CSIS director recommended Trudeau invoke state of emergency | Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act should also be modernized, according to David Vigneault.
David Vigneault recommended Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoke the Emergencies Act last winter, even though he believed the situation did not pose a threat to national security within the meaning of the CSIS Act.
The Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), David Vigneault, recommended that Prime Minister Trudeau invoke the Emergencies Act last winter to end the terrorism. #x27;occupation of downtown Ottawa and border blockades.
Monday, during his testimony before the Commission on the State of Emergency , tasked with determining whether to invoke this extraordinary law last February, Mr. Vigneault summed up his fears about the convoy of truckers.
He noted the presence of ideologically motivated and violent individuals, unpredictable and changing demonstrations on a large scale, the solicitation of police forces on several fronts at the same time and the absence of plan to end the crisis, at least when it comes time to resort to the Emergencies Act.
“All of these unpredictable elements […] led me to believe that regular tools were just not enough to deal with the situation.
—David Vigneault, Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service
Yet neither the “freedom convoy” nor the roadblocks posed a threat to national security at the time, Mr. Vigneault repeated to the Rouleau commission. This observation, the director of CSIS shared it each time he met federal ministers, he assured during his interrogation, in the morning.
If Mr. Vigneault actually recommended that Justin Trudeau declare a state of emergency, it was because he had been assured that the government and his service might have different interpretations of the state of emergency. phrase “threat to national security”.
This guarantee, he explained, was instrumental from February 10, I believe, when we discussed it [for the first time].
The Law on emergency measures – with which Mr. Vigneault was not particularly familiar – is nevertheless clear and stipulates that a threat to national security is understood within the meaning of Article 2 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act.
The director of CSIS on Monday pointed out the obvious limits of the law governing his service.
Under current law, a pandemic, he illustrated, could not be considered a threat to national security by intelligence services, whose mandate is instead to combat espionage, sabotage, hidden and illicit activities aimed at undermining the government, etc.
According to Mr. Vigneault, section 2 of the CSIS Act should be modernized.
This provision was enacted almost 40 years ago and there is a need for a public and constructive debate on the reform of the national security legislative framework, the interview summary states that x27;he granted commission prosecutors before the start of public hearings.
In cross-examination, the head of Canadian intelligence clarified on Monday that it was the federal Department of Justice who had assured him that the Emergencies Act could be invoked even if CSIS did not consider, according to its criteria, that the situation represented a threat to national security.
The Trudeau government invoked the Emergencies Act on February 14, 2022 to put end a rally of truckers and other protesters opposing COVID-19 health measures that paralyzed downtown Ottawa from Saturday, January 29 to Sunday, February 20.
This law – adopted in 1988 to succeed the War Measures Act – provides in particular that a public inquiry must a fortiori examine the circumstances which led the authorities to take such a decision.
David Vigneault appeared on Monday along with Michelle Tessier, Assistant Deputy Minister of the National Security and Cybersecurity Branch of Public Safety, and Marie-Hélène Chayer, Director General of the Integrated Center for x27;terrorism assessment.
They pointed out that some members of the freedom convoy were already in the sights of the authorities before it arrived in Ottawa. CSIS feared that the rhetoric of the organizers could incite “lone wolves” to commit violent acts.
CSIS representatives had warned that the emergency measures risked worsen the situation, we learned in recent weeks.
Mr. Vigneault, Ms. Tessier and Ms. Chayer will be followed in the witness box by Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair. His colleagues Marco Mendicino, Dominic LeBlanc, David Lametti, Anita Anand, Omar Alghabra and Chrystia Freeland will also be interviewed in the coming days.
The week should conclude with the appearance of Justin Trudeau , who will be preceded by three members of the Prime Minister's Office, including his chief of staff, Katie Telford.
The commission's public hearings have so far been full of twists and turns. And last week was no exception.
Although some witnesses – including RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and former Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) President John Ossowski – have claimed that invoking the emergency had been useful, many argued that it was not necessary.
In addition, the authorities had not yet exercised all the options available to restore the situation, according to the Clerk and the Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council Office.
Commissioner Lucki, who assured that she was not under any political pressure, also testified to this effect last Tuesday.
Prime Minister Trudeau's national security adviser, Jody Thomas, however criticized the RCMP boss for not having informed the Cabinet that a vast operation to liberate downtown Ottawa was ready to be launched, the day before the invocation of the Mess Act emergency.