In a discussion between key aides in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino’s offices, Mendicino’s director of communications warned against statements that might compel Freedom Convoy organizers to “push out the crazies.”
The damning text messages were released Monday morning by the Public Order Emergency Commission. In them, Prime Minister’s Office issues and policy advisor Mary-Liz Power and Alexander Cohen of Mendicino’s office discuss ways to best exploit the “narrative” being peddled by many media outlets about “extreme” elements in the convoy.
“I think there could be an opportunity to get in on this growing narrative of the truckers,” Power wrote of the “more extreme comments (IE calling for a Jan 6 style insurrection)…getting more coverage in media.”
“I had an initial chat with my boss and he’s supportive, but wants to wait a day or two,” Cohen replied. “There’s a danger that if we come down too hard, they might push out the crazies.”
Power said it was a “fair” comment, and offered that “[G]lobal & others are working on stories, maybe we see how those land.”
Power also said that the Liberal Research Bureau, a taxpayer-funded office that supports the Liberal caucus, was researching the convoy’s “backers.”
The text exchange included several proposed talking points around which the government could craft its messaging. Included in the list was that the government “will always support the right to peaceful protest” and that “our democracy is something we need to nurture and protect every day.”
Power also included a talking point that organizers are making “concerning” comments, but added she “would need something to back this up.”
The text exchange was raised by convoy lawyer Brendan Miller in his cross-examination of former Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly.
Miller asked Sloly if this would constitute “misinformation,” which Sloly earlier testified was a persistent issue throughout the convoy protests.
“I’m sorry. I can’t really comment. There’s no context to know who these people are, what they represent, what information or influence they have,” Sloly said.
This is Day 13 of the Public Order Emergency Commission’s hearings into Trudeau’s invocation of the Emergencies Act. Convoy organizers – including Chris Barber, Tamara Lich, and Benjamin Dichter – are expected to appear as witnesses throughout the rest of the week.