Dispatch from the Front Lines: Answering the big questions re: the convoy and Emergencies Act
The testimony is complete. The documents have been tabled. Let's start trying to make some sense of all of this.
Happy Saturday, Line readers. What a week it was.
After six weeks of testimony, during which we kept a close watch but studiously avoided drawing sweeping conclusions, the Public Order Emergency Commission has wrapped up its proceedings in the capital. Justice Paul Rouleau will spend the next few months reviewing the testimony and documents (many thousands of them) and will then deliver his report to both houses of Parliament no later than February, as required by the Emergencies Act.
So. What do we make of it all?
Your Line editors will also spend the coming weeks reviewing findings and considering the evidence. We don’t honestly know when we will reach a “final” conclusion. But we can at least, in good conscience, offer some preliminary thoughts.
(If you’d rather hear or see our thoughts, the video and podcast versions are available for your pleasure.)
The first thought is tangential to the crisis itself but we feel is important (and a little funny, given our own involvement). Line editor Gurney cameoed at the POEC this week when emails among staffers for Attorney General David Lametti were published. The emails were internal communications related to a media request Gurney had filed to Lametti’s team. The attorney general had been on CTV with host Evan Solomon and had made a comment that drew instant online scrutiny and ire. “If you are a member of a pro-Trump movement who is donating hundreds of thousands of dollars, and millions of dollars to this kind of thing, then you ought to be worried,” Lametti had said, in regards to bank account freezings. Gurney didn’t see the interview but he did see the online backlash and he asked Lametti’s office for clarification. Specifically, he asked for a transcript and a statement.
The internal emails released by the POEC are unremarkable except for one thing that gave us the giggles. Lametti, when approving the intended reply, commented, “Gurney won’t care about the way in which the transcript actually reads!” Clearly the AG of Canada doubts the fairness and open-minded professionalism of your Line editor!
The article we prepared in response to Lametti’s statement was absolutely critical. But Attorney General, sir? It was also fair. We offered the context of the remark you made on air. We offered the exact quote. We included your statement. And we explained why we were critical. That’s our job. We may not be friendly journalists, sir, but we are scrupulously fair, and pride ourselves on that. So of course we cared about the transcript — it's our duty to care about it. If we felt you’d been misquoted, we would have said so, as we have at other times when we felt criticisms against your government have been inaccurate, unfair or lacking in necessary nuance.
We don’t do this because we like you guys. We don’t, really, to be honest. We do it because that’s what our professional fairness demands of us. We are not unbiased or neutral but we are fair and honest — not for your sake, but because we expect and demand that of ourselves.
And you know what? We have no complaints here. Lametti’s office reviewed our request and provided us exactly what we needed. They were responsive and professionally courteous. This was, by the standards of such things, an entirely pleasant and successful transaction, and we recognize it was at a time when Lametti and his staff were under enormous personal and professional pressure. Lametti might not like or trust Gurney, but one snarky comment aside, he approved our request and gave us what we asked for.
This is how it’s supposed to work. So thank you, Mr. Lametti and staff. We appreciated your help. As we hope you'll appreciate that while we will never be your friends, we will be fair to you, without fail.
Another comment we will make: my God, is our politics broken. This is going to end in tears for all of us.
We don’t mean because Canadian governments flopped at every level during the crisis (and a bunch of other crises, too). We mean because the POEC documents and proceedings have offered a crucial insight into the men and women inside our government. They aren’t as stupid and rigid as they feel obligated to appear in public. Yet they do indeed feel so obligated! Something has clearly gone very wrong here, and it's not getting better.