Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Justice Minister David Lametti discussed using military tanks to end the freedom protest just days after it began, text messages released in the Public Order Emergency Commission (POEC) reveal.
Lametti was asked about the texts while testifying at the POEC on Wednesday.
On Feb. 2, during the first week of the Freedom Convoy protest, the justice minister texted Mendicino about how to end the convoy.
“You need to get the police to move. And the [Canadian Armed Forces] if necessary. Too many people are being seriously adversely impacted by what is an occupation,” Lametti wrote.
“How many tanks are you asking for,” Mendicino responded.
“I just wanna ask Anita how many we’ve got on hand,” he said, referring to the National Defense Minister Anita Anand.
“I reckon one will do!” Lametti replied.
When asked about the texts, Lametti told the commission he was joking about using tanks to remove freedom demonstrators, calling it “banter.”
Critics were quick to draw comparisons to the Chinese Communist Party’s move to deploy tanks against its citizens during the Tiananmen Square massacre, in which the government murdered citizens protesting for freedom.
“No biggie. Just a couple of taxpayer funded maniacs, the public safety minister and the attorney general, considering going full maple syrup Tiananmen Square because of some hot tubs and a traffic jam. (Only 4 days into the convoy),” tweeted Rebel News reporter Sheila Gunn Reid.
Other texts showed that Lametti called then-Chief of Ottawa Police Sloly “incompetent.” Sloly resigned in mid-February over dissatisfaction with his handling of the Freedom Convoy protests, with had then been planted in the downtown core for weeks.
Ministers also expressed concern for non-white protesters when determining their response. Lametti told the commission the concern arose over systemic racism.