TORONTO - Marco Mendicino, Minister for Canadian Border Services and National Security is about to find himself in a very frigid place. Feel sorry for his young family. He is becoming the laughingstock of the Liberal government.
It is not entirely his fault. As the expression goes: “he is just carrying out orders”.
He became the Minister responsible for the “Freedom Convoy” and its fallout once the government decided, last February, to invoke the Emergencies Act (EA). The EA is the “successor” special powers authority to the War Measures Act (WMA). Trudeau Senior last used that WMA, in 1970, to deal with what he claimed, with some justification, was an “apprehended insurrection”.
Except there does not appear to have been anything resembling an “insurrection” other than a rowdy group of truckers and their families having street parties in the middle of winter, near Parliament Hill and violating parking regulations for non-existing traffic. Within eighteen hours of the Emergencies Act being “approved” in the House of Commons, the government revoked its decision: with a political shrug of the shoulders, “Sorry guys, we were just kidding”.
Too bad for them. The invoking of the modern War Measures Act reminded Canadians of the dark days of 1940 when the WMA was used to declare their neighbours of German, Italian and Japanese origin as Enemy Aliens and to strip them of all their rights (jobs and properties) as citizens and residents. The government only apologized to the Italian community for that in 2021, weeks before the election.
This time, the government by law, was obligated to answer within 90 days before a Parliamentary Committee as to the justification for the Emergencies Act (EA). And “the Show” began.
On February 28 Mendicino “stepped into it” when, before a House Committee, he claimed, astonishingly, that “There were Ottawans who were subjected to intimidation, harassment, threats of rape… [and we] got the advice from our law enforcement that we met the threshold (to invoke the EA).”
This is a theme picked up by the Prime Minister and repeated in the House by the Minister several times, last week: we did it because “the experts” – the national and local enforcement agencies – either “advised” or “requested” we do it.
Yet, before Committee, where witnesses are implicitly obliged to tell the truth, the RCMP Commissioner, Brenda Luckie, said no, neither she nor RCMP had made any such request. Now former Ottawa Police Chief, Peter Sloly, reiterated that not only did he not ask for, or advise the implementation of the Emergency powers, he was not aware of anyone else who might have. The EA was invoked to deal with a [parking] problem in his city.
This is serious business. Mendicino’s own Deputy Minister, Rob Stewart, could not bring himself to standing up for his Minister. When it was his turn to answer who did, or said, what he answered haltingly: my understanding is that the Minister was misunderstood. He did not say that Mendicino is mendacious because to mislead the House is a lie the Parliamentary system cannot tolerate.
The National Press and Media and viral buccaneers are joining the Opposition Conservatives in calling for his dismissal. It is a mess the prime Minister may wish to ride out at his own reputational peril.
In the pic, a flyer against Marco Mendicino in Bathurst and Lawrence (photo: Corriere Canadese)
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