Emergency Act Investigation Ends Six Weeks of Public Hearings

A study investigating the decisions of liberal governments Emergency activity It closed its fact-finding hearings in response to weeks of “Freedom Convoy” protests last winter.

The Public Order Emergency Committee interviewed more than 75 witnesses on Friday, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and produced more than 7,000 documents in evidence over six weeks.

Commissioner Paul Rouleau, who was cheered by lawyers and the audience in an Ottawa hearing room after completing the proceedings on Friday night, said it was an “amazing feat.”

“I am particularly pleased with the fact that these hearings were generally successful,” he said.

“This is a very divisive issue that underlies this entire fleet and has grown out of it, and I hope this process will help people understand and move forward. I’m really sorry I could.”

Rouleau said he was pleased to be able to produce fact-based findings and answer the important questions the commission was mandated to explore. Why did the federal government declare a state of emergency? How did it use its power? And were those actions appropriate?

“These are, as I said at the beginning, questions that the public wants answered,” Rouleau said. “I am confident that I am now in a position to provide those answers.”

The commission faces unusual time pressure, having to deliver its report to Congress by next February, less than a year after the events the investigation was tasked with evaluating.

Lawyers for the parties to the commission, including the government, police, protesters and civil society organizations, will present brief summaries of their closing arguments on Friday, with more detailed written arguments to be submitted later.

After six weeks of testimony, federal lawyers said there was a serious threat of violence by demonstrators, that the blockade posed a threat to Canada’s economic security, and that declaring a national emergency was a reasonable decision. Clearly there was a reason.

But attorneys for Alberta and Saskatchewan say the state governments were not sufficiently consulted about special powers, and not all parties to the investigation agreed.

Lawyers for some protest organizers action constituted state violence.

“Sadly ironically, the protests in Ottawa were basically about government overreach. An attorney for Freedom Corp. said. “The government response to the protests was Emergency activity It was a further extent of power over people rather than power by people. “

Specific legal advice received by Trudeau and his Cabinet in making decisions is reserved under the Privilege of Attorneys and Clients.

However, Trudeau said in his testimony that he waived Cabinet privileges over many classified documents and other records, allowing Canadians to see some of what the government was learning during transit. rice field.

All things considered, the look behind the curtain was “virtually unprecedented,” Rouleau said.

Still, Cara Zwibel, an attorney with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said: action It is inappropriate and a “creative and privileged legal opinion” from the government is not sufficient to conclude that legal standards have been met.

Zwibel is action This was ultimately how the government appeared to be doing something about the protests that have jammed downtown Ottawa for weeks and halted trade at the Canadian and US border crossings.

“Instead of establishing clear and appropriate channels of communication, engaging in candid discussion, and instructing police in writing on strategic priorities, the government gave law enforcement the largest and most public nudge possible. she said.

“that is Emergency activity It wiped law enforcement agencies across the country of unnecessary new tools and gave them clear political mandate to use them. “

Police lawyers said it was impossible to know in advance how the demonstration would unfold, as many witnesses blamed law enforcement for not responding ahead of the lockdown, complicating the challenge posed. claimed to be

Lawyers for former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Slory, who was heavily criticized by other police leaders during the interrogation, said the Ottawa police did not have the resources to resolve the occupation and that the lack of trust in Slory was “unjustified.” said there is.

Tom Curry said, “Even with the benefit of hindsight, there’s no way police and intelligence agencies knew this would be a long-term profession.

Curry claimed that Slowly was a “selfless leader” who “carries the burden of the city and nation.”

The commission is expected to hear analysis from expert witnesses next week.

Paul Champ, an attorney representing Ottawa residents and businesses affected by the protests, said the hearing’s unfolding showed “the strength of our democracy.” The fact that protesters also attended shows that they still have faith in public institutions, which “speaks to Canada’s strength”.

Champ said the commission’s body of evidence and its findings will be studied over the next few years to gain insight into how government and police work. .”

canadian press