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RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki makes her way to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, in Ottawa on Oct. 31.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki was unable to explain text messages from last winter in which she suggested the federal government would ask police for retroactive support of the Emergencies Act and advocated using a messaging app that allows users to delete messages.

The country’s top Mountie spoke with reporters outside a House of Commons committee on Monday in Ottawa but gave few answers to questions.

She will testify at the Emergencies Act inquiry on Nov. 15. Already text messages, e-mails, and meeting minutes presented to the Public Order Emergency Commission reveal discrepancies between her public and private comments about the federal government’s decision to use the sweeping powers. The documents were released last week but at the time the RCMP told The Globe and Mail they would not answer any questions until Commissioner Lucki testifies at the inquiry.

Led by Justice Paul Rouleau, the inquiry is tasked with determining whether the federal government erred in invoking the Emergencies Act in response to anti-government, anti-vaccine mandate protests. Those demonstrations began with gridlocking the capital on Jan. 28 and then spread to several border crossings in January and February.

According to the Emergencies Act, a public order emergency can be declared only when threats to the security of Canada are so serious that they constitute a national crisis that cannot be effectively dealt with under any other existing law.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the act on Feb. 14.

Public hearings on use of Emergencies Act: What to know about the commission and what’s happened so far

The police operation to clear the protests in Ottawa began on Feb. 18 and ended on Feb. 20. The texts released to the inquiry show that on Feb. 19 Commissioner Lucki told her OPP counterpart, Thomas Carrique, that the federal government could ask them for a letter supporting the use of the Emergencies Act retroactively.

“Has Minister Blair hit you up for a letter to support the EA?” she asked Commissioner Carrique.

He replied that he had not and asked if he should expect to hear from Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair. Commissioner Lucki did not answer over text and instead said she was calling Commissioner Carrique.

On Monday Commissioner Lucki told reporters she was “never” requested to write a letter. But she couldn’t explain why she sent the text to Commissioner Carrique.

“It was conversation in a text, I’m not sure,” she told reporters.

Commissioner Lucki has held the post of top Mountie since she was appointed by Mr. Trudeau in April, 2018.

The texts presented to the inquiry also reveal Ottawa was mulling the Emergencies Act early in the protests and that Commissioner Lucki didn’t want the RCMP or Ontario Provincial Police to take over from the beleaguered Ottawa police service.

The government of Canada is “losing/lost confidence” in the Ottawa police, she told Commissioner Carrique in texts on Feb. 5. “If they go to the Emergency Measures Act, you or [I] may be brought in to lead.”

That’s “not something I want,” she said on Feb. 5.

Asked about her resistance to either police force taking over, Commissioner Lucki said “That’s a misunderstanding.” But she didn’t explain further.

Commissioner Lucki also told reporters on Monday she didn’t lose confidence in then Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly. However, minutes from a Feb. 15 meeting with the OPP attribute comments to Commissioner Lucki in which she said she did “not trust his leadership.” Mr. Sloly resigned the same day.

Commissioner Lucki’s texts also show that she twice asked Commissioner Carrique about using a different messaging app that she said does “not store deleted messages.”

She walked away from reporters when she was asked if she ever deleted text messages.

In her text conversation with Commissioner Carrique, the top Mountie also floated the idea of putting Canadian Armed Forces members in RCMP uniforms and then incorporating them in the police response to the convoy.

The Emergencies Act inquiry was also presented with evidence that the day before the act was invoked, Commissioner Lucki told the government that the police had “not yet exhausted all available tools.”

Despite that Feb. 13 advice, Commissioner Lucki told a House of Commons committee on Feb. 25 that the act gave police “the tools that we needed to get the job done quickly.”

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