Emergencies Act Inquiry Day 1: Witnesses say EA was ‘not justified’

Rachel Emmanuel

October 13, 2022

It’s the first day of the federal Emergencies Act Inquiry, and already, two liberty organizations say the Trudeau Liberals were ‘not justified’ in invoking the legislation to grant themselves extreme powers. 

Emergencies Act Inquiry Day 1: Witnesses say EA was 'not justified'
Emergencies Act Inquiry Day 1: Witnesses say EA was ‘not justified’

Ottawa invoked the act in February for the first time in Canadian history to deal with Freedom Convoy demonstrators who were peacefully protesting COVID-19 restrictions like vaccine mandates in the nation’s capital.

“There was no justification whatsoever to invoke the Emergencies Act,” said Brandon Miller, a constitutional counsel for Freedom Corp, which represents convoy organizers.

The private Alberta-based corporation seeks to educate Canadians about their Charter rights and pursue legal action where necessary.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) reiterated Freedom Corp’s comments.

“The commission is aware that the CCLA had sought judicial review of the decision to declare a public order emergency and argues that the legal threshold was not met, and that the emergency orders that were put in place by the government breached constitutional rights in a manner that was not reasonable or justified,” said CCLA director Carla Zwibel.

Zwibel also said the CLA’s interest in the commission’s work stems from its concern about using emergency powers that circumvent the parliamentary processes and allow the executive branch, referring to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to rule “by fiat” — meaning an authoritative or arbitrary order.

Robert MacKinnon, co-lead counsel for the federal government, said government witnesses will outline other steps the feds attempted to reveal that the emergency declaration was a “last resort.”

“The evidence will show that the invocation of the Emergencies Act was a reasonable and necessary decision, given the escalating volatile and urgent circumstances across the country,” he said.

The federal government refused to meet with convoy organizers while they were in Ottawa. 

Lawyer Paul Champ representing the Ottawa Coalition of Residents and Businesses, said there are about 15,000 people who live in the downtown core.

“The impact on Ottawa for those three weeks of harassment, street blockages, ear-splitting train and air horns, and general lawlessness was unprecedented,” he said.

Champ said Ottawa residents felt like prisoners in their own homes and argued they are still traumatized, bewildered and upset from the protests.

“It’s going to take a while for this city to heal internally,” he claimed.

Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act and was able to begin penalizing those associated with the Freedom Convoy under its powers, even before Parliament approved the radical measure. It allowed the government to freeze the bank accounts and crypto wallets of anyone associated with the protests.

Ottawa police have already said they did not ask for the act to be invoked.

The inquiry ended at 1 pm EST on Thursday. Still, testimony will continue for another month — including from Trudeau, who will finally have to answer for his dictatorial use of emergency powers. 

As first reported by The Counter Signal in April, Trudeau appointed long-time Liberal Party of Canada donor Justice Paul Rouleau is leading the investigation. 

Other witnesses include Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Justice Minister David Lametti and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.

Deputy Transport Minister Michael Keenan, one of the key players behind the federal government’s decision to bar unvaccinated Canadians from flying or boarding a train, will also testify before the Public Order Emergency Commission.

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