Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland took the stand at the Emergencies Act Inquiry saying last year’s convoy movement protests posed a threat to Canada’s economic security.
Freeland says she saw the blockade at the ambassador bridge as a real escalation of that threat.
“I had at that moment a very profound duty to Canadians to stand up for them and… I’m surprised I’m getting emotional but…” a teary-eyed Freeland recalls the impact of a comment by an American investor, relayed to her by the head of a Canadian bank during last year’s convoy movement protests and blockade of the ambassador bridge.
“We were being called a ‘joke’ by people. I had one investor say ‘I won’t invest another red cent in your banana republic in Canada.'”
Documents from Thursday’s inquiry show the comments were made during a call on Feb. 13, 2021, just one day before the Trudeau government declared an emergency under the Emergencies Act.
The call was between Freeland and all of Canada’s bank CEOs who warned her our nation’s reputation was at risk.
“I sort of said… what I was trying to do was rally the bank CEOs… like don’t let those guys say to you that ‘Canada is a banana republic’ we’re a great country,” Freeland said.
The inquiry heard that the White House’s top economic advisor told Freeland just days before that all northeastern U.S. car plants would shut down within 12 hours if the blockade wasn’t ended, sparking serious concerns for her about the Canadian auto sector being cut out of the U.S. economy in the near and long term.
Freeland drew a direct link between that threat to the economy and Canada’s national security, defending and explaining the liberals’ decision to invoke the act.
“I really do believe our security as a country is built on our economic security and if our economic security is threatened, all our security is threatened,” Freeland said.
Further explaining the decision, Freeland said she was very concerned about the potential for violence, between protesters and counter-protesters if the blockade dragged on.
After Freeland wrapped up, three of the prime minister’s top aides took the stand to begin their testimony, Katie Telford, Brian Clow, and John Brodhead.
Prime minister Justin Trudeau is expected to take the stand Friday.