OTTAWA — The commissioner who is to shed light on the Government of Canada’s use of the Emergencies Act to end last winter’s so-called freedom motorcade demonstration in Ottawa is granting status to organizers, the police and representatives of the three levels of government.
This decision by Justice Paul S. Rouleau of the Ontario Court of Appeal, who heads the State of Emergency Commission, means that people will be informed in advance of the information submitted in evidence before the investigation and that they will have certain privileges, such as the possibility of suggesting the presence of witnesses and of cross-examining them.
Jurisdictions granted the right to participate in the public inquiry include the governments of Canada, Alberta and Saskatchewan, the cities of Ottawa and Windsor, Ontario, the Ottawa Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police and convoy organizers including Tamara Lich, Tom Marazzo and Chris Barber.
Former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly will be permitted to produce documents, make submissions on factual, evidentiary and policy issues and question witnesses. The Manitoba government was granted permission to provide written submissions.
However, Justice Rouleau denied special status to the Conservative Party of Canada and several participants in the protests, some of whom had their bank accounts frozen under the Act.
Paul S. Rouleau says it is important that the inquiry remain an independent and non-partisan process. He recalls that there is also a special joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons on the declaration of emergency which examines the use of the powers of the law.
On February 14, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, David Lametti, with the support of his Public Safety colleagues Marco Mendicino and Bill Blair, Minister of Emergency Preparedness, announced the declaration of the state to end the disruptions, border blockades and occupation of downtown Ottawa. The declaration was revoked nine days later, on February 23.
The Emergencies Act provides for the establishment of a commission to review the circumstances leading to the declaration and the steps taken to deal with the emergency. This commission was launched on April 25 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who appointed Judge Rouleau to lead it.