Convoy Blockades Cost Canadian Economy Billions in Reduced GDP, Documents Say

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet invoked the law on February 14 for the first time in Canadian history as a means to resolve several highly disruptive lockdowns by people who were primarily opposed to COVID-related restrictions.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Newly revealed cabinet documents show that Ottawa produced an internal estimate in February of the impact of nationwide lockdowns on GDP, figures that Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland did not provide when asked during a committee hearing in June on the use of the Emergencies Law by the government.

Minutes of a cabinet-level meeting attended by Ms Freeland that took place the day before the government invoked the law show ministers were told the lockdowns were causing 0.1% economic losses. at 0.2% of GDP per week.

Canada’s GDP is about $2.6 trillion, which means the estimate showed the Canadian economy was losing between $2.6 billion and $5.2 billion per week. The source of that economic estimate is unclear due to the length of the redactions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet invoked the law on February 14 for the first time in Canadian history as a means to resolve several highly disruptive lockdowns by people who were primarily opposed to COVID-related restrictions.

A package of highly redacted cabinet-level documents was made public this week in Federal Court as part of a legal challenge seeking judicial review of the government’s use of the law. The documents included the disclosure that the prime minister’s national security adviser, Jody Thomas, told the full cabinet on the night of February 13 that there was a possibility of a breakthrough with the protesters who had blocked the streets of downtown Ottawa. for weeks.

Trudeau government invoked Emergencies Act despite ‘potential for a breakthrough’ with convoy protesters, documents show

The Liberal government will publish cabinet documents for the investigation of the Emergencies Law

A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said this week that the groundbreaking comment referred to talks that had taken place at the time between protesters and the city of Ottawa. However, the federal government concluded that those talks would not be successful.

Invoking the Emergencies Law triggers a legal requirement for a special joint committee of parliamentarians and senators to hold hearings and review whether the government’s decision to use special powers was appropriate.

In May, the committee heard from two senior Finance Canada officials: Assistant Deputy Minister Isabelle Jacques and CEO Julien Brazeau. In response to questions from the MP, both said that the department may have produced some economic impact analysis of the blockades, but neither of them knew for sure or had seen such information.

“I did not receive at that time, certainly no number, regarding that,” Ms. Jacques told the committee.

Conservative MP Glen Motz then followed up directly with the minister at a committee meeting on June 14 with a series of questions about what, if any, economic assessments were produced.

Ms. Freeland responded by discussing the concerns that business leaders were expressing at the time, but did not provide any national GDP impact figures.

She provided an opening statement to the committee that included Statistics Canada estimates of the daily trade effects caused by lockdowns in Alberta, Manitoba and at the Ambassador Bridge in Ontario.

“I personally had many conversations and read many reports that made me very concerned about the economic consequences of the illegal blockades and occupation,” he replied to Mr. Motz. “I spoke directly with Canadian business leaders, who told me they were hearing from investors that their confidence in Canada, as an investment destination, had taken a hit.”

Later in the hearing, NDP MP Matthew Green took up the same line of questioning: “I need to know if the government had, within your department, within your department, your ministry, facts that meant the economic impacts of occupation were significant. enough,” he said. “I’m going to ask you the question directly: What were the economic impacts of the occupation and were they significant enough to meet the threshold of a national security threat, under section 2 of the CSIS Act?”

When Ms. Freeland responded again with general comments about the economic impact, Mr. Green chimed in, “Can you quantify it?”

“I had many conversations with Canadian business leaders,” she replied.

“That’s not good enough,” Mr. Green replied.

In an interview on Friday, Green said the failure to reveal the figures sooner is part of a pattern of obstruction by the Liberal government.

“In fact, I think it’s outrageous that these numbers have been around all along,” he said.

Conservative MP and critic of emergency preparedness Dane Lloyd said in a statement that the government has not been completely honest with Canadians about its decision to invoke the law.

“It is concerning that the Liberal government has not been forthright with Canadians about the existing economic impact,” he said. “It is clear that the Liberal government was more interested in dividing, coining, stigmatizing and insulting Canadians, rather than seeking a solution using existing powers and practices.”

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