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International partners had concern about Canada’s ‘ability to handle’ convoy protests

The warning is contained in heavily redacted summaries of government meetings
A protester yells “freedom” towards a person who attempted to stick a paper sign on a truck criticizing the so called “Freedom Convoy,” a protest against COVID-19 measures that has grown into a broader anti-government protest, on its 18th day, in Ottawa, on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Two days before the Emergencies Act was invoked last February to quell anti-government convoy protests, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned ministers that international partners were concerned Canada wasn’t able to control the situation.

The warning is contained in heavily redacted summaries of three meetings of the government’s incident response group and one meeting of the full cabinet, which were released through the Federal Court as part of a challenge of the government’s use of the act.

A table contained in the documents shows that the weekend before invoking the act on Feb. 14, the government was weighing the consequences of using the legislation while also assessing other tools.

The meeting minutes show cabinet and senior government, military and RCMP officials were told there was the possibility of engagement with the protest leaders, and even a potential “breakthrough” in clearing the protest in Ottawa.

But the same briefings warned ministers the protesters in the capital were becoming increasingly hostile to police, and were showing a “significant escalation in boldness.”

At the border crossing in Windsor, Ont., an attempt by the Ontario government to negotiate with protesters failed, resulting in police moving in to clear the streets.

– The Canadian Press