Five things to know about the Emergencies Act investigation

Public hearings into the inquiry into the federal government’s unprecedented use of the Emergencies Act during the so-called « Freedom Convoy » protests last winter are due to begin Thursday. Here are five things to know about it.

1. A longtime judge leads the commission

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed Ontario Court of Appeal Judge Paul Rouleau as commissioner of the inquiry. Judge Rouleau and his staff will guide witnesses through the hearings and present their findings in a report. The commission is a separate process from the all-party special parliamentary committee that also reviews the government’s decision.

2. The mandate of the inquiry

The purpose of the commission is to examine the circumstances that led the government to declare a state of emergency. This includes examining the evolution of protests, the impact of funding and misinformation, the economic impact of blockades, as well as the efforts of police and other agencies before and after the declaration of the state. emergency.

3. Organizers and the police as participants

Over the summer, individuals and groups could apply for survey participant status. Judge Rouleau determined the final list. The federal government, the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan and the cities of Ottawa and Windsor, Ontario, have standing, as do the Ottawa Police Service, the National Police Federation and a group of 10 convoy organizers, including Tamara Lich, Tom Marazzo and Chris Barber.

Standing means that these groups and their lawyers will be informed in advance of the information presented in evidence, in addition to benefiting from certain privileges, such as the possibility of proposing or cross-examining witnesses.

4. Six weeks of hearings at the cost of millions

The commission’s public hearings are scheduled to last six weeks, ending Nov. 25. The costs remain unknown for the moment, but the sum could amount to millions of dollars. For example, the joint federal-provincial public inquiry into the April 2020 killings in Nova Scotia has cost over $25.6 million so far, and the final report has yet to be produced. However, this investigation held hearings that lasted more than six months.

5. Final report expected more than a year after lawsuit

The Liberal government’s choice to declare a state of emergency by law for the first time in history on February 14 gave police extraordinary temporary powers to clear protesters from downtown Ottawa and ordered the banks to freeze the accounts of some of those involved.

The Emergency Measures Act requires the government to open an investigation within 60 days of the revocation of the emergency declaration, which took place on February 23. The commission must provide a final report to Parliament by February 20, 2023.


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