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Canada right to use emergency powers on truckers: probe

#Canada #emergency #powers #truckers #probe

A public inquiry on Friday found Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was right to use emergency powers to dislodge trucker-led protesters that jammed Canada’s capital last year.

The self-styled “Freedom Convoy” of truckers rolled into the city last January from across Canada to express anger at Covid vaccine mandates, blocking trade routes and angering residents in downtown Ottawa.

“After a careful reflection, I have concluded that the very high threshold required for invocation of (the emergency measures) was met,” former judge Paul Rouleau, who led the review, told a news conference.

He cited an out-of-control situation plagued by a policing breakdown and escalating threats of violence.

Trudeau’s cabinet, he added in a 2,092-page report, faced “exceptional” circumstances that were “worsening and at risk of becoming dangerous and unmanageable.”

He said there was information before the cabinet “indicating a threat of serious violence for a political or ideological purpose. Ideologically motivated extremists… were present at and encouraging the protests.”

There had also been “numerous threats” against officials including the prime minister, Rouleau said.

As such, “the invocation of the act was appropriate,” he concluded.

The Public Order Emergency Commission was mandated to assess the appropriateness and effectiveness of the measures taken by the government in February 2022 to deal with the protests that had brought Ottawa to a standstill for weeks and disrupted international trade.

– ‘Tinder box’ –

During hearings last fall, the commission heard from officials, protest leaders and Ottawa residents impacted by the big rigs’ gathering, including traffic blockages, nearly incessant honking and diesel fumes.

Former Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly described the scene as a “tinder box waiting to explode.” 

He resigned during the crisis over what the commission heard was a disorganized police response, including intelligence failures and leaks.

Rouleau found that these policing failures “contributed to a situation that spun out of control. Lawful protests descended into lawlessness, culminating in a national emergency.”

Convoy organizers, however, painted a much different picture, calling their actions legitimate pushback against “evil” government policies and describing a festive atmosphere in front of Parliament, with hot tubs, bouncy castles and barbecues.

“We weren’t there to disrupt the city residents,” trucker Brigitte Belton told the inquiry. “We were there to be heard.”

As solidarity rallies popped up — blocking trade corridors including a bridge to Detroit that is the busiest international crossing in North America — their demands expanded to a broader rejection of pandemic restrictions and an anti-establishment agenda.

The use of extraordinary powers of the act to remove the protests and blockades was criticized as overreach by political opponents and civil liberties groups.

But Trudeau insisted on the witness stand that invoking the Emergencies Act “was the right thing to do.”

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#Canada #emergency #powers #truckers #probe

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