Emergencies Act inquiry: Provinces say they were blindsided by Act



Provincial officers in Saskatchewan and Alberta acquired a Valentine’s Day shock from the prime minister this 12 months when he known as to say he was contemplating invoking the Emergencies Act, a public inquiry heard Thursday.

Lawyers representing the 2 provinces were earlier than the Public Order Emergency Commission, which is wanting into the federal authorities’s use of emergency powers to finish to weeks of protests at border crossings and in downtown Ottawa.

“The call (on Feb. 14) was not so much about consulting, it was about telling,” stated Saskatchewan authorities lawyer Mike Morris.

“That phone call was the first time the federal government told the government of Saskatchewan that it was considering invoking the Emergencies Act and declaring a public order emergency.”

The Liberal authorities invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14, the primary time the regulation had been used because it changed the War Measures Act in 1988. The transfer quickly granted police extraordinary powers and allowed banks to freeze accounts.

Saskatchewan and Alberta say they objected to its use and consider the regulation didn’t have to be utilized throughout the nation.

Alberta’s lawyer, Mandy England, described in her opening assertion earlier than the fee how current legal guidelines and police sources efficiently ended a protest on the border in Coutts, Alta., the place a number of individuals were arrested and charged with conspiring to commit assassination after a cache of weapons, physique armour and ammunition was present in close by trailers.

“None of the powers that were created under the federal Emergencies Act were necessary, nor were any of them used in Alberta to resolve the Coutts blockade,” she stated.

The federal authorities is planning to argue the other. Robert MacKinnon, representing Justice Canada, stated the Emergencies Act was “reasonable and necessary” given the circumstances throughout the nation.

“The evidence of the government witnesses will detail the facts and events leading to the decision to declare a public order emergency,” he stated.

That determination got here after weeks of what Trudeau known as an “illegal occupation” of downtown Ottawa, and tales of frustration from individuals residing within the space, a lot of whom were essential of the police response.

Peter Sloly resigned as Ottawa’s police chief within the midst of mounting public strain in the course of the protests. His lawyer, Tom Curry, stated the previous prime cop has a listing of suggestions to stop, alleviate, reply to and get well from vital protest occasions.

David Migicovsky, authorized counsel for the Ottawa Police Service, stated there were well-established processes in place to take care of protesters, however they did not work in the course of the “Freedom Convoy.”

“The police had little time to prepare. The genesis of the protest only began a few weeks before it arrived,” he stated, including it was tough to gauge the scale of the convoy as a result of many individuals joined because it moved nearer to Ottawa.

“That could not have been predicted.”

He stated not one of the intelligence studies predicted the “level of community violence and social trauma that was inflicted on the city and its residents.”

A lawyer representing the Ontario Provincial Police stated they will present how intelligence was gathered, together with by way of a liaison crew with protesters, and shared with policing companions.

The Public Order Emergency Commission was established on April 25, and has been amassing paperwork and interviewing dozens of individuals. Six weeks of public hearings in Ottawa are deliberate.

“Uncovering the truth is an important goal,” the commissioner, Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Paul Rouleau, stated in his opening remarks.

“When difficult events occur that impact the lives of Canadians, the public has a right to know what happened.”

Rouleau stated the method of attending to the beginning of the inquiry has been “challenging.”

“Discharging my mandate is not an easy task,” he stated, later including that “timelines will be tight.”

He appealed to individuals and their authorized counsel to co-operate to make sure the info are correctly introduced to the general public, and stated inquiries are supposed to be taught from expertise and make suggestions for the long run.

“They do not make findings of criminal liability, they do not determine if individuals have committed a crime.”

Witnesses will start testifying on Friday, a listing of 65 individuals that features Trudeau, seven different cupboard members, police forces, and officers from all ranges of presidency.

The fee can even hear from central figures within the “Freedom Convoy” equivalent to Tamara Lich, Chris Barber, Pat King and James Bauder – all of whom are dealing with legal fees for his or her roles.

Lich was amongst these within the public viewing gallery Thursday.

“I’m really happy to be back here and I’m looking forward to testifying,” she stated in one in all her first public statements since being arrested for her position within the convoy.

A lawyer representing “Freedom Convoy” organizers instructed the inquiry they will argue there was no proof the regulation was mandatory to finish the protests that took over streets round Parliament Hill final winter.

“There was no reasonable and probable grounds to invoke the Emergencies Act and the government exceeded their jurisdiction, both constitutionally and legislatively, in doing so,” stated Brendan Miller.

Commission counsel introduced studies Thursday that describe dozens of protests mounted in opposition to COVID-19 public well being measures and lockdowns throughout Canada, beginning within the spring of 2020 and culminating within the convoy to Ottawa.

Police took motion in a lot of these demonstrations, and arrested or ticketed protesters who were a part of crowds of various sizes over the 2 years the pandemic dragged on.

The City of Ottawa’s auditor basic has additionally launched a overview of the native response to the convoy, and a number of other teams have initiated proceedings in Federal Court to problem the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act.

The inquiry can be distinct from the all-party parliamentary committee struck in March to overview the Emergencies Act’s use.

Both the general public inquiry and the parliamentary committee, which continues its work, are required beneath the Emergencies Act.

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Oct. 13, 2022.


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