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CSIS didn’t feel convoy protests constituted a national security threat under the law: documents

Canada’s intelligence company didn’t consider the self-styled Freedom Convoy constituted a threat to national security under its enabling laws, in line with a doc previewed as a part of the Emergencies Act inquiry Monday. 

Like all witnesses showing earlier than the Public Order Emergency Commission, David Vigneault, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), sat for an interview with the inquiry’s legal professionals over the summer time.

A abstract of that dialog was shared with journalists Monday.

“Mr. Vigneault said that at no level did the service assess that the protests in Ottawa or elsewhere [those referred to as the “Freedom Convoy” and related protests and blockades in January-February 2022] constituted a threat to security of Canada as outlined by part 2 of the CSIS Act and that CSIS can’t examine actively constituting lawful protest,” reads the doc.

The CSIS Act defines “threats to the security of Canada” as:

  • Espionage or sabotage that’s towards Canada or is detrimental to the pursuits of Canada, or actions directed towards or in assist of such espionage or sabotage.
  • Foreign influenced actions inside or regarding Canada which can be detrimental to the pursuits of Canada and are clandestine or misleading, or contain a threat to any individual.
  • Activities inside or regarding Canada directed towards, or in assist of, the threat or use of acts of great violence towards individuals or property for the function of attaining a political, non secular or ideological goal inside Canada or a overseas state.
  • Activities directed towards undermining by covert illegal acts, or directed towards or meant finally to result in the destruction or overthrow by violence of, the constitutionally established system of presidency in Canada.

In order to declare a public order emergency, the Emergencies Act requires that there be “an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada which can be so severe as to be a national emergency.”

The act defers to CSIS’s definition of “threats to the security of Canada.”

CSIS director David Vigneault holds a press convention on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, July 16, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Vigneault instructed the fee legal professionals he discovered the Emergencies Act cited the CSIS Act as soon as the authorities started to significantly think about invoking the laws round Feb. 10-13.

“He requested that the service put together a threat evaluation on the dangers related to the invocation of the Emergencies Act,” stated Vigneault’s interview abstract.

“He felt an obligation to obviously convey the service’s place that there didn’t exist a threat to the security of Canada as outlined by the Service’s authorized mandate.”

That evaluation confirmed CSIS felt that invoking the Emergencies Act would “impress” members of the self-styled Freedom Convoy and radicalize some towards participating in violence,

In his interview with fee legal professionals, Vigneault additionally stated that the threshold imposed by the CSIS Act could be very particular.

“For instance, the dedication that one thing could not represent a threat to national security under part 2 of the act doesn’t preclude a dedication that a national security threat under a broader definition, or from the perspective of the public, does exist,” reads the abstract of Vigneault’s interview.

Vigneault and one other CSIS official, deputy director of operations Michelle Tessier, instructed the fee in interviews that “the service had topics of investigation who confirmed curiosity or participated in the convoy.”

Lawyer Brendan Miller represents convoy protest organizers, together with Tamara Lich and Chris Barber. He raised Vigneault’s feedback as a part of his cross examination of public security officers.

“The cupboard is making that call and their interpretation of the regulation is what governs right here and the recommendation they get,” former deputy minister of Public Safety Rob Stewart stated in reply to one among Miller’s questions.

“And their resolution was, evidently, the threshold was met.”

The fee is reviewing whether or not the federal authorities was justified in its resolution to finish the protests by invoking the Emergencies Act for the first time ever. The laws gave police new powers to interrupt up final winter’s protests towards pandemic restrictions.

Vigneault instructed the fee that one among the important challenges with CSIS’s mandate to pursue ideologically motivated violent extremism (IMVE) is distinguishing between credible threats of violence which can be ideologically motivated and on-line rhetoric that’s violent or could represent hate speech.

IMVE is a broad time period utilized by CSIS to cowl extremism primarily based on numerous grievances, together with these expressed by far-right, anti-government and racist teams.

In the abstract doc, Vigneault described IMVE as a funnel — the largest a part of it covers acts and language that are “terrible however lawful,” whereas on-line and real-world actions that meet the CSIS Act threshold are discovered at the narrowest a part of the funnel.

Tessier added that CSIS just isn’t investigating the motion against pandemic public well being measures as a result of it would solely qualify as a type of IMVE if it promoted severe violence.

Vigneault and Tessier are anticipated to testify subsequent week.

Intelligence sharing issues plagued early days of protest: officers 

Earlier this morning, the fee heard of issues with how data and intelligence was gathered and shared main as much as the protest’s first weekend.

“Intelligence just isn’t an actual science. It’s not foolproof. Just as a result of you have got a piece of intelligence doesn’t suggest you have got the full image,” Dominic Rochon, former senior assistant deputy minister of the Department of Public Safety’s national security and cyber security, instructed the Public Order Emergency Commission.

“It turns into a very tough mosaic to try to pull collectively by way of pulling collectively intelligence emanating from [the Canadian Security Intelligence Service], emanating from police forces, emanating from Canada Border Services Agency.” 

