Victory for Premier Ford, who will not have to testify before the Rouleau Commission | Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency

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Victory for Prime Minister Ford, who will not have to testify before the Rouleau Commission | ;state of emergency

Federal Court rules that subpoenas are admissible, but Doug Ford's parliamentary privileges do grant him immunity while the Ontario legislature is sitting .

Premier Doug Ford and former Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, were challenging in court a summons to appear before the Emergency Commission.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Deputy Premier Sylvia Jones can breathe a sigh of relief. A Federal Court judge acknowledges that the Rouleau Commission on Emergency Measures cannot compel them to testify as scheduled Thursday in Ottawa, due to their parliamentary privileges.

The Rouleau Commission, which was established on April 25, 2022, is currently investigating the circumstances that led to the declaration of a state of emergency from February 14 to 23, 2022, when hundreds of truck drivers and protesters occupied downtown Ottawa for three weeks.

She had subpoenaed Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his former Solicitor on October 24. General, Sylvia Jones.

Their lawyers had asked the Federal Court to suspend their subpoena. They claimed that their appearance before the Commission would cause irreparable harm to the privileges of elected officials, as well as to the rule of law.

Sylvia Jones was Solicitor General of Ontario at the time of the occupation of Ottawa and the Ambassador Bridge.

In his decision, Judge Simon Fothergill writes that he partially grants the plaintiffs' motion.

He points out that Mr. Ford and Mrs. Jones are indeed elected representatives and that & #x27;they enjoy parliamentary privilege which exempts them from the obligation to testify before the Rouleau Commission.

The magistrate nevertheless explains that the summonses are indeed admissible and that the lawyers for Mr. Ford and Mrs. Jones erred in asserting that the Commission did not have the competence to issue such summonses to their clients.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford recently said in the House at Queen's Park that he did not see the reason why he should testify before the Rouleau Commission. (Archives)

The lawyers had submitted an urgent motion to stay the two subpoenas, until their request could be decided on the merits at a later date.

The Judge writes, however, that plaintiffs may invoke their parliamentary privileges while sitting in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which is the case at present.

The Commission therefore cannot take any action to compel their appearance and testimony.

Parliamentary privilege protects the Legislative Assembly against any outside interference that could interfere with the exercise of its role constitutional, he writes, recalling that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario is ultimately accountable to the electorate and not to the courts.

Judge Paul Rouleau, who chairs the State of Emergency Commission, will not be able to ask questions of Mr. Ford or Ms. Jones while the legislature Ontario will sit.

It is therefore a setback for Commission counsel, who argued in a special hearing last week that Mr. Ford and Mrs. Jones had exaggerated the extent of their privileges and that their claim should be denied.

They had assured that Mr. Ford and Ms. Jones would not risk any personal harm if they were to testify and that it was in the public interest that x27;they do, since their input might have shed new light on what happened in Ottawa and at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor.

It's also a disappointment for the Coalition of Downtown Ottawa Businesses and Residents, which had obtained intervenor status in this case.

She had specified that the questions that Commissioner Rouleau wanted to ask Mr. Ford and Mrs. Jones were known, since they appeared in court documents and therefore did not involve any surprises.

More details to come.

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