Government Fails To Justify Emergency Act: Public Commission Testimony

High ranking law enforcement officials confirmed under oath that Ottawa Convoy posed no threat to Canadians or national security.

The importance of The Public Order Emergency Commission: Trudeau Missed by Miles

Andrew DeBartolo

PM Justin Trudeau’s Response to the Freedom Convoy

From the moment the first trucks arrived on January 28th, 2022 to its climax, when officers began arresting and assaulting protestors on February 19th 2022, the Freedom Convoy was an entirely peaceful and positive protest. Convoy organizers actively worked with Ottawa police and Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to contain the protest to the capital’s main street, keeping emergency lanes open. Some remarked that the protest resembled an extended Canada Day celebration. The streets were filled with music and dancing, stay-at-home moms were waving Canadian flags with their children, and so much food was donated that people were feeding the homeless. Having experienced it myself, I can say that it was safe, peaceful, and driven by a spirit of Canadian unity.

I was and I remain very supportive of the Trucker Convoy, the protests in Ottawa, and the goals and methods of the movement. These brave men and women desired to speak to their government about the harshest lockdowns in Canadian history. They sought a diplomatic solution to government overreach and absurdity. Moreover, many who participated in the Convoy where Christians committed to a peaceful demonstration, to the preaching of the gospel, to feeding the homeless, and to seeking justice for fellow Canadians. My church fed hundreds of Canadian truck drivers as they stopped in Kingston on the way to Ottawa. I visited the capital with other pastors several times during the protest. The organizers of the Convoy gave me the opportunity to preach the gospel from the main stage in front of Parliament Hill. I spoke with countless people in Ottawa, many of whom traveled from other parts of the country.

Despite all of these peaceful intentions, and without a single diplomatic meeting with protest organizers, on February 14th, 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canadian history. The Emergencies Act is a statute that was passed by the Parliament of Canada in 1988 which authorizes the Government of Canada to take extraordinary temporary measures to respond to public welfare emergencies, public order emergencies, international emergencies, and war emergencies. The law replaces the War Measures Act passed in 1914. 

Following the invocation of the Act, the Federal government seized unprecedented powers to freeze the bank accounts for Convoy organizers and supporters, to fence off Parliament Hill (which historically is a piece of land set aside for Canadians to peacefully protest), and to call in police officers from across the nation to end the protest by force, which amounted to a cattle-like driving of the crowds with highly armed tactical units, sound grenades, and horse patrols that ran over some individuals.

Commission Testimonies

One of the legal consequences of invoking the Act was the triggering of the Public Order Emergency Commission (POEC). This is an important and required public investigation into the invoking of the Emergencies Act, as well as the circumstances that led to its invocation. On April 25, 2022, the Commission was tasked with determining if the threshold for invoking the Act was met. That threshold, a national emergency, is defined by our Federal Government as follows:

For the purposes of this Act, a national emergency is an urgent and critical situation of a temporary nature that

(a) seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it, or

(b) seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada and that cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada. 

(Emergencies Act, Section 3)

The POEC began on October 13th, 2002 and public hearings concluded on November 23rd, 2022. The Policy Phase (recommendations based on the hearing) began on November 28th, 2022. Below are key testimony highlights:

On Day 7, Chief Superintendent Carson Pardy, one of the most senior OPP officers involved in the policing effort during the Freedom Convoy, told Commission lawyers that officers, “did not need the Emergencies Act...There was a solution and we reached that solution...In my humble opinion we would have reached the same conclusion with the plan that we had without [the Act].”

On Day 21, Ontario Deputy Solicitor General Mario Di Tomasso was asked if he had public safety concerns about what was happening in Ottawa. He said, “No. I was still not seeing any significant serious violent crime concerns at all...I thought that the provincial emergency declaration and the orders that flowed from them were sufficient to assist the police in resolving both Ottawa and Windsor.”

On Day 22, a document from the Director of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), David Vigneault, told the federal cabinet, “At no point did the Service [CSIS] assess that the protests in Ottawa or elsewhere constituted a threat to national security as defined by Section 2 of the CSIS Act.”

On Day 24, internal Statistics Canada documents revealed, “Overall, the blocked border crossings appear to have had little impact on the aggregate values of Canadian imports and exports.”

On Day 26, Testimony revealed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Act as per the advice of the Clerk of the Privy Council, Janice Charette, and not based on a detailed threat assessment of the Freedom Convoy by law enforcement authorities.

On Day 28, Commission counsel asked Public Safety Minister, Marco Mendicino, “were you aware that it had been concluded that Section 2 of the CSIS Act was not met?” Mendicino replied, “Yes, I was aware that CSIS had concluded that Section 2 under the CSIS Act was not met. I was aware of that fact.”

On Day 31, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about evidence from Commissioner Lucki of the RCMP—that she had signed off on a plan to enforce and remove the protesters from Ottawa on February 13th, a plan in which she placed her confidence. When asked if this was a plan that Trudeau actually read himself, he responded, “I did not see it myself.”

