US concerns about convoy blockade meant “dangerous moment for Canada,” Freeland tells research


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As Treasury Secretary Chrystia Freeland says, Brian Dees is a tough man to get hold of.

So when U.S. President Joe Biden’s senior economic adviser asked her on Feb. 10 to talk to her about the ongoing border blockade, Freeland said, she knew the stakes were high.

It was a dangerous time for Canada, I thought, the deputy prime minister testified Thursday ahead of the Emergency Act investigation.

That one conversation was an important conversation for me. And it was a moment where I realized as a country that somehow we had to find a way to put an end to this.

Freeland will appear before the Public Order Emergency Commission, which is reviewing the government’s decision to invoke the Emergency Situations Act on Feb. 14 to quell protests against public health measures in Ottawa and prevent border blockades.

In early 2022, protesters blocked border crossings across the Pacific Highway at several points in Windsor, Ontario, the small town of Coates, Alta., Emerson, Maine, and Surrey, BC.

Freeland said he knew after his phone call with Deese, the director of the US president’s National Economic Council, that the blockades caused an amber light to flash south of the border regarding the vulnerability of the supply chain with Canada.

He said he is concerned that blockades will tip the balance in favor of Democrats and Republicans who favor protectionist trade policies.

It wasn’t just an instant loss, it wasn’t just an instant loss. It wasn’t, “Oh, you know, this factory is losing four days of work,” Freeland said Thursday.

The danger was that as a country we were damaging our trade relationship with the United States for a long time and possibly irreparably.

The government cited threats to Canada’s economic security (new window) when it invoked the Emergency Act last winter.

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look | Deputy Prime Minister explains discussion with White House official

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Deputy Prime Minister explains text conversation with White House official

4 hours ago Duration 3:13 Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told inquiries that she and White House economics director Brian Dees discussed how to temporarily not feel the trade damage caused by the self-proclaimed “Freedom Convoy.”

Transport Canada estimates that the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, a major trade corridor, has halted an estimated $2.3 billion worth of trade.

The committee has already learned that during the protests against the convoy, the federal government was trying to persuade the United States to scrap a plan that would exclude electric vehicles assembled in Canada from a proposed consumer tax credit, which would give companies that produce electric cars benefits. to get . On American soil.

Freeland called it life or death for the Canadian auto industry.

It would have been a disaster for us, Freeland said, describing what she said would have happened had the Biden administration not extended the tax credit to electric vehicles produced across North America.

CEO warns Canada should be seen as a ‘joke’

In a telephone conversation with the CEO of a Canadian bank, Freeland was told repeatedly that Canada’s international reputation was in jeopardy.

A readout of the Feb. 13 call was entered as evidence on Wednesday.

A person on the call, whose name was redacted in a document provided to the committee, said Canada had been labeled a joke by US investors.

I had an investor say, “I will not invest another cent in your Banana Republic in Canada,” the speaker said. This adds to the already difficult investment outlook.

look | Freeland says US incentives for electric cars and batteries would have been “a disaster” for Canada

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Freeland says US incentives for electric cars and batteries would have been “a disaster” for Canada

4 hours ago Duration 0:51During testimony at the Emergency Act investigation, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland discussed integrated supply chains between Canada and the US, saying incentives to encourage US-made electric vehicles and batteries were bad for the Canadian economy . Will be

Another speaker expressed concern about the government’s plan to remove barriers.

I am deeply concerned that the banking system is seen as a political weapon of the government, said the company executive, whose name was also redacted.

We cannot politicize banks.

Speakers also questioned Canada’s relatively strict pandemic measures, which were among the strictest in the OECD at the time.

Freeland assured the speakers during the conversation that she would take the necessary action and said all options were on the table.

“I am determined to end this occupation of our democracy,” he said.

Freeland feared that Canada would be “discredited” as an ally of Ukraine

Later that evening there would be a cabinet meeting to discuss the invocation of the Emergency Act. Freeland said that between the call and the cabinet meeting with the bank executives, there was a meeting to discuss intelligence that Russia was planning to invade Ukraine. Russian troops left on February 24.

In an interview with lawyers for the commission in September, Freeland said he feared the protests would affect Canada’s response to the war. A summary of that interview was entered as evidence on Thursday.

The summary document states that Freeland also pointed out that if Russia had invaded Ukraine, even if the Canadian capital had been taken, Canada should be fully supported as an ally in support of Ukraine in such a situation. Will be slandered in some way.

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The Russian media would have been focused 24/7 on what was happening in Canada, which would have made Canada very weak when it was supposed to be strong. In addition, it would have been very difficult to act after an invasion.

Minister gets questions about frozen accounts

Freeland also questioned the decision to give authorities emergency powers to freeze the finances of those involved in the protests.

Figures presented to the inquiry last week suggested that about $8 million in assets in about 280 bank accounts had been frozen due to the emergency measures.

Freeland defended the move, saying the government wanted the protests to end peacefully and that the economic measures provided an incentive to leave the protest areas.

I actually said, ‘We really need to do something, do something.’ And I remember a colleague telling me, “My nightmare is blood on a child’s face.” And I remember that very clearly. Because I was worried about him, she said.

Last week, Brendan Miller — an attorney for some of the protest organizers — argued in cross-examination that the account freezing order was an act of overreach and that fundraising on crowdfunding platforms violated Canada’s right to freedom of expression.

Several of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s staff will also testify on Thursday, including his chief of staff, Katie Telford. He will be joined by Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Clough and John Brodhead, Trudeau’s director of policy.

The three staffers will provide a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Prime Minister’s Office and question the deliberations made in invoking the emergency law.

Kathryn Tunney (new window), Ben Andrews (new window) CBC News




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