Emergency Situation Commission | Canada is considered a “banana republic”.
(Ottawa) Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland feared the US would respond to the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge with protectionist measures that would have a domino effect on the Canadian economy. A call from White House economic adviser Brian Deese on February 10 made that concern clear.
“They are very, very, very concerned,” the minister said by email after the conversation. “If it is not resolved by 12 noon, all car factories in the north-east of the country will be closed. »
The document was presented as evidence during the testimony of Mr.I Freeland is also the Deputy Prime Minister. This public request should determine whether the history is in use Emergency Law It was right to end the “freedom caravan” in Ottawa and blockades of border crossings in other parts of the country.
“It was a dangerous moment for Canada,” he said. Very, very dangerous. »
He added that Mr. Deese had just realized how integrated the automotive industry was in Canada and the United States. The parts needed for production cross the border several times during the production of cars.
The presidents of Canada’s big banks also feared a devastating impact on the Canadian economy and Canada’s reputation. They were calling on the federal government to end truck convoys the day before they were used Emergency Law.
On February 13, a meeting was organized between the finance ministers. The aim was to discuss solutions to end the “freedom caravan” and above all the blockage of trade corridors.
A report of that discussion, released Thursday by the Commission’s attorney general, gives some insight into the mindset of bank executives. Their names and the names of their institutions have been redacted.
One of them had just returned from the United States, where the investor had told him: “I will not invest another penny in your banana republic in Canada. »
“If the investor you’re talking about is American, tell him we’re not like the United States where people directly interfere in the legislature.”I Freeland refers to the Capitol invasion on January 6, 2021.
“Then I had to stand up for the Canadians,” he said, briefly overcome with emotion.
He explained that anxiety was at its peak then. The Canadian economy was barely recovering from the pandemic. The government was bracing for a trade war with the United States and feared that closing the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario would further fuel protectionism south of the border. President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better program was already threatening the Canadian auto industry.
The minister testified on Thursday that the Canadian government has already prepared a list of retaliatory measures that could reach $100 billion in US imports into the country if the program continues.
“We didn’t save NAFTA just to be destroyed,” Flavio Volpe, head of the Auto Parts Manufacturers Association, said on the morning of February 14. He then said he was “determined to take strong action”. MI In 2019, Freeland led the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Mexico.
On cross-examination, Allan Honner, a lawyer for the Democracy Fund group representing the protesters arrested in Ottawa and Windsor, asked if the government had used it. Emergency Law because he was “completely overwhelmed by events” and under “great pressure from the United States.”
The minister rejected this argument. “I don’t agree with that at all,” he replied.
Janani Shanmuganathan, a lawyer at the Canadian Constitution Foundation, asked him how the economic harm he described fits the legislation’s definition of a national security threat. Instead, the law addresses espionage and sabotage, foreign interference, the use of serious violence, and activities aimed at overthrowing the government, and does not address the economy.
The minister previously testified that “the weakening of a country’s economy can fundamentally harm the security of that country.” He also argued that Canada had become a “powder keg” and violent clashes between angry citizens and protesters could break out at any moment.
Ewa Krajewska, a lawyer with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, argued that in a democracy like Canada, “economic security does not take precedence over the right to protest.”