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Texts show PMO and Public Safety schemed on ways to paint freedom convoy protestors as ‘extreme’

Employees at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Ministry of Public Safety discussed how to portray the Freedom Convoy as “extreme” in a text message that was displayed during the Public Order Emergency Commission.

Former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly was being cross-examined, and the Freedom Convoy’s attorney, Brendan Miller, displayed images of text messages exchanged between two employees.

The Freedom Convoy was heading towards Ottawa when Mary-Liz Power from the PMO texted Alexander Cohen from Public Safety on January 24.

Power’s text message reads, “I just had a chat with Alex from PS who had an interesting idea.”  After that, Power copied and pasted to Cohen what she had stated on their behalf to the PMO.

“As you saw in the pod goals chat, the truckers convoy and some of their more extreme comments (IE calling for J6 style insurrection) are getting more coverage in the media,” said Power. She was responding to remarks made by a few protesters, who hope that they could storm Parliament similar to the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C. last year.

Power informed the PMO that Cohen was asking Power whether Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino would be interested in talking about the risks of a similar insurrection happening in Ottawa.

“I think there could be an opportunity to get in on this growing narrative of the truckers,” Power continued. 

Power went on to say that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could make remarks about the Freedom Convoy similar to what he said following the Jan. 6 insurrection in the United States.

“Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened. Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the U.S. must be upheld — and it will be,” Trudeau said at the time.

“I think that’s fair,” Power responded. “Apparently Global and others are working on stories, maybe we see how those land.”

The “fine line to walk,” according to Power, would be to avoid giving the impression that Public Safety and the PMO were directing police operations, “which obviously is not the goal here.”

Mendicino supported the plan, but wanted to “wait a day or two,” according to Cohen’s response to the text, because “there’s a danger here that if we come down too hard, they might push out the crazies.” 

Mendicino seemed to be implying that his office wanted the Freedom Convoy’s most radical protesters to keep speaking out since doing so would make the movement as a whole easier to criticize.

“I think that’s fair,” Power responded. “Apparently Global and others are working on stories, maybe we see how those land.”

The very next day after the text conversation between Power and Cohen, on January 25, Global News posted the story, “Far-right groups hope trucker protest will be Canada’s ‘January 6th.’

On Twitter, Conservative MP Bob Zimmerman (Prince George-Peace River, B.C.) said the text messages were a “deeply troubling bit of evidence.”

Conservative MP Dan Albas (Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, B.C.) responded saying the text messages were “disturbing.”

Miller noted that the federal government started employing the “exact same narrative” on the Freedom Convoy after receiving the text messages from the two staff members. “Is that misinformation?”  Miller asked Sloly.

“I can’t really comment,” Sloly said. “There’s just not enough context to know who these people are, what they represent, what information and what influence they have.”

Mendicino and Trudeau are among some of the Liberal cabinet ministers scheduled to appear before the inquiry in November to give testimony.

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Jordan is a casual reporter for BC Rise


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