Rochon stated that earlier than the convoy arrived in Ottawa, the federal division had not acquired any intelligence from CSIS or the RCMP warning it of the want to arrange for a important occasion.

Protesters towards COVID-19 restrictions used huge rigs and different automobiles to dam entry to components of Ottawa’s downtown for practically three weeks.

Both Rochon and Stewart sat with the fee for an interview in September. A abstract of their dialog was made public Monday.

“As DM Stewart stated, it’s clear that they didn’t foresee that the convoy can be as huge because it was and keep in Ottawa for so long as it did. In his view, there was a problem with data and intelligence gathering and sharing about the occasions,” stated the doc.

Rob Stewart, deputy minister of Public Safety, left, and Dominic Rochon, senior assistant deputy minister, National and Cyber Security Branch at Public Safety Canada, seem earlier than the Public Order Emergency Commission in Ottawa on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

“The CBSA [Canada Border Services Agency] and police of jurisdiction at ports of entry didn’t foresee that automobiles would arrive and park on highways, ramps and bridges, and the OPS [Ottawa Police Service] didn’t foresee that vehicles would park in downtown Ottawa for so long as they did.”

Stewart instructed the fee’s legal professionals that regulation enforcement companies — particularly the RCMP — would have been “extraordinarily reticent” to share particular intelligence about the convoy with folks at the political stage, in line with his interview.

“The convoy highlighted that there are points with the move of data from regulation enforcement to the authorities,” stated the abstract doc.

“For instance, when the threats come up from ideologically motivated violent extremism (IMVE) rhetoric on-line, Public Safety and its companies feel very under-equipped and under-prepared to assemble and share intelligence about these threats and reply to them.”

‘The state of affairs was proliferating’

Stewart instructed the fee’s legal professionals that invoking the Emergencies Act turned a actual choice round Feb. 11, earlier than the blockades at border crossings in Windsor, Ont. and Coutts, Alta. had been cleared. 

“The state of affairs was proliferating and made even worse by the commerce implications, the reputational impacts on Canada, and the IMVE [ideologically motivated violent extremism] implications,” stated his interview abstract.

WATCH | DM questions Ontario’s response to Ottawa protests in testimony

Federal deputy public security minister questions Ontario’s response to Ottawa protests in testimony

In his testimony earlier than the Emergency Act Inquiry, former Deputy Minister of Public Safety Rob Stewart says he was left questioning ‘where’s Ontario’ throughout communication about what extra wanted to be achieved to reply to Ottawa protests.

“There had been additionally issues that a few of the people participating in the convoy had been skilled security professionals and a few had been ex-military. It appeared as if native regulation enforcement couldn’t resolve it and so they had been unable to implement municipal or provincial authorities.”

Commission listening to from federal officers in last 2 weeks 

Later Monday, the fee will hear from Cindy Termorshuizen, assistant deputy minister at Global Affairs Canada, and Joe Comartin, former Canadian consul basic in Detroit. They are anticipated to mirror on how the protests affected Canada’s worldwide relationships.

Outside of Ottawa, protesters towards COVID-19 restrictions additionally blocked entry to the border crossing in Coutts, Alta. and tied up the Ambassador Bridge, each important industrial routes between Canada and the U.S.

Later in the week, the fee will hear from RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and different Mounties.

Some of Lucki’s texts together with her Ontario Provincial Police counterpart have been introduced to the fee already.

In these texts, she wrote that the federal authorities was already shedding confidence in the Ottawa police only one week into the protests.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki seems on throughout Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

“Between you and I solely, (Government of Canada) is shedding (or) misplaced confidence in OPS, we gotta get to secure motion (or) enforcement,” Lucki texted OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique.

“‘Cause in the event that they go the Emergency Measures Act, you or (I) could also be introduced into lead, not one thing I need.”

Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki (the high Mountie in Alberta), the RCMP’s head of federal policing Michael Duheme and former head of the Canada Border Services Agency John Ossowski are additionally on the witness checklist.

In its penultimate week, the fee may even hear from Jody Thomas, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national security intelligence adviser, who has publicly defended the resolution to make use of the act.

She instructed a March 10 security and defence convention that protesters had been “dug in” and “there isn’t any doubt [they] got here to overthrow the authorities.”

Jody Thomas, national security and intelligence adviser to the prime minister, arrives at the West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Witnesses rounding out the week embody:

  • Michael Keenan, deputy minister at Transport Canada.

  • Christian Dea, chief economist at Transport Canada.

  • Michael Sabia, deputy minister at the Department of Finance Canada.

  • Rhys Mendes, assistant deputy minister at the Department of Finance Canada.

  • Isabelle Jacques, assistant deputy minister at the Department of Finance Canada.

  • Jacquie Bogden, deputy secretary to the cupboard on emergency preparedness and COVID restoration.

  • Janice Charette, clerk of the Privy Council.

  • Nathalie Drouin, deputy clerk of the Privy Council 

The fee finishes listening to from witnesses on Nov. 25.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and Prime Minister Trudeau will all testify in the last week.



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