HomePoliticsEmergencies Act inquiry: Key moments in Bill Blair testimony

Emergencies Act inquiry: Key moments in Bill Blair testimony

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair was the primary federal politician to take the stand earlier than the Public Order Emergency Commission this week, talking about his involvement in the federal authorities’s response to the “Freedom Convoy” protests and the choice to invoke the Emergencies Act.

Kicking off the much-anticipated part of the testimony that includes key cupboard ministers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his workers, Blair spoke about his frustrations with former Ottawa mayor Jim Watson, his interactions with the Ontario authorities, and confirmed that he was additionally not conscious of RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki’s view that not all police instruments had been used pre-invocation.

Referencing his first-hand expertise coping with main protests throughout his 31-year profession as a police officer previous to changing into a politician, Blair spoke about the way it knowledgeable his perspective and recommendation he supplied his cupboard colleagues—together with preserving feedback ‘temperate’— in this case.

Blair additionally spoke to the fee about issues with the City of Ottawa’s request for extra police assets given the shortage of a “passable” plan for the way these assets could be used, and sought to make clear what he meant when he stated police wanted to “do their job” with the instruments they’d in the course of the protests.

Ahead of his look on Monday, high CSIS officers testified, telling the fee that they suggested Trudeau that invoking the unprecedented nationwide powers have been required. You can recap the highlights from their listening to, right here.

Here’s a number of the notable issues Blair needed to say throughout his testimony.


The weekend earlier than the federal authorities determined to invoke the Emergencies Act, Blair made headlines when he got here on CTV’s Question Period and stated that the federal authorities was ready to invoke the act to see the trucker convoy protests and blockades finish, however that police have to “do their job.” 

Asked to clarify the place he was coming from when he stated this, Blair instructed the fee that it wasn’t his intention to criticize the police, it was to encourage them to make use of the instruments that have been already at their disposal.

“I’ve spent most of my life telling cops to do their job, and I’ve each confidence in them. I’m very happy with my career. I’m very happy with the women and men who try this work, and I used to be simply attempting to encourage them. We as a society wanted the police as a result of they’re the one ones empowered to take care of these public order occasions and we would have liked them to do what was required to carry it to a peaceable decision. And I used to be merely commenting that we would have liked them to do this job,” Blair stated.

For instance, he thought the Ottawa Police had an “incorrect” preliminary response.

“Based on the intelligence that they’d, I believe permitting these vans into the downtown core to ascertain themselves and develop into basically very giant barricades … I consider that was a mistake,” he stated. “It could be higher had that not occurred.”

And, when he noticed information of progress on the Ambassador Bridge blockade in Windsor, Ont., Blair texted his chief of workers Zita Astravas to say: “the police are lastly doing their job.”

Coming round to the eventual main police motion that was seen in the times following the invocation of the Emergencies Act, Blair instructed the fee that he thought the police did “a wonderful job” in clearing the convoy.


Blair was questioned on Monday about feedback he made throughout a Jan. 28 name together with his cupboard colleagues in which he stated, primarily based on notes taken, one thing to the impact of: “we have to preserve the language down.”

The tough readout of the decision, ready by Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino’s chief of workers Mike Jones, additionally famous what police have been estimating because the convoy rolled in, MPs’ safety issues and the FBI being “conscious” of the convoy.

Asked what Blair meant by the decision for calm when it got here to communication and the language used, here is what the minister stated.

“I consider all of us have a duty to do what is important to maintain the peace and I used to be involved that inflammatory language might incite a extra violent response probably, or incite others to proceed to come back to the protest,” Blair stated. “And so I believe one wants to take care of—and I’ve had some expertise in this— in your language round an occasion to talk of it in such a approach as to not irritate it.”

He then went on to elaborate: “I consider in my expertise generally folks reside all the way down to your expectations, and so one would need to watch out in in the way you converse of those occasions. I additionally fairly frankly I’m at all times involved about concern. I believe concern is likely one of the biggest enemies of public security and I believe if our language is intemperate, we will make folks fairly fearful. And if persons are fearful, then they do not use public area. They do not have interaction with their neighbours, it will possibly really create a extra harmful state of affairs. And so my recommendation to colleagues was that we might stay temperate in our language.”


