with Justice Rouleau.
It was on that same Wednesday that we even learned that both the attorney general, and the Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino — who shall be heretofore referred to in these columns as “Marco Tiananmen-dicino” — shared breathless text messages in the early days of bouncy castles and weenie roasts where they squealed for military intervention, and even tanks on Wellington Street.
(They claim they were joking, that’s not how it reads. The author is of the opinion that you’d have to be a real ‘tankie’ to trust such claims.)
Not to be outdone, onlookers were graced by the ever-moving target of Chrystia Freeland on Thursday, whose handwritten notes from February revealed that she wanted the protestors labelled as “terrorists.”
Not just anti-social yobs, or the radical fringe minority.
Perhaps worse than that was the cavalcade of ‘top bureaucrats’ (if ever there were an oxymoron…) who preceded Cabinet’s finest, and helped set the stage for the final days of gaslighting, by excusing the undeniable failure of the government to meet the very specific legal threshold for the Act, because they had a “broader interpretation” of the law, so they should be allowed to do as they please.
Only, they never shared the specifics of that broader interpretation; the documents that were released were so comically redacted, often all that remained untouched were the title pages.
If you’re a government that’s determined to use emergency powers to crack down on protestors, and you’re finally hauled before Commission to answer as to why, it is not an unreasonable expectation to have to provide something other than “just trust us,” but that’s exactly the card that Lametti, Freeland, and Trudeau played.
In the repeated absence of any meaningful legal argument, or even the most half-hearted presentation of facts, cross-examiners and the Commission-at-large were again stymied by third-hand accounts of violence and extremism, and the great national emergency that wasn’t.
(Truly lost in the Emergencies Act hearing, and the media spin, has been the simple truth that not a shot was ever fired, nor a gun ever picked up or pointed; hardly a traditional threat to national security, or any threat to the safety of the public. Although, to be fair, the author did witness a man tweak his back during an impromptu Salsa lesson at the corner of Wellington and Metcalfe.)
But the representative from Substack digresses. For while he may have witnessed the good, the bad, and a little bit of the ugly (mainly from counter-protestors) while amongst the crowds in Ottawa, surely he must have been mistaken. Forget those accounts of many who mentioned that downtown felt safer than it had in years, or how protestors shoveled snow for locals and handed out food to the homeless and all who were in need of a hot meal, as ever when it comes to all matters of our modern Liberal messaging apparatus, that must have been experienced differently.
None of this may be surprising, and yes, it was indeed obvious how the inquiry would unfurl from the word go:
But that doesn’t make it any less contemptible.
The sitting federal government of a G7 nation did not deign to answer for the unprecedented deployment of an act they had no business deploying without exhausting all other options, especially when existing police resources and plans would have been sufficient (as they were in Coutts, and on the Ambassador Bridge).
That may cut it for the Rachel Gilmores or Glen McGregors of the world, but it cannot be enough for you, dear reader, and that leaves us with another precedent they’ve now set.
Legal experts have rightfully been concerned with the possibility that now that the Emergencies Act has been finally invoked for what appears to have been decidedly a non-emergency, it shall be invoked with far greater ease going forward. Look no further, for example, to the frequent use of the Notwithstanding Clause.
But it’s another precedent that we allude to, one of rule of law; mainly, that it no longer appears to matter, perhaps not until the Trudeau/Singh alliance dissolves, or the heat death of the known universe, whichever mercifully comes first.
And when that no longer matters to government, what message does that send to its people?
Embarrassed and enraged, a group of small-minded and servile men and women reached for a Morningstar in place of a fly swatter. In doing so, they didn’t just break the backs of protestors, but our very rule of law.
In accordance with their new normal, behave — or don’t behave — accordingly.
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