Emergence law survey: what was said on day 1?

The public hearings of the Public Order Emergency Commission into the federal government’s use of the Emergency Measures Act last winter began Oct. 13 with introductory remarks from various parties who obtained the right to participate in the proceedings, allowing all parties to essentially present their opening arguments.

Federal officials explaining why they believe the nationwide inquiry into the government’s invocation of unprecedented powers through the Emergencies Act will find its use was justified, to lawyers for central protest organizers “Freedom Convoy” asserting that the government has exceeded its jurisdiction, here are the key positions presented on the first day by the central actors of the commission:


“It is important for Canadians to understand the unprecedented critical situation the country faced earlier this year. The evidence will show that invoking the Emergencies Act was a reasonable and necessary decision given the escalating volatile and urgent circumstances across the country…Government witnesses will describe the deliberate step-by-step process in which careful consideration was given to all available options that led to the declaration of a public order emergency as a last resort,” said Robert MacKinnon, who is one of the attorneys representing the federal government.


“We are of the opinion that there was no justification for invoking the Emergencies Act. The Emergencies Act requires several things. Firstly, it could be invoked on the grounds of espionage and of sabotage. Are you going to hear evidence of espionage and sabotage? The answer to that is no. It could be claimed on the basis of clandestine or deceptive foreign influence, or foreign influence that involves a threat to a person. Are you going to hear evidence about this? The answer to this question is no. It can also be invoked on the basis of threats or use of serious acts of violence against persons or property. you hear evidence of violence against persons or property? The answer is no. Finally, it can also be invoked if there is a group or persons trying to destroy or overthrow by violence the system of government of Canada Are you going to hear pre Anybody trying to do this? The answer is no,” said Brendan Miller, one of the attorneys representing the convoy organizers.


“Saskatchewan’s position is that the federal government had already determined that a national emergency would be declared, prior to the First Ministers’ call on February 14. The appeal was not so much to consult as to say… The government is concerned that the rights of residents may have been unnecessarily infringed by these measures,” said Michael Morris, one of the lawyers representing the Saskatchewan government. .

“Alberta believes it is important to share with Canadians the facts about how Alberta was able to effectively deal with the blockade of the international border at Coutts, Alberta, prior to the invocation of federal law on emergency measures. Evidence from Alberta will show that the existing law enforcement tools that were already in place were entirely sufficient and they were used successfully…None of the powers created under the Federal Measures Act emergency was needed, and none of them have been used in Alberta,” said Mandy England, one of the lawyers representing the Alberta government.


« The impact on Ottawa of these three weeks of harassment, street blockades, deafening air and train horns and general lawlessness, was unprecedented… Many people in Ottawa felt as if they were prisoners in their own home, and they felt abandoned, and they didn’t feel safe from the police and from all levels of government… Don’t get me wrong: this was a crisis in downtown « Ottawa. There was a mess. There was chaos. There were propane tanks, gas, jerry cans everywhere. There were fireworks. At all hours of the night… There were no public services, no paramedics, no buses, no taxis…businesses were closed…The people of Ottawa are still traumatized, Commissioner,” said the Lawyer Paul Champ, who represents the Ottawa Residents and Businesses Coalition.

“The first convoy participants arrived in Ottawa, not far from where we are sitting today, on January 28, and they stayed in our city for about three weeks. I expect you will hear witnesses talk about the significant impacts on residents of the city. And you will also hear about the City’s efforts to support the police response to the convoy and to mitigate the impacts on City services,” said City of Ottawa Legal Counsel Anne Tardif.


“You will hear that there is a well-established process that the Ottawa Police Service follows when protests occur…The Ottawa Police, you will hear, followed this well-established process that had always worked with protesters this time This too, and was ready for an event. But not for the event that happened. Why? What you will hear is that this event was unique in Canadian history. The police had little time to prepare…for the arrival of the convoy was the level of communal violence and social trauma inflicted on the city and its residents,” said attorney David Migicovsky, who represents the Police Department of Ottawa.

“The City of Ottawa was ground zero for the protests that took place…And Chief Sloly will help you understand the challenges facing the Ottawa Police Service in the face of evolving illegal occupation. As he will explain, the events represent a paradigm shift in In particular, he will explain to you the limited resources available to the Ottawa Police Service to deal with a massive occupation, the limited nature of the intelligence available to the OPS on what is happening in Ottawa, the importance of the right to protest lawfully in our democracy and the limits of the Ottawa Police Service’s authority to deal with protesters, » said the former chief’s representative. Ottawa Police, Peter Sloly, Tom Curry.


« For 34 years, the Emergencies Act has never been used. The public order emergency of 2022 was a historic first, but now that the glass has been broken on the law, it can be The law has been used by this government against protesting individuals But, a future government of a different political stripe may use the law in response to protests against pipelines or climate change. tough on the use of the law in 2022, the commission must also focus on the potential misuse of the law in the future and protect the right to protest against parliamentary democracy and federalism. « is not just important for Canada, but also for the entire world where the use of emergency powers is on the rise. The world will follow our work, » said the Canadian Constitution Foundation re featuring co-counsel Sujit Choudhry.

“The commission will examine many issues that are central to the work of the ACLC, including: the legal scope of the right to protest, the role of the police in facilitating protests while protecting the public city, the relationship between the authorities law enforcement agencies, civilian oversight bodies, and government actors, and oversight of those involved in dissident social movements… The CCLA views the commission as an essential element in achieving the goals of transparency and accountability,” the representative said. from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Cara Zwibel.


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