At the Public Order Emergency Commission on Tuesday, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki admitted that RCMP officers had the legal power to clear Freedom Convoy protestors without the Emergencies Act invocation.
Lucki spent most of her eight-hour testimony arguing that it wasn’t the RCMP’s jurisdiction to handle Ottawa Police Services (OPS). She also said it wasn’t the RCMP’s “role to overtake” the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
About six hours into Lucki’s testimony, lawyer Janani Shanmuganathan of the Canadian Constitutional Foundation asked her a hypothetical question during cross-examination.
“If we have an RCMP officer that’s standing on Wellington Street in Ottawa, and they see somebody committing an offence under the criminal code, they don’t need to call the police in Ottawa to arrest the person; they can arrest the person themselves,” Shanmuganathan said.
Shanmuganathan reminded Lucki there was a court-ordered injunction for protestors to leave the city, which they were violating by not going.
Shanmuganathan said the violation was a criminal code offence, which meant the RCMP had the legal power to act. Section 127 of the Criminal Code speaks to breaching a court order.
Lucki attempted to cite a need for more expertise on several occasions.
“I’m not a lawyer. I honestly don’t know,” she said at one point.
“I’ll have to do more research,” she said later.
Lucki eventually resorted back to the notion of jurisdiction. She conceded that the RCMP could have acted but said it would have been “mayhem” if they did.
“But we aren’t the police of jurisdiction in Ottawa. And so, it is, ah, I don’t know if it’s a common law, or what authority it is, um, it would be like, bringing Ottawa Police Service and then putting them in downtown Toronto and saying ‘we’re just going to start policing,’” she said.
“There’s a police of jurisdiction for a reason, and so, if I find somebody committing an offence and it’s something that I can arrest, I can arrest, but for the purpose of this exercise, we could not simply walk in and decide that we’re the police of jurisdiction,” Lucki continued.
“Could you imagine the mayhem that would arrive if we said we’re going to be the police of jurisdiction for the day?”
Shanmuganathan noted the difference between legal permissions and what Lucki was referring to as custom.
“There’s nothing that legally prevented you to enforce the criminal code in Ottawa,” the lawyer said.
“Yes, and we weren’t objecting to enforcing in that regard, so I don’t know where you’re going with this,” Lucki responded.
The examination ended at this point.
Earlier in the day, Lucki said that the RCMP’s positioning on enforcement was to assist OPS as requested.
“We told them we were giving them everything they needed, and when they were ready to enforce, if they require additional resources over an enforcement plan, we would be ready to assist.”