Emergencies Act inquiry: Highlights from convoy lawyer testimony


Testimony from key gamers within the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests is continuous in Ottawa on Wednesday, with the Public Order Emergency Commission listening to from lawyer Keith Wilson, and some of the faces of the protests: Tom Marazzo and Pat King.

Kicking off Wednesday’s public hearings into the federal authorities’s invocation of the Emergencies Act was convoy lawyer Keith Wilson, who arrived in Ottawa to offer authorized assist to key organizers together with Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, however rapidly turned a central determine, concerned in negotiations round transferring vans close to the tail finish of the protests.

Wilson constructed on the image being painted for Commissioner Paul Rouleau of the weeks-long occasion as a “very fast-moving, chaotic surroundings, with so many both interpersonal points arising between the gamers, or logistical points.”

With extra testimony forward, listed below are the highlights from Wednesday’s listening to, to date.


At varied factors in his testimony, Wilson referred to as out what he noticed as unusual characters and “hangers-on” collaborating in occasions in Ottawa, and went so far as suggesting some who had been concerned had been in it to “hijack the message” or attempt to get a bit of the tens of millions of {dollars} in donations.

“What I noticed was that completely different teams had been making an attempt to take management. And what I noticed and consider to be true is that some had been making an attempt to take management as a result of they noticed the natural, flat hierarchy, largely, of the convoy, and wished to make it extra profitable and felt they’d the organizational functionality to do this. Other teams appear to need to reshape the ‘Freedom Convoy’ into their very own occasion,” Wilson mentioned. “And I acquired the distinct impression from some others that they had been making an attempt to get their arms on what at that time was $10 million in donations.”

One instance of the “unusual individuals” the convoy attracted was a “coven of witches” that Wilson testified was “doing bizarre séance issues, and burning issues within the foyer.” He additionally talked about QAnon.

“Like moths to a flame,” Wilson mentioned. “It was a continuing effort by Ms. Lich and Mr. Barber and others to fend them off, so to talk. I do recall studying paperwork within the file the place CSIS and the RCMP had additionally intercepted communications and reached the identical conclusion, that there was a concerted effort by the mainstream group to withstand these hangers-ons.”


Wilson was requested on Wednesday about Canada Unity’s contentious and finally deserted “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) that prompt protesters might have the Senate and Gov. Gen. Mary Simon be a part of them in forming a committee to order the revocation of COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates. 

As the fee has already heard, core convoy organizers tried to distance themselves from the proposal—which later morphed right into a suggestion that protesters might type a coalition with opposition events and the involvement of Simon to unseat the federal government.

Here’s Wilson’s perspective on it:

“The very first thing that is apparent about it’s a memorandum of understanding in its easiest authorized idea requires all events to it to sign. And it was evident that the signature strains on the final web page weren’t going to be signed by the Governor General nor somebody from the Senate… When I used to be requested by the board to temporary them on it… I defined that there is solely two ways in which governments change beneath our parliamentary system. The first is when the prime minister contacts the Governor General and dissolves Parliament, and requested that the writ be dropped. The second by means of parliamentary custom is the place a bill is recognized as a confidence vote, and Parliament votes to defeat the bill… This thought {that a} sure variety of individuals might sign a doc and that will someway compel or incentivize and result in a change in authorities, I defined persistently and repeatedly, is authorized nonsense.”


Wilson—who performed a job in negotiations with the City of Ottawa to see some vans exit residential neighborhoods simply days earlier than the Emergencies Act was invoked—spoke at size on Wednesday about how the deal got here to be, and the way the convoy organizers tried to leverage the focus of vans in and round Wellington Street in entrance of Parliament Hill.

“What we had been hoping would occur is that the success that we felt we might obtain with the association and the settlement with the mayor, as a result of if it was profitable, we had been going to have had the downtown cleared out by the Wednesday however for Wellington… It would focus the protest now on the federal authorities, after which the federal authorities could be inspired by the truth that the truckers proved to be sincere brokers. And that will result in a gathering with some federal ministers,” Wilson mentioned.

“There was not a robust need to have a gathering with the prime minister. It was extra with the ministers, and that we might agree on a means of formally presenting briefs and knowledge and scientific info to assist, and comparative info as a result of Canada was an anomaly presently by way of our mandates… to try to persuade the federal government to evaluate its insurance policies.” 


Another noteworthy growth in Wednesday’s hearings was Wilson telling the fee that there have been “quite a few occasions” that the convoy’s “operation centre” would obtain info from “varied police sources.”

This testimony constructed on what he informed the fee throughout a pre-interview, that whereas he was “unaware of the sources,” the “Freedom Convoy” was “receiving leaked info from regulation enforcement.”

Wilson indicated that whereas this occurred “many occasions,” ultimately police caught on and tried to ship by means of false intel to attempt to ferret out the supply of the leaks. The fee has heard earlier testimony that the Ottawa Police Service has regarded into whether or not a few of its officers supported the protests.

During one other portion of Wilson’s testimony as he was beneath cross-examination by a federal authorities lawyer, he mentioned that round Feb. 12, protesters had been beginning to hear “rumors” that the federal authorities was considering invoking the federal Emergencies Act.

On Feb. 13, CTV News first reported that, in accordance with an interview with Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, the federal authorities was ready to invoke the Emergencies Act to see the trucker convoy protests and blockades. The extraordinary powers had been then enacted on Feb. 14.

Asked by the federal lawyer who informed the protest leaders that the federal government was contemplating utilizing the Act, Wilson mentioned he could not keep in mind. Nor did he recall any documentation he needed to again up this assertion.

“But I do keep in mind the supply that they relayed, they usually suggested that they’d heard from some MPs that there was energetic dialogue over on the Parliament concerning the prime minister contemplating utilizing the Emergencies Act. So MPs, some MPs had shared with the individuals concerned within the convoy, they usually reported that to me,” Wilson mentioned. 

More to return… 


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