Ottawa, Ontario: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms looks forward to the release of the Public Order Emergency Commission’s Report, which is expected to be tabled before Parliament at 12pm EST today.
The POEC is a Commission of Inquiry into the invocation of the Emergencies Act by the federal government on February 14, 2022 in response to protests in Ottawa and elsewhere across Canada. The Justice Centre was granted participatory standing at the Inquiry and was represented at the Commission hearings by lawyers Rob Kittredge and Hatim Kheir.
The POEC Report will be released in full to counsel and the public shortly after it is tabled in Parliament and will be available on the POEC website.
Members of the media attending an in-person lock-up in Ottawa will have early access to the Report beginning at 10am EST this morning but will be prohibited from reporting on the document until it is tabled in Parliament.
The Justice Centre argued that circumstances leading up to the invocation of the Emergencies Act did not meet the threshold set out in the statute for a declaration of emergency. In order to lawfully declare a public order emergency, the Act requires that there be “threats to the security of Canada” (as that term is defined in the CSIS Act), so serious as to be a “national emergency” which cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.
The Justice Centre filed closing submissions arguing that in seven weeks of hearings, the Government of Canada failed to show that this threshold was met, and that the invocation of the Act was therefore unlawful.
Rob Kittredge, counsel for the Justice Centre, said today, “We are proud of the work that the Justice Centre and other civil liberties organizations did throughout the Commission process, and are optimistic that the Commissioner will agree that the Government acted unlawfully when it invoked the Emergencies Act. The protests in Ottawa and elsewhere were not a ‘national emergency’ as defined in the Act, and could have been addressed without infringing on the Constitutionally protected rights of all Canadians.”
The Justice Centre will have further comment once the report has been reviewed.