The commission probing the federal government’s unprecedented use of the Emergencies Act in response to last year’s “Freedom Convoy” protests has been granted more time to complete its report.
The Public Order Emergency Commission (POEC) was initially given a deadline of Feb. 6 to submit its report to cabinet, along with a final deadline of Feb. 20 for the report to be submitted to Parliament.
The latter date is the absolute deadline under the Emergencies Act legislation, which requires a commission launched in response to any invocation of the Act to submit its final report on the circumstances that led to that invocation to Parliament and to the public within 360 days of the Act being revoked.
“The commission has requested more time to complete the report, so the (order-in-council) will be amended and the report will not be delivered to government on (Feb. 6). The report will be released by the legislated deadline,” a government source told Global News. The source spoke on background to discuss the matter.
A spokesperson for the commission confirmed the POEC has advised the Privy Council’s Office that “it is not able to provide its report in both official languages to the government by Feb. 6.”
Read more: Emergencies Act inquiry fact-finding phase wraps after 6 weeks of hearings: ‘An amazing feat’
It is not immediately clear if the report will still be delivered to cabinet first before being distributed to Parliament.
The commission, headed by former appellate court justice Paul Rouleau, held six weeks of public hearings last fall that heard from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, cabinet officials, police, protesters and Ottawa residents. Several experts later offered testimony on rights and freedoms, social media and other issues as part of the commission’s investigation.
Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14, 2022, for the first time since it became law in 1988 after protesters associated with the “Freedom Convoy” blockaded downtown Ottawa and key border crossings, causing weeks of disruptions to Canada’s trade corridors, businesses and residents in those communities.
The emergency powers were then revoked on Feb. 23 after the protesters and blockades were cleared.
— with files from Global’s Rachel Gilmore and the Canadian Press