Ottawa, Ontario: Counsel for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, Rob Kittredge, will cross examine Prime Minister Justice Trudeau today at the Public Order Emergency Commission hearing in Ottawa, which is broadcast live at https://publicorderemergencycommission.ca/public-hearings/.
The Commission hearings started on October 13, 2022, before Commissioner Paul Rouleau. The Commissioner has heard testimony from Ottawa residents and municipal politicians, top law enforcement and intelligence officials, protestors and others, and has been concluding this week with testimony from senior federal government officials, including Cabinet ministers and finally the Prime Minister.
The central question before the Commission is whether the federal government’s February 14, 2022 declaration of a Public Order Emergency was legally justified under The Emergencies Act. The Emergencies Act requires that the federal cabinet must have believed “on reasonable grounds” that there were threats to the security of Canada so serious as to be a “national emergency.” The term “threats to the security of Canada” is defined by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and means:
- (a) espionage or sabotage that is against Canada or is detrimental to the interests of Canada or activities directed toward or in support of such espionage or sabotage,
- (b) foreign influenced activities within or relating to Canada that are detrimental to the interests of Canada and are clandestine or deceptive or involve a threat to any person,
- (c) activities within or relating to Canada directed toward or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political, religious or ideological objective within Canada or a foreign state, and
- (d) activities directed toward undermining by covert unlawful acts, or directed toward or intended ultimately to lead to the destruction or overthrow by violence of, the constitutionally established system of government in Canada,
but does not include lawful advocacy, protest or dissent, unless carried on in conjunction with any of the activities referred to in paragraphs (a) to (d).
Several witnesses for the federal government have however, claimed that while the above definition was not met, they acted on purported legal advice that the above definition of threats to security of Canada has a different and broader meaning under Emergencies Act. Section 16 of the Emergencies Act specifically states that “threats to the security of Canada has the meaning assigned by section 2 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act.” The federal government has refused to provide the purported legal advice it relied on, claiming solicitor client privilege and cabinet confidentiality.
The Commission continues next week with a series of round-table policy discussions, with participation from counsel for the Justice Centre.