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Government considered shutting cell towers, gas stations to end convoy protest, Emergencies Act inquiry hears

The federal Privy Council Office considered shutting down cell towers and gas stations to cope with final winter’s anti-COVID-19 restrictions protests because the division grew progressively anxious concerning the police response, paperwork tabled with the Emergencies Act inquiry present.

The Public Order Emergency Commission heard from two of essentially the most senior federal public servants on Friday — Clerk of the Privy Council Janice Charette and deputy clerk Nathalie Drouin.

Both ladies additionally spoke to fee attorneys in September. A abstract of that dialog was entered into proof Friday.

“Drouin recalled that PCO considered choices as diverse as shutting down cell towers, shutting down gas stations and even deploying federal staff with business licences to take away vehicles entrenched in Ottawa,” says a abstract of that interview.

Anti-vaccine mandate protestors and their vehicles demonstrated in downtown Ottawa for greater than three weeks. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Charete and Drouin mentioned PCO — the central division that helps the prime minister and cupboard — was taking a look at a broad vary of choices to cope with the protests.

“I’d have been saying ‘all palms on deck, no thought too insane, let’s take a look at completely all the pieces,” Charette testified Friday.

PCO was turning into progressively annoyed with the police response, the interview abstract exhibits.

‘Losing hope’

Drouin “recalled dropping hope that native police forces in Ottawa and Windsor had been able to executing their operational plans as time went on and no concrete police actions materialized,” mentioned the interview abstract.

Drouin mentioned RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki usually cited the existence of police plans developed by the Ottawa Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police throughout conferences with deputy ministers.

“But over time, Commissioner Lucki grew annoyed with the dearth of motion by native police companies. This frustration was shared by Ms. Drouin and Ms. Charette, who felt that present authorities, resembling municipal bylaws as an example, had been merely not getting used to clear the protests in Ottawa,” mentioned the abstract.

Charette mentioned the necessity to respect police independence added to these tensions.

“For occasion, she recalled being stunned that the RCMP couldn’t clear protests and encampment constructions erected on federally-owned land resembling Confederation Park in Ottawa,” mentioned the interview doc. 

In that September interview, fee attorneys requested concerning the authorized threshold to invoke the Emergencies Act.

Under the legislation, cupboard should have cheap grounds to imagine a public order emergency exists — which the Act defines as one which “arises from threats to the safety of Canada which might be so critical as to be a nationwide emergency.”

The act defers to CSIS’s definition of threats — which incorporates critical violence towards individuals or property, espionage, overseas interference or an intent to overthrow the federal government by violence.

Charette and Drouin mentioned that “it was particularly the mixture of the financial and public security impacts of the protests that, of their view, constituted a public order emergency.”

‘There was public unrest:’ PCO officers 

Drouin, who earlier than coming to PCO was the deputy minister on the Justice division,  mentioned she was acquainted with the authorized opinions justice had ready. 

“The occasions had a cumulative impact. Trust and confidence in democratic establishments and the federal government’s means to do its job had been being undermined. There was public unrest,” mentioned the interview abstract.

“The risk had grown past the flexibility to end the blockades in a sustainable and sturdy method; extraordinary assets had been required to clear Windsor, which diverted the blockade to Bluewater, elevating considerations concerning the variety of assets accessible. These had been elements within the evaluation {that a} nationwide emergency existed.”

The doc mentioned PCO additionally considered the recommendation from CSIS and the RCMP that invoking the act risked additional inflaming a few of the extra excessive protesters.

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