Judge rules Ford, Jones immune from testifying at Emergencies Act inquiry


Ontario’s premier and a prime minister won’t need to testify at the Emergencies Act inquiry in Ottawa on account of immunity supplied to them by parliamentary privilege, a Federal Court decide dominated Monday.

Justice Simon Fothergill stated a summons issued to Premier Doug Ford and deputy premier Sylvia Jones by the Public Order Emergency Commission is legitimate, however the pair can resist the summons by invoking their parliamentary privilege.

“The summonses issued by the Commission to (Ford and Jones) are legitimate,” Fothergill wrote.

“However, as long as the Ontario Legislative Assembly stays in session, the candidates might resist the summonses by asserting parliamentary privilege and the Commission can’t take steps to implement their attendance and compel them to present proof.”

Parliamentary privilege is part of the Constitution, however has its roots within the English House of Commons. It was designed to guard the House and its members from interference from the King and the House of Lords, Canada’s House of Commons web site says. When utilized, it supplies immunity to parliamentarians from being scrutinized by courts, consultants say.

The Public Order Emergency Commission is inspecting the federal authorities’s use of the Emergencies Act to finish the so-called Freedom Convoy protests final winter in Ottawa and Windsor, Ont.

Commissioner Paul Rouleau summoned Ford and Jones to testify at the inquiry as a result of he needed to know their function within the disaster that left downtown Ottawa occupied for weeks and visitors blocked from getting into Canada at the nation’s busiest border crossing.

Ford’s workplace declined to remark after the choice got here.

At a information convention earlier Monday, Ford repeated earlier feedback that the inquiry is a federal matter, not a provincial one.

“This is a federal inquiry primarily based on the federal authorities calling for the Emergencies Act,” he stated. “This is a federal situation.”

Ford and Jones had filed an software for a judicial evaluation and sought a keep of the summons.

They argued the summons must be quashed as a result of they’re immune to testifying on account of parliamentary privilege that enables them to deal with their duties at Queen’s Park.

The commissioner had argued Ford and Jones “overstated” the extent of parliamentary privilege.

“There isn’t any blanket privilege to say no to testify; it is just a temporal privilege,” the commissioner argued in courtroom paperwork.

The Federal Court decide stated the commissioner had jurisdiction to situation the summons for Ford and Jones, which the province argued he didn’t.

“The issues in respect of which the Premier and Minister have been referred to as to testify are inside the scope of the Commissioner’s mandate, and it seems that each witnesses might have priceless proof to supply,” Fothergill wrote.

Fothergill heard the proof final week in an Ottawa courtroom.

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Nov. 7, 2022. 


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