Just last week, Peter Sloly insisted he wasn’t going to quit. Late yesterday, however, the police chief of Canada’s capital city walked off the job after demanding almost 2000 more officers to deal with the trucker protest that has turned into a nightmare for Justin Trudeau.

The question is whether Sloly quit in protest of Trudeau’s unprecedented peacetime invocation of the Emergencies Act to force an end to the protest — or Trudeau’s refusal to back up that tough talk. Either way, it spells trouble for the beleaguered prime minister:

Last week, Sloly said he had no plans to resign.

“I came here to do a job and I’m going to get that job done all the way through,” he said on Monday. …

In the midst of the crisis as the trucker convoy was refusing to budge, Sloly told people around him that he was trying to avoid bloodshed like the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

He firmly believed it was a success that there was no major violence, and that if it escalated the situation could cost police officers and protesters their lives.

Sloly has spent the last week asking for reinforcements, saying last Monday he needed 1,800 more police personnel to end the protest.

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that he did not “accept the contention that the city of Ottawa has exhausted its tools and resources.”

Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Monday, granting law enforcement increased powers to end the demonstration and others like it across Canada.

Trudeau invoked the rarely-used act yesterday, and within hours Sloly had resigned. That timing does not seem coincidental, and if not, its meaning could go either way. Sloly apparently wanted to get a more cooperative engagement with the protesters to scale down the rancor and perhaps allow for traffic to flow. That didn’t appear to be working, however, even if Sloly considered a lack of violence a measure of success in and of itself. With that in mind, Sloly may have decided that Trudeau’s escalation was a bridge too far for him, pun fully intended, and that he wanted no part of a full assault on what had been peaceful-if-obstructive protesters.

It could be that Sloly was willing to go along with Trudeau, as long as the PM provided Sloly enough resources. It does seem odd that not only was Trudeau willing to escalate the situation rhetorically with his invocation of the Emergencies Act, but that at the same time Trudeau balked at providing resources to perhaps avoid that with more robust police pressure behind Sloly’s diplomatic efforts. It left Sloly in the worst of all worlds — shorthanded as a confrontation escalated into a potential violent clash.

Trudeau’s government is already spinning it as an admission of failure from Sloly, according to the New York Post:

A Canadian federal government official told the Associated Press anonymously that the Police Chief Peter Sloly’s resignation is due to his terrible handling of the protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, which left many in the city and country wondering why police hadn’t done more to intervene.

This seems like a very foolish attempt to pre-empt Sloly, and one that will almost certainly backfire on Trudeau. If Sloly resigned over any opposition to Trudeau’s handling of it, you can bet that Sloly won’t remain quiet about it while Trudeau’s office tries to blame him for the political crisis that Trudeau’s government created with its heavy-handed mandates and response to the protest. Not to mention Trudeau’s utter hypocrisy on this question, a point Sloly would certainly raise if forced to defend himself against Trudeau’s spin attempts.

A press briefing is scheduled in the next hour to discuss Sloly’s departure. We’ll update as developments warrant, but all of this makes the Trudeau government look disorganized and reactive, if not outright reactionary. Canada’s parliament will need to demand some answers, and should call a vote of confidence soon to determine whether elected representatives actually support Trudeau’s escalation and peacetime invocation of war powers to deal with a non-violent protest.

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