Rouleau Commission: “Things were beyond us,” says Justin Trudeau | Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau testifies before the Commission of public order emergency in Ottawa on Friday, November 25, 2022.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who testifies before the Commission of Inquiry into the Use of the Emergencies Act on Friday, feared violence could break out in Canada in February 2022. And according to him , the Emergencies Act was the government's tool to prevent the situation from getting worse.
There was the militarization of certain vehicles, […] children were used as human shields, particularly on the Ambassador Bridge, […] there were weapons in Coutts, […] there were violence motivated by ideology, risks of triggering lone wolves. Grandmothers were seen surrounded by trucks on residential streets, the prime minister listed, to illustrate threats of serious violence in February 2022.
“Things were not only not getting better, they were getting worse. […] We saw things getting worse, things were getting away from us.
— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
And according to the Prime Minister, neither the police nor the provinces had a plan to live up to the challenge. situation. It was not enough to have a plan to clear this or that line of traffic. A plan was needed to avoid a resurgence or outbreak of protest elsewhere. […] The situation would escape the police forces.
The Trudeau government invoked the Emergencies Act on February 14, 2022 to 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 posteriori examine the circumstances which led the authorities to take such a decision.
Without hesitation, Justin Trudeau admitted that from the beginning of the freedom convoy, he considered the possibility of invoking the Emergencies Act. It wasn't taken very seriously, it was a reflection.
But it was on February 10 that the useful discussions around it all began. In a meeting with the Incident Response Group (GII), the Prime Minister said he asked the various stakeholders, including civil servants and ministers, to submit to him at the next meeting what additional tools we do not have. Haven't already it would have to be invoked by the Emergencies Act. What would we do with the Emergencies Act?
The next meeting was the following Sunday, February 13, around 4 p.m. Six measures were then proposed to end the blockades, but also to prevent protesters from returning or starting again elsewhere.
“What are our options for bringing these measures to reality?” At that point, it was starting to be quite clear that the situation was urgent, that it could get worse and go downhill, that there was an urgency to act and that the tool we had to quickly bring these tools specific was the Emergencies Act. »
— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Justin Trudeau assured that a consensus was first established within this IGI, then later in the evening during a Cabinet meeting. But he says his decision was not made on February 13.
The next day, February 14, he met with the premiers of the provinces, which he said were overwhelmed. He then received a note from the head of the public service of Canada asking him to invoke the Emergencies Act. This is where I made the decision.
I am completely serene and confident that I made the right choice.
Since the beginning of the commission's public hearings – which are in their last day – the ministers and senior officials interviewed have all maintained that the Cabinet has the right to invoke the emergency measures, and this, even though the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had determined that neither the occupation of Ottawa nor the border blockades posed a threat to national security.
The Emergencies Act is however clear and stipulates that a threat to national security has the meaning of section 2 of the CSIS Act. And such a threat to national security must be identified to justify the invocation of emergency measures, a law of exception and of last resort.
Justin Trudeau argued that the contexts and purpose of CSIS and the federal government are different and that the context in which we are considering this definition is very different from the very narrow framework of CSIS.
The words in both cases are the same, but the question is who interprets these words and what is the purpose of the exercise. The goal in this case was to ensure that we had exceptional temporary measures that would put an end to this national emergency.
It was necessary to establish whether yes or no the situation in the country constituted a threat to the security of the country. We looked at [Section 2C] in particular [of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act].
Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act< /strong>
Section 2. The following activities constitute threats to the security of Canada:
(c) activities that affect or take place in Canada and are intended to encourage the use of serious violence or threats of violence against persons or property in order to achieve an objective political, religious or ideological in Canada or in a foreign state;
A prime minister's responsibility is to make tough decisions and keep people safe. At that time, the opinion of the Cabinet and my own opinion was that we had to ensure people's safety.
The Prime Minister is the last witness for the factual phase of the Commission's public hearings, which will have lasted just over six weeks.
Seven Liberal cabinet ministers before him testified before Judge Paul Rouleau, who is trying to find out how the government interpreted the definition of a threat to national security, necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act.
Thursday, Canada's Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland – who feared the Freedom Convoy would cause irreparable harm to the Canadian economy – hinted that a security threat economy was a threat to the security of the whole country.
However, she refused to reveal whether the use of emergency measures was based on this notion of threat to the country. #x27;Canadian economy.
The State of Emergency Commission will begin the policy phase ticks of its proceedings on Monday, November 28.