Dispatch from the Front Line: All of the news everywhere all at once
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To: The News Gods
From: The Line Editors
Subject: We surrender
Seriously. Today was a hell of a week, friends. We didn’t even bother with a podcast or video this week — we just hurled ourselves into doing the reading and the writing. Enjoy what’s below. It’s our best take on all the stuff happening at once.
Justice Paul Rouleau's report on the federal government's decision to invoke the Emergencies Act was published Friday. It is thousands of pages long. We have not read it all yet. But we have tackled parts of it, with an eye to answering two questions, for ourselves and for our readers. What the hell happened last year — what went wrong? And: do we agree with Justice Rouleau's decision that that the federal government's decision to invoke the act was indeed appropriate?
We'll get to those questions, but let's say a few things first.
First: if you sat down to read the Rouleau report to find evidence for what you'd already decided, you'll find it. We believe that Justice Rouleau has written a fair and balanced report. He is clearly struggling, as we were a year ago, to accurately describe and probably even to fully perceive and understand just what "the convoy" was. Line editor Gurney, in reading Rouleau's efforts to describe how the protest was both a largely peaceful and lawful assembly and also a meeting place for radical extremists, including some dangerous ones, found himself nodding along in recognition of Rouleau's thought process. This nuance and complexity was precisely what he tried to convey from Ottawa last year.
Second: the same very much applies to political blame. There's some for everyone here, folks. The federal government comes in for less than some others, but we don't see in that any bias, but instead a recognition that none of this should have been the federal government's problem. If the convoy protests had been effectively handled by local and provincial officials, it wouldn't have been a federal issue at all. This has long been The Line's position, but we have also been critical the Trudeau government's nasty habit of seeing in moments of crisis not a threat to be defused, but instead, a wedge to be eagerly seized upon and exploited. Justice Rouleau is kinder to the Liberals than we are. Perhaps he is simply less cynical. But he did make a point of criticizing Justin Trudeau for inflammatory language, and we were glad of that.
And wouldn't ya know it:
Third: Justice Rouleau's finding that the federal government acted appropriately is more conditional and guarded than we think the overall tone of the report, and much of the attendant media coverage, suggests. We'll get into this in more detail in a minute, but we wanted this front and centre before we start doing the heavy lifting: Rouleau does indeed side with the government, but it's a pretty nuanced and cautious alignment. A win is a win, and the Liberals got their win here, but Rouleau's report isn't an endorsement of how the feds handled anything last year. It would be better for literally all of us if we tried to remember that.