PMO staff say Bergen privately acknowledged concerns over engaging with protesters | CBC News

Staff at the Prime Minister’s Office suggest that Candice Bergen, the former Conservative interim leader was privately aware of concerns about engaging in Freedom Convoy protesters last Winter while publicly urging him to listen — something Bergen denies.

The public inquiry into the decision of the federal government to invoke the Emergencies Act on February 14 released a summary of interviews with Justin Trudeau’s top aides.

According to the document, Trudeau’s chief staff, Katie Telford asked Bergen if she could help. The two leaders also discussed reaching out for protesters in a February 3 telephone call.

“Ms. Telford also stated that Ms. Bergen admitted that she had significant concerns about who the federal government could interact with and setting bad precedents,” the summary read.

This conversation took place on Bergen’s first day as a job. She publicly challenged Trudeau’s government in House of Commons for not offering an olive branch to protesters.

During question time, she claimed that the prime minister should come up with a plan for making protesters feel heard. Instead, she said to MPs that Trudeau was “threatening Canadians” with additional vaccine mandates.

Bergen, for her part, said that she has a different memory of the February 3 conversation with Trudeau. She claimed that the prime minister called her to congratulate and discuss many things.

Bergen sent an email to say that he had asked Bergen if he would be open to reaching out to extend an olive branch to those who had arrived in Ottawa. He said that he didn’t want to create a precedent by speaking to demonstrators in this manner.

According to the document, federal officials thought possible engagement with protestors “more than once” as an option to end the blockade.

Former Conservative interim leader Candice Bergen denied the PMO staff members’ account of her Feb. 3 phone call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Telford said Thursday that the government did not support this option.

She said, “There were too many unanswered queries.”

“There wasn’t any clarity about who would be part of the discussion and what the outcome would look like.

Trudeau’s senior staff members appeared at the second-last day’s public hearings by the commission. The hearings are probing the federal government’s decision to invoke Emergencies Act as a response to protests in Ottawa that have gridlocked the city and blocked the Canada-U.S. Border.


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