Trudeau and several of his cabinet ministers are expected to appear at the Public Order Emergency Commission (POEC) next week to answer questions regarding the Liberals’ Feb. 14 choice to use emergency powers to end the so-called “Freedom Convoy,” a weeks-long blockade of Ottawa and multiple Canada-U.S. border crossings earlier this year.
It marked the first time in Canadian history the Emergencies Act was used. Trudeau revoked it on Feb. 23. As part of the legislation, an inquiry into its use must be held and the POEC was formed on April 25, with former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Paul Rouleau appointed as chairperson.
The commission has been holding hearings since Oct. 13, and has heard testimony from protest leaders, police officers and provincial and federal officials. The hearings will run until the end of this month, and the inquiry will have to submit its final report — including both its findings and recommendations — by Feb. 6, 2023.
Aside from Trudeau, officials expected to appear next week include Defence Minister Anita Anand, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Justice Minister David Lametti, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.
David Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Michelle Tessier, deputy director of operations with CSIS, Marie-Hélène Chayer, executive director of CSIS’ integrated terrorism assessment centre, Katie Telford, Trudeau’s chief of staff, Brian Clow, Trudeau’s deputy chief of staff and John Brodhead, Trudeau’s policy director, are also expected to appear next week.
Prior to the government invoking the Emergencies Act in February, people protesting COVID-19 public health measures had been dug-in for weeks in downtown Ottawa, as well as at border crossings in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia.
Ottawa residents were subjected to non-stop honking of horns and blockaded city streets that forced businesses to shut their doors.
Police said they received hundreds of reports of abusive behaviour during that period including harassment of those wearing masks, threats and intimidation, and fireworks being set off in residential areas in the middle of the night.
The occupation ended when law enforcement from multiple jurisdictions launched a massive operation to clear Ottawa streets, remove trucks and infrastructure set up by the convoy, and arrest those who chose not to leave the area after the demonstration was declared an illegal protest.
— with files from Global News’ Rachel Gilmore