This is the way the Freedom Convoy ends: not with a bang but a whimper.

On Friday, Justice Paul Rouleau released the long-awaited report of his Public Order Emergency Commission, one that tips the scales at five volumes and more than 2,000 pages. But those hoping it would indict the prime minister for his decision to invoke the Emergencies Act last February to clear out the protests occupying downtown Ottawa will be sorely disappointed. "I have concluded that in this case, the very high threshold for invocation was met,” Rouleau wrote.

While convoy advocates have repeatedly tried to suggest the protests were peaceful and friendly — after all, they say, there were bouncy castles and hot tubs! — Rouleau wasn’t buying it. "I do not accept the organizers' descriptions of the protest in Ottawa as lawful, calm, peaceful or something resembling a celebration," he wrote. "The bigger picture reveals that the situation in Ottawa was unsafe and chaotic."

He also didn’t accept the suggestion there was no real threat posed by the convoy’s occupation of downtown Ottawa. "In my view, there was credible and compelling information supporting a reasonable belief that the definition of a threat to the security of Canada was met," he wrote. "I have concluded that cabinet was reasonably concerned that the situation it was facing was worsening and at risk of becoming dangerous and unmanageable.”

None of this will matter to the true convoy diehards, who will simply write off his report as the work of a judge with long-standing Liberal ties. Nothing short of a full and unqualified condemnation of the prime minister — along with a directive that he resign immediately — would have satisfied them. And as I’ve written already, their movement is now beyond the reach of mere facts and evidence.

Pierre Poilievre, for his part, will find a way to pretend it never happened. He spent the duration of the inquiry hiding (wisely, it turns out) in the metaphorical bushes, and he will almost certainly stay there when it comes to this issue. Poilievre was conspicuously quiet on Twitter about the report’s release, preferring instead to focus on recent revelations of Chinese interference in the 2021 federal election. And while Justin Trudeau will surely be tempted to take a victory lap here, it’s unlikely that this moves the needle very much when it comes to his inevitable battle with Poilievre at the polls.

But if there’s one person whose fate could be materially impacted by the report, it’s Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Rouleau was unsparing in his criticism of Ford and his government, both for their unwillingness to show up during the convoy itself and their refusal to show up and testify at his inquiry last fall. “Given that the city and its police services were clearly overwhelmed, it was incumbent on the province to become visibly, publicly and wholeheartedly engaged from the outset,” Rouleau wrote. "I find the Province of Ontario's reluctance to become fully engaged in such efforts directed at resolving the situation in Ottawa troubling.”

For a premier already on the political ropes over his handling of the Greenbelt and what role his daughter’s pay-to-play “stag and doe” party may have had to do with it, this is a pounding he’s ill-prepared to take. At some point, depending on just how big this burgeoning scandal gets, Ford’s party might decide he’s more trouble than he’s worth.

Either way, his cowardice in the face of the convoy, along with his refusal to own up to it afterwards, is a reminder that provinces can’t always be counted on to defend the national interest. As such, the federal government should take Justice Rouleau up on some of his 56 recommendations, especially those suggesting the creation of a single national intelligence co-ordinator for major events that cross interprovincial borders, national standards for policing major events, and a federal department or agency that can monitor and report on what’s happening on social media.

Justice Rouleau's report is clear: the federal government was justified in using the Emergencies Act to clear out the occupation of downtown Ottawa. But the subtext is even clearer: it had to use it because Doug Ford refused to do anything to help.

It would be nice if our political leaders were able “to rise above politics and collaborate for the common good,” as Justice Rouleau wrote. And it would be nice if the Freedom Convoy leaders read the rest of his report and disseminated its conclusions to their followers. But if there’s one thing we learned during the last year, it’s that counting on people’s best behaviour is a good way to encourage their worst.

Ford has offended every Canadian who believes in peace, order and good government. Nothing but everlasting shame lies ahead for Ontarians who don't posses the character to give him what he deserves. Possibly, you can demand the freedom not to know what's good for you, but you don't have the right not to care what good for anybody else.

