RCMP officers complain of ‘political pressure’ from feds after invocation of Emergencies Act: report

RCMP officers said providing hourly intelligence updates for ministers harmed their ability to police the 2022 Freedom Convoy. Some accused government officials of ‘politicizing’ an already tense protest.

RCMP officers complain of ‘political pressure’ from feds after invocation of Emergencies Act: report
The Canadian Press / Cole Burston
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RCMP officers are saying the Emergencies Act invocation left them uncomfortable, amid incredible pressure from the federal government.

Published last week, the report, National After-Action Review into the RCMP’s response to the 2022 Freedom Convoy, raised concerns about exercising emergency powers against lawful protests.

On February 14, 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau permitted the warrantless seizure of bank accounts and assets of convoy supporters, amid a weeks-long, trucker-led protest against COVID mandates.

According to figures obtained through an access to information request by Blacklock’s Reporter, an estimated $7.8 million in holdings belonging to convoy supporters had been seized by 267 bank accounts and 170 bitcoin wallets in 2022.

“Respondents felt it was unclear what impact the invocation of the Emergencies Act had on the police response and police authorities,” reads National After-Action Review.

“Furthermore, some respondents expressed they felt uncomfortable applying the peace officer authorities granted once the Emergencies Act was invoked as they did not feel that they had a clear understanding of those authorities,” wrote the RCMP. 

Access to information records show federal ministers only sought advice from Crown prosecutors after invoking the Emergencies Act, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

“I filed an access to information request for the memorandum on the Emergencies Act sent to the Attorney General from the Public Prosecution Service,” Conservative MP Arnold Viersen said in a statement. “What did they advise the Attorney General? We will never know because Justin Trudeau censored it.” 

The two-page Memorandum For The Attorney General was written by the deputy director of prosecutions on February 15, 2022 — one day after cabinet invoked emergency powers. The entire document was censored.

According to respondents deployed to the National Capital Region, the lack of “enforcement action” from local law enforcement intensified discomfort with enforcing certain legislation. 

Officers at the 2022 Ottawa convoy also claimed that providing hourly intelligence updates for ministers harmed their ability to police the protest, accusing government officials of politicizing the situation.

“Interviewees also indicated that there were issues with information and intelligence that was disseminated to external Government of Canada agencies. Specifically, some Government of Canada partners would misrepresent the information or misattribute third-party information as RCMP information,” the report reads.  

A January 23 Federal Court ruling contends the federal response “criminalized the attendance of every single person at those protests regardless of their actions.” Trudeau’s cabinet is currently appealing the judgment.

Federal ministers misinterpreted police intelligence to serve their means, adds National After-Action Review. Other federal partners did not respect the RCMP chain of command or established protocols for requesting information from the RCMP.

On February 7, 2022, then-public safety minister Marco Mendicino claimed his colleagues never pressured law enforcement to enforce the extrajudicial laws.

“The community expects the law to be obeyed and public safety to be upheld,” Mendicino told MPs. “The federal government has been there from day one to support the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Police Service, and the RCMP has provided officers and other additional resources,” he added.

“It is important to note that operational decisions are made by the police, independent from the government,” said Mendicino.

That contradicts testimony from respondent RCMP officers, who said their role became “highly politicized” when the feds exerted “high” pressure during the convoy.

“The pressures from government and the public to resolve the blockades were high during the convoy,” the report reads. “This was particularly the case with respect to the convoy events in the National Capital Region.”

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