During the protests, Rob Stewart, the deputy minister of public safety, contacted Beaudin to let him know that the federal government was interested in setting up a meeting with protest leaders. A meeting that was never successful.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and Deputy Minister of Public Safety Rob Stewart both thought the idea satisfactory, and it was reviewed and discussed within cabinet on the same day as Trudeau’s invocation, Convoy attorney Brenden Miller reminded Beaudin during cross-examination.
“Did you know that the cabinet and incidence response group of the political executive was meeting and that your proposal was provided to them?” Miller asked Beaudin.
“No”, Beaudin responded.
Miller closed his questioning by informing Beaudin, “It was, I can tell you that. And then they invoked the Emergencies Act.”
On the morning of February 10, Deputy Minister Rob Stewart sent an email to Leader of OPP negotiation team Marcel Beaudin saying he would like to have a conversation with Beaudin that morning and would “very much appreciate the opportunity to consult you on federal-level engagement with the protesters” wrote Stewart adding “So i can provide informed advice to Ministers”
Jean Leslie OPP PLT program analysts sent a list of advice on how to end the protest. In the letter within the demonstrators consideration section she acknowledged there are Freedom Convoy leaders that are willing to to engage in conversation with police and should be utilized.
Within the the Government considerations bullet point it is pointed out there might not be a police solution to end the protest. During the protest former Police Chief Sloly expressed that he doesn’t think there is a police solution for ending the protest. Beaudin agreed there was possibly no police solution police because they do not have the authority to solve the grievances people have with the federal level Covid-19 vaccination mandates.
In part of the exit strategy advice, OPP PLT program analysts Jean Leslie highlights the importance the mandates are playing in the protest and the federal government to open a dialogue with protesters.
“Perhaps a Health Canada health Canada official can address the science that Omicron numbers have peaked and set timeline/date for when the restrictions would be lifted. Even if it is a week or two away as to not to have the optics of appeasing the protestors, it will likely relieve the pressure and the passion to remain might dwindle” wrote Jean Leslie
She went on to note this appears to be the only non-police option and enforcement could lead to more protests and roads being blocked.
According to the testimony, the federal government had the option of holding talks with protest leaders or using emergency measures as a last resort to put an end to the protest. The last resort option was ultimately picked by Justin Trudeau’s government.
Additionally, Beaudin stated that Tom Morazzo, one of the convoy leaders, had told him that he was confident in his ability to persuade 60% of the vehicles to depart Ottawa. This evidence adds support to the idea that the federal government’s suggestion to meet with convoy commanders would have been fruitful.
Before Miller began grilling Beaudin about his interactions with Deputy Minister Stewart and their joint efforts to arrange a meeting with convoy leaders and federal government personnel, commission attorneys pushed Beaudin on these matters.
According to an email conversation between Stewart and Beaudin, Stewart was worried about the safety of meeting with convoy leaders. Stewart asked Beaudin, “would the person going to the meeting be putting themselves at risk?” in the email.
In his testimony, Beaudin stated that he had no concerns and that “there wasn’t a pile of risk there.”
Stewart also requested from Beaudin via email on February 12th a list of convoy leaders who would attend the meeting; however, when the commission’s attorneys questioned Beaudin about whether he ever gave Stewart that list, Beaudin testified that the meeting had been abruptly cancelled the following day by the federal government.
“He called me the next morning and said that he was not able to make this happen ultimately,” Beaudin told the commission.
Beaudin was asked by commission lawyers if Stewart had provided him a reason for cancelling the meeting given that the OPP, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS), and the RCMP were “provisionally on board.”
In reply, Beaudin said he “definitely not involved in the conversations that stopped that from happening.”
Prior to Beaudin’s testimony, OPS inspector Russel Lucas was questioned by the commission’s counsel about whether he agreed with the intelligence directorate that the Freedom Convoy’s level of support was unprecedented.
In his response, Lucas attacked the polarizing nature of vaccination mandates and other public health restrictions.
“The topic of mandates, restrictions, vaccinations is an extremely divisive topic. I’ve seen it in my own family and you see that those challenges arise and it becomes a polarizing topic of discussion.”