Lessons to be learned from the Rouleau report, according to Prime Minister Trudeau | Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency
Justin Trudeau was surrounded, for this press briefing, by the Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, the Minister of Justice, David Lametti, and the Minister of Protection civil servant, Bill Blair.
The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, on Friday welcomed the conclusions of the report presented earlier in the day by Commissioner Paul Rouleau, who said that it was justified for the federal government to invoke the Emergencies Act to end the “freedom convoy” crisis last winter. Lessons must be learned for any current or future government, Trudeau said.
We were indeed facing a national emergency and we were losing control of the situation, added the Prime Minister.
In his voluminous report tabled in the federal Parliament, which includes more than 56 recommendations, Justice Rouleau said there was credible and compelling information to reasonably believe that the definition of threats to the security of Canada was met.
He pointed to a failure of federalism, however, saying that more collaboration at the political level early on could have helped resolve the communication, jurisdictional and resource issues that hampered early responses to the protests. p>
“There were failures, it's unfortunate, but we found ourselves backed into a corner. To ensure safety, according to our reading of the situation, we had to act and Mr. Rouleau agreed with us.
— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister, who recognized the right of all Canadians to protest, however stressed that it was necessary to invoke this exceptional law.
Trucks remain parked at the corner of Metcalfe and Slater streets in downtown Ottawa, February 2, 2022. (File photo)
The statement of the x27;state of emergency granted extraordinary powers to governments, police and financial institutions to limit protesters' rights to freedom of assembly, freeze bank accounts and compel private businesses to cooperate with authorities, the all with the aim of putting an end to the protests.
This law – adopted in 1988 to succeed the War Measures Act – provides in particular that a public inquiry must a posteriori examine the circumstances which led the authorities to take such a decision.
“Let's be clear, we absolutely did not want to invoke the Emergencies Act, it's a last resort, but there was a real risk of violence. »
— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Mr. Trudeau also conceded that the law should not be taken lightly. From the beginning, our government was aware that it was a responsible decision and we knew that there would be a commission of inquiry to ensure transparency, said the Prime Minister, affirming that his government will issue a reaction to the recommendations of commission within a year.
“We all agree that it should never have come to this, and we all agree that there are important lessons to be learned for everyone involved, law enforcement agencies law, government agencies, as well as elected officials.
—Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Ottawa police deal with protesters, some of whom have been camping in their trucks near Parliament Hill for weeks , February 19, 2022.
Mr. Trudeau also denounced the roadblocks by demonstrators that have damaged our economy and endangered public safety. According to him, $300 million worth of goods transit between Windsor and Detroit. […] The blocking of the Ambassador Bridge was simply unacceptable.
This blockade jeopardized trade with the United States, essential supply chains and the Canadian economy, he added, recalling that firearms had been found at the border crossing in Coutts, Alberta.
It was from Alberta that the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, held a press briefing in which he fired red balls at Justin Trudeau, accusing him of having created the crisis of the drivers in Ottawa by dividing Canadians on various issues, including the one surrounding the vaccination against COVID-19.
“He was the one who caused the problem of the protests, a problem that was unnecessary. Justin Trudeau's insults to the public served to energize the protesters, harden their resolve and make them even more bitter towards government authorities. »
— Pierre Poilievre, leader of the Conservative Party
It's the report that says so, assured the leader of the federal official opposition, saying that if he ruled the country, he would take another approach to unite Canadians who are suffering.
Pierre Poilievre, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
I will listen to their stories and try to understand their pain. Instead of attacking people who are suffering, why not focus on their problems? Mr. Poilievre wondered.
He also said that if he had been in the place of the Liberal Prime Minister during the health crisis, he would have listened to all voices and would have allowed the maximum personal freedom in health choices. That's how we can avoid this kind of crisis, he added.
Reacting to the same report, the Bloc Québécois estimated on Friday that recourse to the Emergencies Act was not necessarily the right decision, contrary to Justice Rouleau's findings.
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Bloc Deputy House Leader Christine Normandin said other things could have been done to resolve the situation.
The law may have facilitated [the resolution of the crisis] but it was not necessary, she said. The Trudeau government justified resorting to the law by freezing assets, when there were other solutions.
“We maintain that it was not justified […] it is not a law to be taken lightly. In that context, I think we could have at least assessed other options and shown much more transparency. »
— Christine Normandin, Deputy House Leader of the Bloc Québécois
The New Democratic Party, which had ratified, in the Commons, the decision of the Trudeau government to invoke the Emergency Measures Act, insisted on Friday on the errors of the police forces mentioned by Judge Rouleau.
The report makes it clear that this situation and the reaction from all levels of government and police was unacceptable, party leader Jagmeet Singh said in a statement. He added that the recommendations put forward should serve as a roadmap for improving policing and government responses to crises.
Civil society also had its say on the Rouleau report, in particular the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which criticized the use of this emergency law.
The federal government granted itself the powers to legislate or act without any constraint […] without transparency, consultations or debates, said the director general of the organization, Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, in a press conference.
It is a suspension of the democratic process. It may be necessary in rare cases, but it was not warranted last winter and is a dangerous power for any current or future government, she added.