Not surprising, but significant.
The Biden administration still remains constrained by what it can do domestically. Like the Clinton and Obama administrations, it’s pushed the limits of what is possible, domestically surveilling and prosecuting political opponents in the name of counterintelligence, pushing tech companies to suppress opposing views in the name of disinformation, but there are still a whole lot of limits. There are however none abroad.
And anyone who viewed Canada’s ruthless crackdown on the Freedom Convoy’s civil disobedience as the sort of thing leftists would love to be able to do on a large scale in America has more reason than ever to be concerned.
The inquiry is required by law as a result of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to invoke the never-before-used Emergencies Act on Feb. 14 to end the protests.
Powers under the act were used to freeze the bank accounts, ban travel to protest sites and compel trucks to tow vehicles blocking streets. The commission must determine whether the Liberal government was justified in using those measures.
Freeland told the inquiry about a Feb. 10 phone call from Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council and Biden’s top economic adviser, who expressed urgent concern about the border blockades.
“They are very, very, very worried,” Freeland wrote in an email to her staff. “If this is not sorted out in the next 12 hours, all of their northeastern car plants will shut down.”
Brian Clow, Trudeau’s deputy chief of staff, had already heard from White House officials including Juan Gonzalez, special assistant to the president and the National Security Council senior director for the Western Hemisphere.
Gonzalez wanted to connect Trudeau’s national security adviser, Jody Thomas, with officials at the Department of Homeland Security.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was also preoccupied with the border blockades. The same day Deese called Freeland, Buttigieg got hold of Transport Minister Omar Alghabra to press his counterpart for “a plan to resolve” the disruptions.
Buttigieg initiated the call, an interaction Alghabra told the commission was “unusual.”
During her testimony Thursday, Freeland told the commission the pace of the cross-border interactions during the crisis was uncharacteristically swift. Meetings that typically required advance notice and effort to arrange took place within 24 hours.
In an email to staff, Freeland noted Deese had requested daily updates — a stark signal that a “hard to get hold of” White House adviser was following closely.
Those check-ins never transpired. Four days after the Deese call and three days after Trudeau touched base with Biden, the government invoked the Emergencies Act.
Was the Biden administration really concerned about automobile industry shortages? The food and supply shortages, including fertilizer, don’t seem to have trouble this administration much.
Instead, the Biden administration threw everyone into the mix, including national security advisers to pressure the Canadian government and coordinate on a “solution”.
And it seems as if Biden had interlinked American anti-lockdown protests and Canadian ones.
After the Trudeau-Biden conversation, Clow followed up with Freeland.
“POTUS was quite constructive,” he wrote. “There was no lecturing. Biden immediately agreed this is a shared problem.”
The president reportedly alluded to trucker convoys rumored to be heading to the Super Bowl in Los Angeles, as well as for the streets of Washington.
Clow’s text said Trudeau spoke with the president about American influence on the Canadian blockades, including “money, people, and political/media support.”
This was not a reaction to an economic problem, but a political one. Maybe House investigations will turn it up, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Biden admin documents on the situation were littered with claims of Russian disinformation networks and national security threats. They likely initiated counterintel operations and provided the Trudeau government with a variety of information that would not have otherwise been available.
The doomsday scenario here is that Biden admin people viewed this as a trial run for suppressing dissent in America.