Monday, December 11, 2023
Moe takes control of the situation by placing his fingers in the nostrils of Larry and Curly. (Photo by ?? John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Guest ContributionsOpinion/ColumnTrucking

Government’s response to the Truckers’ Convoy was an unintentional comedy routine

Some days, Canadians wish government would leave comedy to the professionals. Photo: SF Chronical

by Donna Laframboise

The Freedom Convoy became a three-week standoff in the nation’s capital because the federal government contemptuously dismissed these protesters rather than talk to them. It’s now clear this contempt has seeped deep into the pores of Canada’s ruling class. Powerful, highly paid people were breathtakingly blinkered.

Let us turn our attention to Janice Charette, Clerk of the Privy Council Office, who serves as a gatekeeper to the Prime Minister and about whom I’ve written previously. She’s the country’s top civil servant. It’s her job to be a non-partisan voice of reason. When Clerk Charette testified at an Emergencies Act hearing, we learned she was center stage in the convoy drama. Indeed, she personally wrote the memo to the Prime Minister recommending he invoke this last-resort legislation.

During her testimony, she explained that by February 9th, 13 days after the first wave of trucks arrived in Ottawa,

this was a very serious situation…we had rising levels of questions from federal ministers, who were asking ‘How is this going to end? What can we do?’ [page 125 of the official transcript]

A few lines later, a dark comedy routine begins. Clerk Charette describes her message to fellow senior bureaucrats this way:

We have to leave no stone unturned. We have to make sure that we are looking at every power…every authority we have, every resource we have…I would’ve been saying all hands on deck. No idea too crazy. Let’s look at absolutely everything. Let’s look at every law we have… [bold here and elsewhere added by me, from page 126]

Leave no stone unturned. No idea is too crazy. Except, of course, the one staring everyone point blank in the face – actually talking to the protesters. Here’s Clerk Charette again, a few pages later:

my direction [to the civil service] at this meeting is go and figure this out. ‘What can we do? Be as creative as you can. Really think outside the box.’ [page 128]

She then testifies:

We knew that there had been a lot of conversations going on between our colleagues in other departments…there had been meetings going on with the City officials in Ottawa, all around to try and understand the situation. [page 132]

Information was being gathered from far and wide. The opinions of every third party under the sun were being canvassed. But conducting a firsthand conversation with the protesters themselves? Unthinkable.

Under cross-examination a few hours later, Clerk Charette once again says:

we were looking at all available instruments, all available resources, all available tools, every crazy…Anything to try to help to resolve the situation… [page 290]

Honestly. If this were a movie script it would be rejected for insulting our intelligence.


Donna Laframboise writes a daily blog at It is a first draft of her upcoming book that focuses on interviews with Freedom Convoy truckers. She is a former National Post and Toronto Star columnist, and a former Vice President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.