Max Fawcett writes that we are about to discover how much the Right has been radicalized:
A public inquiry into the federal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act has been struck, and it will look into the events that led up to that precedent-making occasion. Justice Paul Rouleau, an Ontario judge who has been described as “practical” and “thoughtful” by his colleagues, will examine the “evolution and goals of the convoy and blockades, their leadership, organization and participants,” along with the role domestic and foreign funding and the spread of disinformation played in turning a protest into an illegal occupation. His report will be tabled in the House of Commons and Senate of Canada by Feb. 20, 2023.
That report should shine a crucial light on the growing influence of far-right radical movements in Canada and the degree to which they’ve infiltrated more mainstream institutions like the Conservative Party of Canada. That didn’t just start happening over the last few months, either. The Yellow Vest movement, which culminated in a convoy of its own to Ottawa, was marbled with white supremacists and far-right extremists, as National Observer’s own Caroline Orr noted in 2019. That same year, David Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told a Senate committee his agency was “more and more preoccupied” with violent right-wing extremism.
None of this seems to have registered with the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, much less with Maxime Bernier, who came within a handful of votes of becoming its leader in 2017 before breaking off to form the People’s Party of Canada. Surely, they were aware of renewed warnings in late January from the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC) that the convoy about to converge on Ottawa was filled with radical elements.
Conservatives -- like Pierre Poilievre and Candice Bergen -- danced with the leaders of the truckers' convey. Now they're trying to suggest that the inquiry is a plot to punish those devoted to freedom:
In question period Wednesday, Bergen suggested the inquiry is going to be “another chance for [the prime minister] to call innocent people racists and misogynists and accuse them of all kinds of things that are factually not true.”
What is and isn’t factually true will be up to Justice Rouleau to decide, and he’ll have plenty of leeway to do that, including the power to summon witnesses under oath and require them to provide documents. Conservatives have complained loudly that the government hasn’t (yet) waived cabinet confidentiality around internal documents related to the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act, with MP Raquel Dancho suggesting the inquiry “will be useless unless they waive cabinet confidence and allow Canadians to know the whole story.”
But as Postmedia columnist Matt Gurney wrote, we may not get to know the whole story here. “It’s very possible that the government possesses information that has not been made public for valid national security reasons, which informed its decision-making, and led cabinet to believe the Emergencies Act was warranted.”
And remember: This is happening as "Rolling Thunder" pulls into Ottawa -- some of whose members were arrested last night for defying police edicts that they could walk -- but not ride -- into the downtown core.