A national inquiry into the Canadian government’s use of the Emergencies Act to bring an end to the “Freedom Convoy” trucker protests and blockades has been launched, with a mandate to examine the circumstances that led to the use of the Act along with measures used to deal with the emergency situation.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named Paul S. Rouleau to lead the independent “Public Order Emergency Commission,” which will be ongoing for a large part of this year.
Rouleau, who is an experienced judge, will have to present his final report, including key findings and “lessons learned,” to both the House of Commons and Senate in both official languages, by Feb. 20th, 2023. He’s expected to weigh in on the “appropriateness and effectiveness” of the measures taken by the government in its invocation of the Emergencies Act.
It will cover “the evolution of the convoy, the impact of funding and disinformation, the economic impact, and efforts of police and other responders prior to and after the declaration,” with the hopes of preventing similar events from happening again, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
In a statement, Rouleau said he’s looking forward to beginning the inquiry, and says he’ll have more information on how the commission will function “in the near future.”
“I am committed to ensuring that the process is as open and transparent as possible, recognizing the tight timelines for reporting imposed by the Emergencies Act,” he said.
The commissioner will have the power to decide who participates, summon witnesses under oath, and compel them to provide documents. In addition to the Government of Canada’s involvement, provincial and municipal governments, not all who supported invoking the cross-country powers will be given an opportunity to have their say.
The launching of a national inquiry was mandated under the federal Emergencies Act. It stipulated that the inquiry had to be struck 60 days after a declaration of national emergency was revoked, or expired.
Speaking about the newly-launched inquiry, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino vowed Rouleau will have access to “classified documents” as part of his work but would not specify if that included documents that are considered “cabinet confidences.”
“This is not just about checking a box off, this is healthy for our democracy,” the minister said, adding he remains confident that the government’s invocation of the wide-sweeping powers was justified. “It was a necessary decision, it was a responsible decision, it was the right thing to do and we are certainly looking forward to co-operating.”