What to expect when Trudeau testifies on the Emergency Act on Friday – The National


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dated: 2022-11-25 08:48:35 .

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will wrap up the Public Order Emergencies Commission hearings on Friday when he testifies about his decision to invoke the Emergency Act to quell the Freedom Convoy protests earlier this year.

The hearings have been going on for weeks, hearing from dozens of witnesses as part of their duty to analyze Trudeau’s justification for invoking the controversial legislation earlier this year.

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RCMP feared protesters in the convoy would target Trudeau and repeat the election threats

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  • RCMP feared protesters in the convoy would target Trudeau and repeat the election threats

During the investigation, the commission heard from law enforcement officials, Ottawa residents, Freedom Convoy protest organizers, intelligence agencies and numerous politicians. The investigation got heated from time to time – a bystander and a lawyer were kicked out of the room on different occasions.

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The highlight of the testimony so far comes as the prime minister, who announced the decision to invoke the emergency law on February 14, faces questions about his decision on Friday.

Here’s what you can expect.

What did Trudeau advise?

A significant moment in the investigation so far occurred when Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) David Vigneault testified that he had advised Trudeau to invoke the Emergency Act.

A lawyer for the convoy’s organizers, Brendan Miller, has questioned almost every day up to this point whether the convoy meets the CSIS Act’s definition of a threat to national security, which is used in the Emergency Act.

Vigneault confirmed during his testimony that the convoy did not meet the threshold of the CSIS Act – but advised Trudeau to invoke the law nonetheless.

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2:08 CSIS chief urged Trudeau to invoke emergency law during convoy, investigation says

A lawyer for the Commission asked if they understood Vigneault’s thinking correctly at the time: “If you take the broader definition and then look further, you get to the advice you gave the Prime Minister that you felt was necessary to focus on the work.” call.”

Vigneault added, “Yes, exactly.”

Trudeau is likely to be under pressure for this recommendation, as well as others he may have received, such as from his national security adviser Jody Thomas, which prompted him to invoke the law.

Was the convoy a threat to national security?

The Law on Emergency Situations was supposed to be a more restrained law on emergency situations than the one it replaced – the Law on War Measures. There are strict criteria for the circumstances in which its powers can be used.

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Trudeau expects extensive questions about whether the “Freedom Convoy” meets those criteria.

For a situation to be considered a public order emergency, it must meet the definition of a “threat to the security of Canada” as set out in the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service Act – the law that governs the powers of the country’s intelligence agency.

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CSIS chief advised Trudeau to invoke emergency law during convoy, investigation says

There are four possible scenarios that meet the definition of a “threat to the security of Canada” under the Act. “Legitimate” protests are out of the question.

  • Espionage or sabotage against Canada or to the detriment of the country’s interests
  • Foreign-influenced activities in or in connection with Canada that are harmful to the country’s interests, are covert or deceptive, or threaten people
  • Activities in or related to Canada that threaten, direct or use serious violence against any person or property to achieve political, ideological or religious goals in Canada or any other country
  • Activities aimed at undermining the constitutional system of government in Canada through covert illegal activities, or directed at, or intended to ultimately result in, the use of violence to destroy or overthrow the constitutional system of government.

The government formally stated its reasons for invoking the emergency law in an executive order in February. The government claimed the blockades were an emergency and those involved vowed to withdraw efforts to lift them, which officials believed included the use of “serious force” for “political or ideological ends”.

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Since the head of Canada’s intelligence agency has said the convoy is not a national security threat under the CSIS Act, but believes it poses a broader threat that warrants a “necessary” complaint, Trudeau is likely to seek more details on how he weighed those concerns.

Threats to the Prime Minister during the ‘Freedom Convoy’

Trudeau could also expect questions about his personal safety during the demonstration.

Law enforcement officials have expressed concern that protesters will try to find the prime minister if they take to the streets of Ottawa, according to Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) assessments presented as evidence during the Emergency Act investigation.

“It is possible that protesters will try to find out the prime minister’s whereabouts based on his itinerary or any open source information that publishes his whereabouts,” the document said.

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“The possibility of some people involved in the convoy visiting the prime minister’s place, provided the distance is reasonable, is possible if his location is made public.”

2:28 Emergency Law Inquiry: What Happened So Far Before Last Week?

Eventually, as the protesters began to arrive in large numbers, Trudeau and his family were taken to an undisclosed location for security reasons.

“We were worried that the blockade would target the prime minister,” Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino said on Tuesday.

He said there were “obvious criminal threats” to the “life and safety of recognizable public figures”.

It is possible that Trudeau could come under pressure because of his experience with these threats and be asked to provide more details about what actions have been taken in response to the risks.

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potential for politicization

It remains to be seen how political tensions could flare up on Friday.

The first half of the designated witness appearance is assigned to the commission’s legal counsel, while the second half is open to parties with standing to the inquiry — a group that includes provincial governments, advocacy groups and protest organizers.

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The lawyer for the organizers of the Freedom Convoy is facing a defamation lawsuit over the investigation’s claims

Commissioner Paul Rouleau frequently reminded the parties to be civil during the investigation. So far, one listener and one lawyer have been kicked out of the room – although their concerns were generally focused on the hearing itself, not the specific witness.

Nonetheless, the inquiry sent a reminder to anyone planning to attend Friday’s talks in person.

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“Commissioner Rouleau expects all participants to maintain the decorum of the hearing and that everyone in the hearing room will conduct themselves with respect at all times,” it said.

— with files from The Canadian Press


What to expect when Trudeau testifies on the Emergency Act on Friday – The National

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