Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said in a press conference in Calgary on Feb. 17 that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had divided Canadians with his speech and actions against the Freedom Convoy. This was despite Justice Paul Rouleau’s conclusion that the use of the Emergencies Act to clear convoy protests was justifiable. Poilievre accused the governing Liberals of using division tactics rather than focusing on important national issues. He referenced comments by Liberal MP Joël Lightbound who said on Feb. 8, 2022 that his government had made a decision to use pandemic policy “to wedge, to divide” at the time of the 2021 election. Former Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau had also said in January that vaccine mandates shouldn’t have been used as a political wedge. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland had commented in April that the pandemic was a “political opportunity”. Poilievre said this politicization led a lot of people to become “helpless and so desperate” that they took part in the protests in Ottawa in January and February of 2022. In response to a CBC reporter asking if he accepted Justice Rouleau’s findings and if he regretted “endorsing the Freedom Convoy”, Poilievre repeated his criticism of CBC’s President and CEO, Catherine Taid. Prime Minister Trudeau said at his press conference on Feb. 17 that the use of the Emergencies Act to clear convoy protests was a “last resort”, while noting that the government had met the very high threshold to use the act. He said that the Emergencies Act provided them with the tools to safely bring the illegal blockades and occupations to an end.
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