There was no evidence of violence by Freedom Convoy organizers and supporters when they protested against federal COVID-19 mandates and restrictions in Ottawa earlier this year, according to security reports from an internal department of Public Safety Canada.
In a security update dated Feb. 14—the day the Liberal government invoked the Emergencies Act—the public safety department’s Government Operations Centre (GOC) characterized the Freedom Convoy protest as small, peaceful, and having little impact on federal operations.
“Approximately 10 people on Parliament Hill and approximately 100 on the surrounding streets,” reads the Feb. 14 daily security update from the GOC, obtained by Blacklock’s Reporter.
“No concerns at this time,” said an assessment by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service included in the report.
The federal government proceeded to declare a state of emergency that day, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau depicting the truckers’ protest as “illegal and dangerous” at a related press conference.
The Freedom Convoy movement began on Jan. 29 as a demonstration by truck drivers opposing the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates for cross-border travel but grew exponentially as supporters from across the country joined in to call for an end to all COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.
“Occupying streets, harassing people, breaking the law—this is not a peaceful protest,” Trudeau said on Feb. 14.
The invocation of the Emergencies Act granted the police extraordinary powers to clear out protesters from Ottawa’s downtown area and granted banks the power to freeze the accounts of convoy organizers and supporters without a court order.
‘Peaceful and Cooperative’
Daily security updates by the GOC—from the beginning of the protest to days before the escalated operations by police on Feb. 18—at no time described the Ottawa protest as dangerous or violent. The GOC’s stated role is to lead and coordinate “integrated federal response to all-hazard events of national interest.”
“The Freedom Convoy so far has been peaceful and cooperative with police,” said a Jan. 27 report.
Other daily updates on the convoy protest obtained by Blacklock’s Reporters include confirming: “no major incidents” (Jan. 29), “no violence took place” (Feb. 1), “disruption to government activities is so far minor” (Feb. 6), “there are minimal people on Parliament Hill” (Feb. 10) and “situation remains stable and planning is ongoing” (Feb. 11).
On Feb. 17, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told the House of Commons that the convoy protests were not about mandates or freedom.
“It’s about a very small, organized, and targeted group of individuals who are trying to strip away the very freedoms that we here have sworn to uphold,” he said, adding that one of the reasons to invoke the act is to deal with an “ideologically motivated operation.”
The GOC memos contradict his claim.
“Overall assessment: The majority of the events have been peaceful,” wrote staff. “Since most government employees are working remotely, the disruption to government activities is so far minor. There is currently no known end time for the demonstrations.”
The memos also contracted claims by Liberal cabinet members who said the Freedom Convoy was funded by foreign actors to undermine Canada’s democracy.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs has not observed any significant indicators of foreign state involvement related to the truckers’ convoy,” said a report included in GOC’s daily updates for Feb. 14.
An analysis of social media posts with regard to the convoy did not uncover any organized activity to subvert the country’s sovereignty.
“A significant proportion of content and engagement online is still being driven by organic activity by average users,” wrote staff.
Noé Chartier contributed to this report.