Agreed, but the greater shame is on the proportion of the electorate who failed to exercise their right to vote against team Ford last June knowing what this government stands for!

Amen to that

you said it. I worked during the election and it was appalling the apathy of Ontario voters. Ford was not elected at all and it is the choice of the people who did not vote.

I rarely read a newsreport of an inquiry that satisfies my sense of what I witnessed happening. this one did! Justice Rouleau was not rolled by any of the witnesses.
Yet as of today, Saturday, I have yet to hear even CBC radio say “ doug ford” in any of its coverage. Amazing to watch the media direct and misdirect attention. I cant bring myself to read The Sun or Can. Pravda ( aka N Post). as I shudder at what they will twist the report into.

CBC app featured Rouleau’s report findings and Trudeau’s response on February 17. Not sure about CBC radio but doubt it was not covered.

With all due respect to the authors, who I think write very well, the evidence does not support the notion that Doug Ford is in any way paying for his role in failing to manage the convoy, unless and until it began impacting on big industry, which is his base.

It should be obvious why Ford didn't get involved in the protection of Ottawa....Conservative politicians increasingly depend on a base they've spent years cultivating. Many of us didn't recognize that base until the Convoy fiasco. Now it has become a kind of 'willful narcolepsy' to continue acting as if the Conservative party is anywhere near has moved so far to the right that an attack dog like PP can have illusions of statesmanship,.

You aren't a statesman if you believe a crowd of the disinfected can march on the nations capital and demand a duly elected Prime Minister step down........and be met with coffee and donuts!!! If we still have a memory as Canadians, we won't mark anything anywhere near his name on a ballot.

But it will be interesting how the international conservative movement gets involved to help us forget.

Without big trucks, the event would have largely been just another protest more easily brought under control using standard crowd management techniques. Seeing 5-tonne or larger trucks parked within 50 m of the West Block where the temporary House of Commons is located reminded me of Oklahoma City, and should have sent shivers down the spine of every security official on the Hill.

After the convoy of yahoos, I can't help think that Ottawa's Wellington Street and the adjoining one-block cross streets to Sparks Street would make a great pedestrian-only official Parliamentary Precinct and feature a large square open to all. Think of Trafalgar Square. It takes only a little imagination to picture ornamental stone gates at all entry points, opened only for security, emergency and service vehicles, and commercial and residential buildings within the precinct protected by controlled access points. Most high tech and armoured structures can be quite easily disguised or fitted out as part of the heritage architecture. Meanwhile, high quality materials, fountains, public art and ornamental plantings could make the Precinct one of the most beautiful urban landscapes in the world. Why is asphalt so special adjacent to the Hill? Why is there a vacuum in urban design knowledge near Canada's Number One House, especially when the National Capital Commission is so active everywhere else in Ottawa?

The federal government should make Ottawa an offer to assume ownership of the streets closest to the Parliament buildings for all people, with the side benefit of securing them from future vehicular assaults.

Doug Ford: All lies, all the time. No responsibility, no accountability, ever.
He campaigned on lies. His private government "channel" is all lies. But only people who "watched" him in city government had a clue.
He breaks everything he touches, except for the fortunes of his buddies, and it's always someone else's fault.
And John Tory was his city-side enabler/henchman: one down, one to go.

Perhaps in order to run for public office, one should be required to be at least a highschool graduate.

