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Trudeau, cabinet ministers making highly anticipated appearances at Emergencies Act inquiry this week

The Emergencies Act inquiry enters its ultimate week in the present day, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and key cabinet ministers set to reply questions on their choice to invoke the never-before-used legislation final winter to take care of large protests in opposition to pandemic measures.

Today, the Public Order Emergency Commission inquiry is anticipated to hear from David Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, and different CSIS officers. Trudeau is anticipated to seem earlier than the inquiry on Friday.

Documents already entered into proof present Vigneault did not consider the self-styled Freedom Convoy constituted a risk to nationwide safety based on the definition in CSIS’s enabling legislation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his technique to an announcement in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

As the week goes on, the fee can also be anticipated to hear from:

  • Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair.
  • Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.
  • Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.
  • Justice Minister David Lametti.
  • Defence Minister Anita Anand.
  • Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.
  • Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.
  • Prime Minister’s Office staffers Katie Telford, Brian Clow and John Brodhead.

Trudeau has defended the choice to invoke the Emergencies Act, calling it a “measure of final resort.”

Here is what the fee has heard thus far.

Testimony describes police dysfunction

The first two weeks of the fee targeted on the police response to the protest. Multiple officers from the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) described chaos and confusion in Ottawa after protesters arrived the primary weekend and parked large rigs and different automobiles on downtown streets.

Despite receiving a number of early warnings, Peter Sloly — OPS chief throughout the protests — informed the fee that even in “hindsight,” he does not assume the intelligence he was getting earlier than the protest convoy rolled into city steered that protesters would dig in and stay.

The fee has heard how OPP despatched the Ottawa police intelligence stories warning of “fringe ideologies” lively inside the protest motion and noting that organizers didn’t have an exit technique to finish the protest.

A man in a suit speaks into a microphone.
Former Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly seems for his second day of testimony at the Public Order Emergency Commission in Ottawa on Oct. 31, 2022. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Still, the Ottawa police deliberate for the protesters to remain for just one weekend. Instead, they stayed for almost a month.

“I believe we have been floundering a bit of bit when it comes to our staffing, when it comes to our skill to essentially take stock of what was happening after which transfer ahead and give you a plan to get out of it,” Patricia Ferguson, performing deputy chief of the OPS, informed the fee inquiry. (Sloly resigned as Ottawa’s police chief in mid-February.)

Both OPP and RCMP officers have testified that they’d no thought how OPS deliberate to finish the demonstrations.

“We could not learn their minds as to what their plan was as a result of there was no plan,” mentioned Supt. Craig Abrams of the OPP.

Trudeau’s nationwide safety adviser Jody Thomas additionally testified concerning the actions of the nation’s high Mountie.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki informed the fee inquiry that on the eve of the federal authorities invoking the Emergencies Act, she informed Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino’s chief of workers that she felt police had not exhausted all authorized instruments to finish the protest.

But Thomas mentioned Lucki didn’t move that info on throughout a gathering with senior officers on Feb. 13.

“If there may be helpful or essential info, it must be supplied, whether or not you might be on the talking record or not,” mentioned Thomas.

Thomas additionally mentioned Lucki by no means gave discover to the federal cabinet that police had firmed up an operational plan to finish the blockades.

“I do not recall cabinet being knowledgeable of that,” she mentioned. “We had been informed there was a plan a number of occasions.”

Disputes between Ontario and the federal authorities

The fee additionally has heard of friction between the Ontario and federal governments over the best way to handle the protests in Ottawa and the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont.

The Emergencies Act is simply alleged to be invoked when a nationwide emergency “can’t be successfully handled below some other legislation of Canada.”

The inquiry heard that in a Feb. 8 personal name with then-Ottawa mayor Jim Watson, Trudeau accused Ontario Premier Doug Ford of hiding from his tasks throughout the Freedom Convoy protests.

WATCH | What did the Emergencies Act inquiry study final week? 

What did the Emergencies Act inquiry study this week?

National safety professional Stephanie Carvin and nationwide safety legislation professional Leah West supply their insights on what the fee heard from high officers because it investigates the federal authorities’s use of the Emergencies Act.

“Doug Ford has been hiding from his duty on it for political causes, as you highlighted,” Trudeau mentioned based on a readout of the decision, which isn’t a precise transcript of the dialog.

“Important we do not allow them to get away from that.”

Just a few weeks later, the fee heard from a senior Ontario authorities bureaucrat who alleged the federal authorities was making an attempt to drive the province to take the lead on ending the blockades.

Mario Di Tommaso, Ontario’s deputy solicitor common, informed the inquiry a couple of assembly throughout which Thomas requested whether or not the provincial authorities would take a extra lively function within the Ottawa protests in the event that they have been taking place in Kingston, Ont.

A politician speaks at a lectern in front of a blue corporate backdrop while another listens behind him.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford seems to be on as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a query at Nokia’s Canadian headquarters on Oct. 17, 2022 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

“This query was all about, from my notion, the federal authorities wanting to clean its arms of this total factor,” Di Tommaso mentioned.

Ford has mentioned he supported the federal authorities’s choice to invoke the Act. 

What is a nationwide safety risk?

During her look earlier than the inquiry, Thomas mentioned the brink for invoking the Emergencies Act ought to be modified.

To deploy the Emergencies Act, cabinet will need to have affordable grounds to consider a public order emergency exists — which the Act defines as one which “arises from threats to the safety of Canada which can be so severe as to be a nationwide emergency.”

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

Thomas and different officers informed the fee that safety threats have developed within the 40 years since the Emergencies Act was launched.

Police implement an injunction in opposition to protesters in Ottawa on Feb. 19, 2022. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Documents tabled earlier than the inquiry say Thomas informed the Public Order Emergency Commission “it was the totality of the circumstances that led to what she thought of to be the existence of a risk to the safety of Canada, and due to this fact, [a] public order emergency.”

What occurs subsequent

The fee started listening to testimony in mid-October and wraps up on Friday. The inquiry will then transfer right into a coverage part, throughout which it’s going to host roundtables and listen to from consultants and coverage makers on points associated to its mandate.

Commissioner Paul Rouleau’s ultimate report have to be tabled in Parliament by Feb. 20.

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