Justice Minister David Lametti made jokes about sending in the army against the Freedom Convoy


Embarrassing text messages from the Attorney General of Canada, David Lametti, ‘jokingly’ offering to send in the army, calling the Ottawa police chief ‘incompetent’ and evoking emergency measures in the first week of the Freedom Convoy were read Wednesday before the Rouleau Commission.

“This exchange must be understood as a joke between two friends, explained the Minister of Justice to Commissioner Paul Rouleau. [D’envoyer] the Canadian Forces was not an option. »

On the giant screens of the Commission on the state of emergency were displayed correspondence by text messages with his colleague Minister of Public Security, Marco Mendicino. On the sixth day of blocking trucks in Ottawa, on the evening of February 2, Mr. Lametti wrote to him, in English: “You need to get the police moving. And the CAF [Forces armées canadiennes] if necessary. »

The post, which contains no overt cues in a humorous tone, goes on to say that people « who aren’t stupid » are waiting for his leadership, like former Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney. After Mr. Mendicino asked him how many tanks were needed, Mr. Lametti replied sarcastically, « I think one is enough! » »

Dozens of these messages sent or received by federal elected officials were revealed to the Commission on the state of emergency, lifting the veil in an unprecedented way on private discussions between decision-makers. The commission must determine whether it was justified to invoke the federal emergency measures for the first time since their creation in 1988.

The urgency discussed from the start

The evidence shows that Minister David Lametti, who also acts as the government’s chief lawyer, began to think about using this emergency law to dislodge the Freedom Convoy less than 48 hours after the arrival trucks in front of the Federal Parliament.

“Do we have an alternative plan to remove these trucks tomorrow or Tuesday […] What authority do we have, is a decree necessary? LMU [Loi sur les mesures d’urgence] ? “, he texted to an employee on January 30.

David Lametti explained that this request was only intended to be ready “for all eventualities”. He also said he was « frustrated » as a part-time resident of Ottawa to see city police standing idly by protesters who were carrying gas cans in defiance of the law. This justifies, according to him, his textual comment to his colleague Marco Mendicino, on February 4: “ [l’ex-chef de police d’Ottawa Peter] Sloly is incompetent”.

In another conversation, this time with an elected Quebec Liberal who was dissatisfied with his government’s actions so far, the minister wrote on February 13 that the emergency represented « the only other legal option » remaining.

The Member of Parliament for Hull—Aylmer, Greg Fergus, who is represented in Mr. Lametti’s contacts by a childish drawing of a drummer, then asks him for « a solid spokesperson » for the police or the army in front of the media, « because the politicians have screwed up their credibility. The emergency measures, which made « consensus » within the Liberal caucus, were invoked the following day, February 14.

Minister Lametti said he felt « vulnerable » during the three weeks of occupation of the streets of Ottawa. He notably left the federal capital for his home in Montreal to work remotely, and said he feared for the safety of the women who work in his office. Several messages threatening him with death were entered into evidence.

The Attorney General refused to answer many questions about the minimum threshold required to speak of a « threat to the security of Canada », since his legal advice to the government is protected by solicitor-client privilege.

The army sent meals

The armed forces did play a role, albeit a minor one, in last winter’s crisis, the commission heard on Wednesday. As the government had repeatedly repeated during the events, the deployment of soldiers was not considered, except to provide canned food to Parliament.

« Our country’s soldiers are not police officers, » Defense Minister Anita Anand said in her testimony.

The Canadian Forces still stored no less than 1,800 individual meals in the federal parliament buildings, at the request of its security service, which wanted to prepare for the possibility of confinement in mid-February.

Alberta tried unsuccessfully to get military tow trucks to move the trucks blocking the Coutts border. “They’re made for pulling tanks out of a hole. It’s too big a piece of equipment,” explained Minister Anand. Minister Marco Mendicino also stressed on Tuesday that the federal government was « reluctant » to ask the army for help during the events of last winter, given its history of recourse during the October crisis in 1970.

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