A new report challenges the narrative perpetuated by the legacy media and federal politicians concerning the government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to clamp down on Freedom Convoy protesters last year.
The report, authored by lawyer Caryma Sa’d and independent journalist Elisa Hategan cites nearly 1,000 pages of internal RCMP files. The files suggest the federal government and law enforcement relied on spurious claims made by the left-wing activist Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAHN) to justify a crackdown.
Much of the report concerns convoy participant and veteran Jeremy MacKenzie and Diagolon – a controversial online community he founded.
Diagolon and its alleged presence at the Coutts border blockade was frequently mentioned by prominent Liberal government figures leading up to the decision to invoke emergency powers.
On Nov. 3, 2022, Liberal MP Arif Virani called Diagolon “an ideologically motivated extremist violence group” based on findings by the Ontario Provincial Police’s Project Hendon situation report on the Freedom Convoy which regularly cited the Canadian Anti-Hate Network’s comments in the media to substantiate its claims.
That same month, then-public safety minister Marco Mendicino also hinted at the presence of “a far-right extremist organization” at the Coutts blockade which led to the arrest of several men who were allegedly discovered with a cache of weapons.
“It could have been deadly for citizens, protesters, and officers. We need to be clear-eyed about the seriousness of these incidents and indeed several of the individuals at Coutts have strong ties to a far-right extreme organization with leaders who are in Ottawa,” said Mendicino at the time.
But according to RCMP files, there was little agreement in the federal police force when it came to some of the claims about Diagolon made by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, which were further perpetuated by the legacy media.
One RCMP document concluded that Diagolon “does not pose a criminal or national security threat.”
The RCMP’s “Diagolon Profile” from 2022 also expressed doubt about the accuracy of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network’s claims about the movement.
“The Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAHN) is cited as the main authority on the group by all mainstream media outlets; due to the fact that all information traces back to one source, triangulation and the verification of facts is almost impossible at the current time,” federal police wrote.
“Based on the information that is publicly available, it is difficult to understand how CAHN can confidently assert that Diagolon is an ‘accelerationist movement that believes a revolution is inevitable and necessary to collapse the current government system’.”
The CAHN responded to a request for comment by saying that they stood by their work on the Freedom Convoy “one hundred percent.”
“That is a very large access to information package and our work is treated as credible throughout. In this single example, one RCMP officer is only saying that they wish there was another source besides the Canadian Anti-Hate Network such as to verify our information and support our analyses,” claimed the CAHN.
“In fact, that information is easily obtainable. We can’t speak to why that particular RCMP officer didn’t try to contact us, or the co-author, or why they didn’t take the time to review MacKenzie and other Diagolon social media posts and videos, which would have answered the questions they posed in their report.”
In a statement provided to True North, MacKenzie said that he felt vindicated by the internal findings but that there continues to be a refusal to acknowledge government errors.
“I’ve maintained this position from the beginning while enduring sleights and mockery from media and public figures. Though I am not at all surprised that my supporters and I have been vindicated, I continue to be disappointed by the lack of courage in Canadian media and leadership that refuse to acknowledge this scandal for what I think are petty, childish reasons,” said MacKenzie.
Despite the lack of consensus from federal authorities, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14, 2022 giving the government and law enforcement extraordinary powers to crackdown on Freedom Convoy supporters, even going so far as to freeze their bank accounts without warrants.
The Act was invoked under the premise that there was a “public order emergency” that necessitated its use.
Other RCMP communications revealed by the report indicate that the force relied on “publicly available” information with one official linking to an article entirely based on allegations made by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network and the organization’s apparent deputy director “Elizabeth Simons,” whose identity has not been verified, Sa’d’s and Hategan’s report notes.
Additionally, the freedom of information request also revealed that the RCMP compiled a key briefing on Diagolon in just 15 minutes, categorizing it as Ideologically-Motivated Violent Extremists (IMVE) along with other groups like Three Percenters and Canada First.
“Our national security is demonstrably disturbingly compromised, assisted through Liberal government funding no less. I would hope we could put our ideological and political differences aside to recognize this in the interest of national safety. How deep are the connections between antihate and CSIS? Why were the RCMP ignored?” said MacKenzie.
“The government pursued a narrative as a vehicle to escape the grip of the trucker convoy, and disregarded the facts of the situation. It’s baffling to me that there are not numerous calls for resignations or investigations into how this could happen.”
This isn’t the first time CAHN’s credibility has been doubted. CAHN executive director Evan Balgord was grilled by Conservative MP Dane Lloyd in April 2022 for CAHN’s role in spreading misinformation about the Freedom Convoy.
In particular, Lloyd cited a false claim made by CAHN chair Bernie Farber of an antisemitic flyer allegedly discovered in Ottawa that turned out to be from a different protest in Florida.
“Can you explain why the (chair) of your organization was claiming that this photo was being circulated at the protest when in fact it was a photo from a completely different country weeks before the protest?” asked Lloyd.
“What had occurred was that somebody had reached out to us in Ottawa who said that they saw that flyer there, and they provided the photo at that moment. Bernie was not aware that the photo itself was taken from an American source,” said Balgord.
According to MacKenzie, he has been long targeted by the CAHN for his views and he is considering his options with regard to legal avenues.
“This kind of malicious targeting of ordinary Canadian citizens because of their charter protected views is horrific and must not continue,” he told True North.