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Top Biden administration officials pressed their Canadian counterparts to clear trucks that blocked parts of the US northern border during protests in January.
A public inquiry into the Canadian government’s decision to use emergency powers to clear “freedom convoy” protesters revealed Thursday that Washington made frantic phone calls from Ottawa in an effort to open choked supply lines.
“They are very, very, very worried,” Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote in an email to her staff on Feb. 10 after a phone call from Brian Deese, director of the White House’s National Economic Council. According to Politico.
“If this is not resolved within the next 12 hours, all of their Northeast car plants will be closed,” Freeland continued in his email.
Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg called his Canadian counterpart, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, the same day Dees Freeland called, according to reports, and Buttigieg pressed Alghabra about a “solution plan” to the Canadian protests.
Alghabra told the commission that Buttigieg initiated the call and that the interaction was “unusual.”
Brian Clough, deputy chief of staff to the Canadian prime minister, also heard from White House aides, including National Security Council director Juan Gonzalez, who wanted to link Canada’s national security officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
A phone call between President Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took place the following day, February 11, in which Trudeau informed the commander-in-chief that Ottawa planned to end the blockade.
In his call with Trudeau, Biden pointed to the Super Bowl in Los Angeles and the rumored trucker convoy threatening to disrupt the streets of Washington.
Freeland told staff in an email that Dees wanted daily updates on the protest, which never materialized because emergency legislation was invoked three days after Trudeau’s call with Biden.
Freeland told Canadian investigators that he was concerned Canada was “in the process of doing long-term and possibly irreparable damage to our trade relationship with the United States” and feared D.C. politicians “who would love any excuse to impose more protectionist measures on us.”
Border blockades between Manitoba and Detroit and Windsor were cleared before the invocation of emergency laws, the commission found.
A never-before-used Canadian law gives the government the power to freeze protesters’ bank accounts, ban travel to protest sites and force tow trucks to block roadblocks.
The commission is seeking to determine whether the government was justified in exercising emergency powers.
“Freedom Convoy” protesters were demonstrating against the Canadian Covid vaccine mandate and restrictions.
US officials pressured Canada to stop ‘freedom convoy’, new testimony reveals
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