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Emergencies Act Investigation: Dramatic week ahead as Trudeau, ministers testify


OTTAWA –

The final sprint is taking place at the Public Order Emergency Committee, which has heard more than 60 witnesses over 5 weeks about the government’s response to the “Liberty Convoy” protests in winter. last.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and seven cabinet ministers will appear this week ahead of the inquiry tasked with reviewing their decision to invoke the Emergencies Act in response to weeks-long protests. spilled through downtown Ottawa and blocked several border crossings.

The head of Canada’s Security Intelligence Service and two others from the spy agency will also testify this week, along with three senior staff members from Trudeau’s office, including chief of staff Katie Telford.

Participants in the demonstrations, organized to protest against COVID-19 mandates and the Liberal government, are also expected to appear by filling seats in the viewing area. publicity of the investigation at the Canadian Library and Archives in downtown Ottawa. A large presence is expected, especially on the day of Trudeau’s hearing.

Armed with an exceptional trove of internal documents from multiple police agencies and all levels of government, the investigation heard about confusion, conflict and allegations of mismanagement by police leaders. decision to apply the law.

As for the main question of whether Prime Minister Trudeau’s cabinet was right to move forward with the legislation, many witnesses said their tools were helpful. But very few people, except for some of those closest to Trudeau, said they had pre-proposed its sweeping powers.

Questions will inevitably arise after testimony last week by Trudeau’s national security adviser, Jody Thomas, that officials were relying on a broader interpretation of what constitutes a “threat” for national security” than what is stated in the CSIS Act definition that the Emergencies Act relies on — even as she asserts both laws need to be modernized to reflect the How the threat developed.

But now it’s time to get to the heart of the matter, how much will decision-makers really say?

A government source spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly on the matter. But their testimony will be subject to the same limits as the lawyers encountered during the investigation.

Last week, investigative commissioner Paul Rouleau clarified the agreement the commission’s attorneys had reached with the federal government about what could be brought up during the deposition process.

Any “input” to cabinet members, including advice from non-ministers and information put in front of them, could be made public, he said. But discussions between ministers and what each minister said are still considered confidential documents.

Cabinet documents, private emails and text messages, and normally classified intelligence reports have all been listed as evidence, but many have been heavily redacted for reasons of credibility. cabinet, attorney-client privilege or national security reasons.


Here is a list of those called to testify this week, in the order they will appear:

David Vigneaultdirector of CSIS; Michelle Tessier, executive vice president at CSIS; and Marie-Helene Chayerexecutive director of the Center for Integrated Terrorism Assessment in CSIS: Three people are expected to appear in a panel and discuss a review that CSIS has prepared indicating protests are not constitutes a threat to national security according to the legislative definition used by the agency.

— Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair: The former Toronto police chief will likely be asked about his assessment of policing decisions made during the “Liberty Convoy” unfolding, and the stark differences in his views from the former police officer. Ottawa Minister Peter Sloly and officials in the government of Alberta.

Marco Mendicino: As minister of public safety, his portfolio includes partnerships with CSIS, RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency. He will face questions about his proposal earlier this year that police requested the Emergencies Act when they later asserted that they did not. And he could be asked about texts in which his press secretary suggested a communication strategy around the “more extreme elements” of the protest.

— Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc: His record governs federal relations with the provinces, which evidence suggests has not always been smooth sailing last winter as Ottawa grapples with how to respond to hurricanes. across the Canada-US border in Ontario and Alberta.

— Minister of Justice David Lametti: As federal attorney general, Lametti’s responses may be further restricted by attorney-client privilege. Earlier this year, he raised that legal issue several times when opening his answer at a congressional committee studying the emergency declaration.

— Defense Minister Anita Anand: Although Alberta asked for help from the Canadian Armed Forces as they handled the blockade at the border town of Coutts, the military was clearly excluded from Trudeau’s plans around the use of Dao. Emergency law, according to handwritten notes by government employees during his consultation with premiers before calling it.

— Minister of Transport Omar algebra: He will likely be asked about the economic costs of border closures, the main line of inquiry for traffic officials that emerged last week. Up to $3.9 billion in commerce has stalled as a result of the protests, according to Transport Canada’s estimates.

Chrystia Freelandfinance minister and deputy prime minister: In addition to questions arising from her senior role in the cabinet, Freeland will certainly be asked about economic regulations implemented under the Emergencies Act, which allows Financial institutions froze the protesters’ bank accounts.

Katie TelfordPrime Minister Trudeau’s chief of staff; Brian Clow, she deputy; and John Brodheaddirector of policy in the Prime Minister’s Office: Trudeau’s senior staff will appear in a panel and will face questions about the advice he received before making a decision and the amount of information he received. His office kept an eye on how the situation was going.

— Prime minister Justin Trudeau: His much-anticipated testimony will be limited to six weeks of hearings at the committee. He is ultimately responsible for the use of the Emergency Act and is the country’s leading expert on the rationale for the decision.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 20, 2022.

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