Emergencies Act investigation: OPP commissioner ready to testify about Ottawa protests

The commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police is scheduled to testify Thursday at the public inquiry into the Liberal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to end the « Freedom Convoy » protests in Ottawa.

Thomas Carrique’s testimony is expected to explain how the provincial police prepared for the protests against the COVID-19 warrants and whether they posed a threat to national security.

Carrique told the House of Commons Public Safety Committee in March that the OPP’s intelligence unit had identified the Ottawa protest as a « threat to national security » about a week after the arrival of heavy trucks in the capital.

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But the head of the intelligence unit, Supt. Pat Morris, told the public inquiry last week that there had never been ‘credible’ information showing a direct threat to national security and that they ‘didn’t see a lot’ of extremism.

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On Monday, MPs on the public safety committee voted unanimously to demand a response from the OPP to these contradictory statements.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canadian history on February 14, arguing that its temporary and extraordinary powers were needed to end blockages in Ottawa and at border crossings.

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The Emergency Public Order Commission, which has scheduled public hearings at the Library and Archives Canada building in downtown Ottawa until November 25, is examining the circumstances of the choice to use it.

The Emergencies Act is intended to be used when an urgent, critical and temporary situation threatens the life, health or safety of Canadians, that the provinces are believed to lack the authority to manage the situation and that the crisis cannot be effectively defused with the existing laws.

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Intelligence reports filed with the Public Order Emergency Commission last week said convoy organizers and participants would be ‘unlikely to have the ability to control, influence or discipline’ the « fringe elements » who they believe could pose the greatest threat to public safety.

They also repeatedly noted that while the OPP has “identified no concrete, specific, or credible threats with respect to the Freedom Convoy protest” or related events, “a lone actor or group of individuals could issue a threat with little or no warning.”

On February 8, the OPP’s assessment noted that « foreign ideological and financial support » for the protests helped to « strengthen the resolve » of the participants. As such, according to the intelligence report, « the continuing series of protests and blockades pose a potential threat to Canada’s sovereignty and national security. »

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Late Wednesday, the investigating commissioner, Judge Paul Rouleau, ruled that the federal government could present evidence and witnesses from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Center in closed session for national security reasons. .

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In his decision, Rouleau also said that after hearing the evidence, he will decide whether some or all of it should be kept confidential.

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