On Feb 14, 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made what might be the most controversial decision of his tenure, invoking the Emergencies Act to end a three-week occupation of downtown Ottawa by truckers protesting mandatory COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Proclaimed in 1988, the Emergencies Act is designed to give federal officials extraordinary powers in the event of threats to Canada’s national security that can’t be managed under existing laws. Trudeau used it to make the protest illegal, freeze the accounts and cancel the vehicle insurance of participants, requisition tow trucks to clear protestors from the streets, among other measures. The government defended the first-ever invocation of the act as just and necessary; several premiers and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association called it an assault on democratic rights and civil liberties. As required by the act, Trudeau appointed a commission of inquiry into its use. Last November, justice Paul Rouleau held six weeks of riveting hearings that included testimony by so-called Freedom Convoy organizers, police officials, cabinet ministers, and Trudeau himself
April 11, 2023
Award-winning author PAUL WELLS was a regular visitor to the inquiry. Witnesses described layer on layer of dysfunction and acrimony in every organization that converged on Parliament Hill — three levels of government, three police forces, and the protesters themselves. How does a society make crucial decisions when everyone is exhausted, nothing works, and the noise from the truck horns and the shouting is deafening? And how do the protagonists regroup to make their case in the sterile, weird environment of a public inquiry? That’s the story inside-a-story of the Emergency in Ottawa.
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