The occupation of downtown Ottawa by truckers who protested health restrictions for weeks last winter has had a major impact in a country unaccustomed to such social movements.
Other demonstrations were held in across the country, closing trade corridors, including the busiest international border crossing in North America.
Their eviction in February, based on the Emergency Procedures Act, ignited a major debate about public liberties.
For a clearer view, an independent commission met for six weeks in Ottawa. I listened to government officials, protesters, and other Ottawa residents struck by the constant honking of car horns and smoky diesel engines.
“It was a powder keg ready to explode. It wasn’t a family reunion,” said Peter Sloley, a former Ottawa police chief who was forced to step down during the crisis.
During the hearing of testimonies, the Commission learned that a flaw in the intelligence services and the leak of information – two events currently under investigation – have destabilized the police force.
“It was very cold and hard … but they did their best,” said Salouli in an emotional testimony.
The organizers of the “Freedom Caravan” see the picture in different way.
They clarified that the Ottawa rally was a legitimate protest against “bad” government policies and spoke of a party atmosphere with hot tubs and barbecues in front of Parliament.
“We weren’t there to disturb the citizens,” truck driver Brigitte Belton said during the hearings, “we were there to make our voices heard.”
However, the prove presented to the commission revealed that some of the organizers wanted to censure extremist members who called for a coup or spread conspiracy theories.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on Thursday again spoke out about the risks to the Canadian economy from the move, causing in particular “irreparable damage” to trade relations with the United States.
Letters between Canadian officials and reports of phone calls with the White House and bankers revealed growing frustration on all sides at the inaction from Ottawa and the provinces.
“An investor told me, ‘I’m never going to invest a cent again in Banana Republic Canada,'” said Freeland, who also holds the finance portfolio in Trudeau’s government.
The committee also learned that death threats had been made against a number of ministers, including Freeland, stating that she would be shot “with a bullet in head” for “lying about Covid-19”.
In Coates, a customs house on the US border was closed during the demonstrations and there were a group of “heavily armed individuals who were willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause,” said federal police chief Brenda Lockie.
Justin Trudeau’s appearance before the committee today, Friday, will conclude these testimonies, which amounted to around sixty.