"It would be nice if our political leaders could rise up and collaborate for the common good" requires a basic mutuality though and that ship sailed with the old PC's.
And you know what? We don't have to keep pretending to include their nasty asses out of nostalgia or some overweening sense of "fairness" where SURELY if we just keep setting our sterling example they will see the light. Turns out what we've mainly accomplished instead is to unleash a ton of the latent anti-intellectualism simmering out there in the majority of people for whom school wasn't exactly their thing but still recognized the relative cachet of being "smart" in that context we all grew up in. Seems hell hath no fury like those deemed to be of "average or below average intelligence." And take the fact that most elementary teachers are women (as, unavoidably, is one's demanding mother) and that more girls excel at school generally, and then lo and behold a platform appears where reading, writing and critical thinking skills aren't required to participate and give one's opinion among peers, and you've got some novel, heady stuff out of the blue, even some real vindication.
My point is that the preoccupation with fairness we have on the left has gotten out of hand when a judicial decision based on a lengthy, thorough inquiry into the "convoy" decides in favour of both PM Trudeau and the never-before-used Emergency Act but the judge still feels he has to include the caveats that "Turdeau" really shouldn't have lost his temper by calling an extreme fringe minority (cultivated relentlessly for years online) an extreme fringe minority DESPITE them parking their big rigs literally right outside his office and the seat of the federal government with "F*k TRUDEAU" (and, ignorantly, not to mention ironically, "FREEDOM") emblazoned on several of their big rigs as well as many flags FOR THREE WEEKS, AND their open acknowledgement of a "plan" to depose his government, i.e. OUR government!
But the judge also chided him for denigrating the "protesters" as people with "tinfoil hats" just because they basically saw vaccines and the "shamdemic" as a conspiracy against them. I was really quite disappointed and surprised how much Trudeau cowered and apologized so obligingly. I guess he really IS Catholic?
Not that it matters as Max said, but when such idiots have already been given an inch and taken the mile, why give them anything else at all?

Excellent point about the "preoccupation with fairness", Tris. The American-style MAGA thinking has infected the Canadian right and we have to be very careful how we deal with it. These people are impervious to reason. I saw a Global News piece on YouTube featuring Poilievre's response to the judge's report and the comments were 99% along the lines of the report being a whitewash, Trudeau is guilty of everything imaginable and "I bet Global is surprised to find us all here". They can't wait until PP is prime minister so he can fix all of the problems. They seem unaware that conservative policies have helped cause most of the problems PP is claiming he's going to solve. And, of course, he threw in his trademark opposition to the carbon tax because he must serve his masters in the oil industry.

I kind of agree with the judge chiding Trudeau for his shallow, cheap shots about the couple of scumbags with Confederate and Nazi Flags. They really weren't representative of the crowd and there was so many better ways to brand them. I would have preferred he had said something like "The Prime Minister has no obligation to meet with people intent on overthrowing the government." I really hope Trudeau isn't underestimating what he's up against

Maybe one can call a spade a spade, without resorting to insults ... and "tinfoil hats" can't help but be an insult.
But, y'know, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is a real thing.
I talk with a lot of people, in lineups, over the fence, whatever. You might be surprised at the demographic range of Ford lovers.
And there are many people who, regardless of the candidate, regardless of the issues, self-identifies as "a Conservative" ... and so always vote for any party with the word Conservative in it.
Generations of families who immigrated when Trudeau Sr. was PM, and have voted Liberal ever since because they think it was He, Himself, who Made It So.
Hint re Trudeau II: when he knows he did something "rilly rong" he always claims innocence.

Personally I'd like to see a lot more calling a spade a spade at this point, and I don't think I'm alone in that; it's the accurate part of "wokism" where we go all church lady "positive," ignoring any negative emotions, eschewing hate completely as not even being in our lexicon.
I think this contempt for us really took off after 911 when people fell all over each other to shelter all the innocent Muslims (who DIDN'T fly the planes after all) while ignoring the common shared doctrine of Islam, even going so far as to coin the term "Islamophobia" despite the ongoing, horrifying context of the purist Taliban and ISIS that still exist. This made us on the left look simple-minded at best and completely phony at worst, and yet we doubled down. Remember the election where "barbaric practices" helped sink the conservatives? That woman was a fool but she wasn't wrong; Islam with its honour killings, genital mutilation, and extreme misogyny truly own that term.
Similarly with this convoy, the core of the "protest" was malicious and dangerous-- to overthrow the government, and cloaking it as a "protest" at what the government properly did in a pandemic to protect the public from a deadly, new virus. Protesting the sky makes as much sense and anyone who was there saw the trucks, saw all those flags, saw where this was taking place, and had to know it was an echo of Jan. 6th in the States.
So insults are relative; we've lost perspective.