Emergency law investigation gets a taste of courtroom-like exchanges on day one


When the commission began on October 13, a law professor challenged the government’s opening address, prompting a public outcry over Ottawa’s use of emergency legislation to clear motorcade protests. investigation got a taste of the back-and-forth exchanges to be expected during the commission.

Robert McKinnon, General Counsel to the Attorney General of Canada, who is representing the federal government in the investigation, said in his opening remarks that the evidence presented by the government “confirmed that the activation of the Emergency Act was a reasonable and necessary decision. will show,” he said. A precarious and urgent situation is escalating across the country. “

Referring to McKinnon’s remarks, Ryan Alford, a law professor at Lakehead University who is serving on the committee as part of the Canadian Constitutional Foundation delegation, disputes the argument in his own opening statement. rice field.

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Members of the public, the legal team and the media listen as Commissioner Paul Rouleaux delivers the opening remarks at the Public Emergency Order Commission investigation in Ottawa on October 13, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)

“Reasonable grounds are not necessarily legal grounds, let alone constitutional grounds, for assuming unprecedented and urgent powers,” Alford said.

Alford read part of the legal definition of “Threats to Canada’s securityemergency law “Activities in or associated with Canada directed at or in support of the threat or use of serious violence” as a justification for invoking this act.

Elaborating on the legal definition, Alford said it did not refer to being “in any way connected with, or associated with, or in any way connected with serious acts of violence.” “Rather, the threat or use of serious violence.”

of emergency law defines a “public order emergency” as “an emergency arising from a threat to the security of Canada and serious enough to constitute a national emergency”.

The Public Order Emergency Commission was established by the federal government to investigate the legitimacy of its use as required by the Emergency Act. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will present a report to Parliament on February 20, 2023, appointing Ontario Court of Appeals Judge Paul Rouleau to head the commission.

The law was invoked by the federal government on February 14 to wipe out motorcade protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other restrictions. It was canceled on February 23 after the protest was removed from Ottawa. The law gave law enforcement agencies extraordinary powers and allowed financial institutions to freeze the accounts of protesters and their supporters.

“Facts and Events”

The first day of the commission was devoted to Rouleau outlining what would be included in the public inquiry and hearing opening remarks from various stakeholders participating in the commission.

In his remarks, McKinnon said government witnesses would provide the “facts and events” that led to the government’s declaration of a public order emergency.

“They describe the national threats to Canada’s security. The illegal blockades, disruption and intimidation experienced by residents of Ottawa. Threats at borders and ports of entry. , and its real impact on the economic well-being of Canadians,” he said.

“Government witnesses will carefully consider all available options and outline the careful step-by-step process that led to the declaration of a public order emergency as a last resort. provide evidence of how proportionate, effective, and time-limited the measures taken to address the

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Commissioner Paul Leroux speaks during the first day of the public order emergency commission investigation hearing in Ottawa on October 13, 2022. (Adrian Wilde/Canadian Press)

The motorcade protests initially began as demonstrations by truck drivers against federal demands for mandatory vaccines, but soon turned into a wider movement supported by those opposing various COVID-19 orders and restrictions. expanded into exercise. Protesters converged in the capital in late January, and soon another convoy of protests began in other parts of the country, including at border crossings, cutting off cross-border traffic.

In Coutts, Alberta, the RCMP arrested 13 people on February 14 and seized a number of weapons near the convoy blockade site. break the blockade. ” The next day, the main organizer of the protest venue said he would end the protest because he always wanted to keep the peace. The Alberta government has said that no emergency law powers were used to quell the protests in Alberta.

The border crossing blockade at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, the most costly shutdown, disrupting the daily transport of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of goods between Canada and the United States, was lifted on February 13. I was. The day before the law was invoked.

Government officials say the use of the law is necessary to deter repeated lockdowns.

‘Not justifiable’

Brendan Miller, one of the attorneys representing Freedom Corp., an organization representing protesters who were in Ottawa in January and February, said he said:A Threat to Canada’s Security” That would justify a call to action.

“Our view is that there was absolutely no valid reason for invoking the emergency law,” he said.

The first is that it can be triggered by espionage and sabotage activities. Are you planning to hear evidence of espionage and subversive activities? The answer is no.

“Second: It may be invoked on the basis of covert or deceptive foreign influences, or foreign influences involving threats to persons. Are you going to hear the evidence on that? The answer is no. is.

“It can also be invoked based on the threat or use of serious acts of violence against persons or property. Are you going to hear evidence of violence against persons or property? The answer is no.

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A protester holds up a sign on Wellington Street during the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa on February 12, 2022. (Noé Chartier/The Epoch Times)

“Finally, it can also be invoked if there are groups or individuals seeking to subvert or overthrow the Canadian government system through violence. Would you like to hear evidence that individuals are attempting to do so? No … there was no reasonable and probable basis for exercising the emergency law, and the government did so beyond its constitutional and legislative jurisdiction.”

Christopher Diana, an attorney representing the Ontario Police Department, said that as the commission progresses, the OPP will provide details about the assistance it has provided to other police forces in various jurisdictions in dealing with the protests. I said yes. Federal and state emergency laws. He also said police already have sufficient legal recourse to deal with the protests.

“OPP has significant experience in responding to protests, blockades, and similar activities. We had ample legal authority to deal with the protests that broke,” he said.

David Migikowski, an attorney representing the Ottawa Police Department, said the police are usually prepared to deal with various protests, but they have not responded to the motorcade protests in January and February. said.

“What you hear is that this protest is unique in Canadian history and the police had little time to prepare.

The Commission proceedings are divided into two phases. The first phase, which included hearings from various witnesses as a fact-finding, concluded on his November 25th, after which he focused on policy before the commission submitted its report in February. The second stage begins.

Omid Gorachi


Omid Ghoreishi is a Toronto-based reporter for the Epoch Times.