Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said he was confident he made “the right choice” when he invoked historic emergency powers to end Freedom Convoy protests against Canada’s COVID-19 mandates earlier this year.
Trudeau defended his actions in testimony before a commission charged with investigating his use of the emergency law to end the trucker protest that blocked Canada’s capital Ottawa for weeks in January and February. The prime minister said he had no choice but to call emergency powers on February 14 after believing a plan put forward by police was insufficient to end the weeks-long demonstration.
“It wasn’t that they just wanted to be heard. They wanted to be obeyed,” Trudeau said of the protesters, according to Reuters. “I am absolutely, absolutely calm and confident that I made the right choice in agreeing to the appeal.”
Trudeau invoked the emergency law for the first time in Canadian history during February’s Freedom Convoy protest in the capital, Ottawa. In doing so, he temporarily gave the federal government powers to crack down on truckers and others protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other pandemic-related restrictions, and to freeze the bank accounts of people suspected of aiding the convoy.
The emergency powers were lifted on February 23.
CANADIAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS TELL THEMSELVES AS COUNTRY PERMITS TO PERMIT EUHANASIA FOR MENTAL ILLNESS
Trudeau’s actions were highly controversial, with civil rights advocates questioning whether the circumstances of the protest required his extreme response. Lawyers for the convoy and others said Trudeau ignored a plan drawn up by Ottawa Police, arguing that the emergency powers were unnecessary to end the protest, according to Reuters.
As required by law, an independent inquiry was conducted to investigate the Prime Minister’s actions and to provide the Canadian Government with a detailed report of the findings. The report is due by February 20, 2023. Trudeau was the last witness called to testify.
During his testimony, the prime minister said the protests posed a serious threat of violence and he accused the local police of having put forward what was “not even in the broadest of characterizations a plan” to deal with the blocked roads, reported Reuters.
Additional testimony and documents obtained as part of the investigation showed that US officials had pressured the Canadian government to end the protests and lift the blockades at the US-Canada border crossings.
XI CONFRONTS TRUDEAU AT G-20, SAYS PRIVATE TALKS ‘LEAKED’ TO MEDIA: ‘UNAPPROPRIATE’
“They are very, very, very concerned,” Canadian Treasury Secretary Chrystia Freeland wrote in an email to her staff after speaking on the phone Feb. 10 with Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council political.
“If this is not resolved within the next 12 hours, all of their Northeast auto plants will be shut down,” Freeland added in her email.
CANADA’S TRUDEAU ANNOUNCES BAN ON HANDGUNS SALES AND TRANSFERS, SAYING “FEWER GUNS MEANS SAFER COMMUNITIES”
Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg contacted Canada’s Transport Secretary Omar Alghabra the same day Deese spoke to Freeland, according to the report, and Buttigieg pushed for “a plan to resolve” the border blockades.
Alghabra told the commission that Buttigieg initiated the “unusual” call.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
White House officials also reportedly contacted Trudeau’s staff before a Feb. 11 phone call between the PM and President Biden.
On that call, Trudeau reportedly informed the President that his administration had a plan to end the protests and blockades.
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.