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Freedom Convoy

Inquiry into Liberal government’s use of Emergencies Act kicks off

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By David Fraser in Ottawa

The judge leading the public inquiry into the federal Liberal government’s unprecedented use of the Emergencies Act warned of tight timelines on Thursday as he urged everyone to work together to enlighten Canadians.

“Uncovering the truth is an important goal,” Commissioner Paul Rouleau said in his opening remarks to the Public Order Emergency Commission, which will take place over six weeks in downtown Ottawa.

“When difficult events occur that impact the lives of Canadians the public has a right to know what happened.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, seven federal ministers, police forces and officials from all levels of government as well as “Freedom Convoy” organizers are all expected to appear in the coming weeks.

Rouleau and his staff started the proceedings by explaining how the inquiry will work, including how documents and evidence will be presented, before witnesses begin testifying on Friday.

Rouleau said inquires like the one starting today are to learn from experience and make recommendations for the future.

“They do not make findings of criminal liability, they do not determine if individuals have committed a crime.”

Tamara Lich, who is facing criminal charges for her role organizing the convoy, was among those in the public viewing gallery as proceedings got underway.

The hearings in the building that houses Library and Archives Canada are being livestreamed and members of the public can share their views with the commission online.

Rouleau said the process getting to the start of the inquiry has been “challenging” in large part due to the amount of time.

“Discharging my mandate is not an easy task,” he said, later adding “timelines will be tight.”

He appealed to participants and their legal counsel to “work co-operatively” to ensure the facts are properly presented to the public.

In February, the Liberal government invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time since its introduction in 1988.

The government argued it was needed to end border blockades and the occupation of downtown Ottawa by protesters demonstrating against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, lockdowns and the Liberal government.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2022.

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COVID-19

Emergencies Act commission report to be delivered Feb. 20

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The federal commission looking into the Liberal government’s decision to use the Emergencies Act is being granted an extension to deliver its report to the cabinet and the public at the same time this month.

The Public Order Emergency Commission is investigating use of the act to end the “Freedom Convoy” protest, which paralyzed downtown Ottawa for more than three weeks in the winter of 2022.

Justice Paul Rouleau was given 360 days to deliver his report.

An order-in-council creating the commission has been changed to remove a Feb. 6 deadline to submit the report to the government.

The new deadline is Feb. 20, the final day allowed under law for the report to be given to Parliament and released to the public.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government invoked the Emergencies Act in February of last year, giving extraordinary powers to authorities to limit protesters’ movements and freeze bank accounts.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2023.

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Freedom Convoy

Convoy organizer says plans to stage a 2023 protest in Winnipeg are off

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Freedom Convoy 2.0 appears to be a bust.

Canada Unity, one of the anti-government protest groups behind the protests that headlined much of last year, is calling off its plans to restage the event this February.

Canada Unity founder James Bauder initially planned to bring a four-day blockade to Ottawa but then said it would be moved to Winnipeg.

Bauder now says in a Facebook post it’s not going to happen at all, citing security breaches and personal character attacks on him.

As the 2022 protest in Ottawa was forced to end last February Bauder was among dozens of people arrested and charged with mischief and various counts of disobeying police and court orders.

The first iteration of the Freedom Convoy blockaded downtown Ottawa for three weeks and shut down at least four border crossings, resulting in the federal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act for the first time.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 2, 2023.

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