A central piece of testimony that got here to mild throughout RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki’s testimony was that the commissioner felt simply previous to the invocation of the Emergencies Act that police had “not but exhausted all accessible instruments which can be already accessible by way of the present laws.”

Lucki stated that whereas she did not carry this up instantly with cupboard, she felt it had adequately been handed alongside as a result of she talked about it in correspondence with Mendicino’s staffer Jones.

However, the fee heard later from Trudeau’s National Security and Intelligence Adviser Jody Thomas that she was additionally not conscious of this view, and that Lucki was “anticipated to supply data that’s of use to decision-makers … so if there’s helpful data or essential data it must be offered, whether or not you are on the talking record or not.”

Backing this up in his Monday testimony, Blair confirmed that he was additionally not conscious of Lucki’s view that there was nonetheless legislation enforcement instruments for use.

“I’ve clearly subsequently develop into conscious of it … however I do not I do not recall being conscious of it previous to that,” he stated.

This was one thing he additionally mentioned in his pre-interview with the fee, and in accordance with a abstract of that change, Blair stated that he felt the commissioner was “doing her job by guaranteeing that the whole lot that may very well be completed pursuant to current authorities was being completed, and that the RCMP was correctly appearing inside its current authorities.”

He added that it isn’t as much as the police to ask the federal government for extra instruments. The police have been doing their finest with the instruments they’d.


Under cross examination by the lawyer representing the core “Freedom Convoy” protesters, it got here to mild how strongly Blair felt concerning the City of Ottawa’s suggestion eleven days into the protests, that the federal authorities ought to appoint a mediator to assist finish the protests. 

At the time, in an interview on CTV Morning Live, then-Ottawa mayor Jim Watson stated that he’d urged to federal ministers {that a} mediator may very well be “an sincere dealer on either side to attempt to discover some widespread floor, if that is attainable.”

“Someone of nice stature in our group and the nation who can really open doorways and convey some peace and calm to the state of affairs,” Watson stated. “That’s one choice that I believe the federal authorities ought to pursue, as a result of proper now we’re at an entire standoff.”

The CTV News article was shared with Blair, and in an electronic mail thread he responded, writing to his chief of workers: “I do not know who’s advising Mayor Watson however it is a dangerous mistake. He has conceded with out ever utilizing the numerous instruments accessible to town. His language can also be problematic.

“This shouldn’t be a labor dispute between pursuits. It’s an illegal occupation. As lengthy as town and its police refuse to do something, no progress can be attainable.”

Asked then if that meant the federal authorities did not need to carry in a mediator to take care of the protests, Blair stated not precisely.

He instructed the fee he was involved concerning the intention of the mediation and what was being negotiated, noting that in his expertise the intent of participating with protesters, is to carry a peaceable decision to the protest.

After the convoy’s lawyer urged that the federal authorities “could not be seen to fulfill with Nazis and extremists,” Blair stated he disagrees with that characterization and that in his a few years he is by no means skilled circumstances of public order occasions the place political figures have interaction with protesters. 


One late-breaking moment got here close to the tail finish of Blair’s testimony. Under questioning by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), the minister was requested whether or not he or his federal colleagues have been feeling embarrassed about what was occurring in Canada given the worldwide consideration on the convoy.

Blair responded: “I’ve by no means indulged myself in emotions of embarrassment. I’ve bought a job to do, we now have a duty to guard Canadians … and I consider all of my colleagues have been deeply motivated by our duty to Canadians to do what was required to revive the rule of legislation and peace.”

The CCLA then known as up an undated textual content message Blair despatched to his chief of workers Astravas. According to the screenshot the minister stated:

“I’m questioning if anybody else is embarrassed that the protest on Wellington is increasing. Dozens of recent porta-pottys and a brand new stage the place they’re at the moment holding a live performance.

“I’m embarrassed for my former career. And anxious for my authorities which is being made to look very weak and ineffective. I am unable to consider that I hope that Doug Ford will save us.”

When this was put to him Blair says whereas his remarks have been “intemperate” he was very involved, occurring to record a few of what was regarding him, from folks dropping confidence in the police and the views many had that the federal authorities was answerable for the state of affairs. 



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