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Emergencies Act inquiry to hear from 2 senior cabinet ministers today

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An inquiry into the federal government’s use of emergency powers to respond to protests of an anti-COVID-19 vaccine order that has blocked downtown Ottawa’s trade corridors and congested sections this winter was heard today by two senior cabinet ministers. increase.

Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominique Leblanc will state the government’s case for invoking the Emergency Act when appearing before the Public Order Emergency Committee.

Mendicino may face questions about his past comments on advice the government was given about using the law.

On Saturday, February 19, 2022, police move from downtown Ottawa to clear protesters near the Capitol after weeks of demonstrations. (Canadian Press)

In the spring, the public security minister told a parliamentary committee that the police had recommended that the government be given emergency powers to end the protests.

“The advice we got was that law enforcement needs emergency legislation,” Mendicino said at the time.

However, pre-interrogation testimony indicates that no police have called for the law to be invoked.

Ottawa interim police chief Steve Bell told the commission he was not seeking the deployment of emergency legislation. Ontario Police Chief Superintendent Carson Purdy, now retired, told the inquiry he doesn’t think emergency powers are needed.

RCMP commissioner Brenda Lackey told the committee the night before the federal government invoked the emergency law, telling Mendicino’s chief of staff that police had not exhausted all legal avenues to end the protests. Jody Thomas, the Prime Minister’s National Security Advisor, has refuted Lucky’s allegations.

CSIS director David Vigneault told the commission on Monday that he had advised Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that legislation was needed to resolve the protests.

DISPUTE BETWEEN ONTARIO AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

As minister for intergovernmental affairs, LeBlanc will likely address friction between Ontario and the federal government over how to deal with protests in Ottawa and the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario. The tension that arose in the testimony inside.

The Emergency Act is to be invoked only when a national emergency “cannot be effectively addressed by other Canadian laws,” according to the wording of the law itself.

In a private phone call with then-Ottawa mayor Jim Watson on Feb. 8, Prime Minister Trudeau said Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford was “hiding” from his responsibilities during the Freedom Convoy protests. criticized.

“As you stressed, Doug Ford has been hiding from that responsibility for political reasons,” Trudeau said, according to a phone call readout, which is not an exact transcript of the conversation.

“The point is to make sure they can’t escape it.”

A few weeks later, the commission heard from a senior Ontario government official who claimed the federal government was trying to force the province to take the lead in ending the lockdown.

In testimony ahead of the inquiry, Ontario’s Deputy Secretary General Mario Di Tomaso said during a meeting that Thomas said whether the provincial government would play a more active role if the Ottawa protests took place in Kingston, Ontario. He said he asked

“The question, to my understanding, was about the federal government wanting to wash all this away,” Di Tomaso said.

Ford has said it supports the federal government’s decision to invoke the law.

The commission’s inquiry is expected to be heard from Trudeau and several other senior ministers this week.

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