Missed It By Miles

The first, and most painfully obvious fact to anyone who watched the hearings with any modicum of objectivity is that the invoking of the Emergencies Act was unjustified. Full stop. Testimony after testimony from the highest-ranking officers across all departments of Canadian law enforcement and security agreed that the threshold for invoking the act simply was not met.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to conclude that in large measure, the Act was invoked by the Prime Minister as part of his personal retaliation towards a portion of the population with whom he was growing impatient and intolerant:

The Prime Minister was questioned by Eva Chipiuk, one of the lawyers representing the Freedom Convoy organizers, about earlier statements he had made on a French-language TV interview regarding the unvaccinated: 

”A number of people have testified in this inquiry referencing your widely published comments calling the unvaccinated racist and misogynist...” 

“...and we have heard testimony in this inquiry about how some of your officials wanted to label protesters as terrorists.” 

"Would you agree with me that one of the most important roles of a prime minister is to unite Canadians and not divide them by engaging in name-calling?"

His response, under oath, was a blatant lie:

 "I did not call people who are unvaccinated names.”

In fact, our Prime Minister had done exactly that: “We all know people who are deciding whether or not they are willing to get vaccinated, and we will do our very best to try to convince them,” he said in the highly publicized television interview. “However, there is still a part of the population (that) is fiercely against it. They don’t believe in science/progress and are very often misogynistic and we tolerate these people?” 

The Convoy was falsely described by our Deputy Prime Minister, Ontario’s Premier, and countless other government officials as an “occupation,” a “siege,” and an “illegal protest.” The protestors in Ottawa were called “yahoos” and “wackos.” Some even likened Ottawa to the violent movie The Purge. Many claimed Ottawa citizens were being terrorized, with reports of violence, threats of violence, and even medical masks being ripped off individual’s faces. 

Convoy organizers and supporters were the target of an illegal data leak regarding their financial information. Many bank accounts were frozen. People were arrested without cause or due process. Pastors who stood praying for officers in Ottawa were then treated to beatings, tear gas, and arrests. Legacy media, government officials, and health bureaucrats continued to create smear campaigns about the Convoy and its protestors. And yet, testimony after testimony from the highest-ranking officers across all departments of Canadian law enforcement and security agreed that the threshold for invoking the act was not met.

In reality, both truckers and participants in the convoy displayed a wide ethnic, sex, and and language diversity. Homeschool moms brought their children, who safely played on bouncy castles, ate French toast, and sang “O Canada” at top volume. Countless Christians publicly prayed, sang hymns, and baptized new believers amid joyful outbursts of unity and celebration.

The truth is clear here—the invoking of the Emergencies Act was unjustified. The basic threshold for its invoking was not met, and every person qualified to make that assessment confessed this very fact. 

The Importance of these Public Commissions

The second observation that must be made about this situation is the importance of public commissions in Canada. Scripture teaches that honesty, impartial judges, and witness testimony are three central pieces to a just society.

It is a sin to give a false witness and testimony about another person (Exodus 20:16).

Slander is a mark of our former life before Christ saved us, and as such it must be “put away” (Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; 1 Peter 2:1).

Cross examination

Christians are not to be deceived or “duped” by worldly thinking or deceptive claims about what is true (Colossians 2:8).

The Gospel writer Luke examined and recorded events so as to provide an orderly and reliable historic account of the events of his day. These records have withstood millennia of scrutiny. So today we must become historians ourselves. To document and keep an historic record of truth.

While the Commission cannot rectify the injustices our government inflicted on the peaceful and lawful Convoy, nor offer the diplomatic negotiation or hearing of which its representatives were robbed, we now are provided the small consolation of insight into the breakdown of public discourse. Testimony and evidence was laid before the public that undermined, contradicted, and defied descriptions by the government and mass media, which labelled the Convoy a public “threat.” Yet through controlled messaging, our government insulated itself from any diplomatic responsibility by “othering” the Convoy. The public turned a hateful eye toward participants by falling for this rhetorical strategy. The Commission proves that those in the highest places of power—those who wield the sword of justice—will now enforce a political agenda with the same force previous generations might have wielded against genuine evil forces, and they will do so under the thin cover of biting, repetitive, and moralistic propaganda. Due process, truth, and personal liberty will be obsolete. Justin Trudeau and his cabinet have put Canadians on notice, essentially saying, “We, the government, are the truth.” His disregard for the historic record, and his ministerial enablers’ political axe-grinding are haunting harbingers of what is to come for our glorious nation, unless Canadians reassert our historic liberties and reassume our civic responsibility to protect and defend our legal and civic traditions.

Canadians on the side of liberty and our western heritage can respond in a twofold manner. First, study and assert the western liberal tradition. Examine the facts, weigh the moral value of public policy, speak out for truth and against propaganda. We have too long left these responsibilities to the elite—whether educators, elected officials, or broadcasters. Second, hold your elected officials responsible. Take these facts to his or her office, and demand a response. No matter the political party—each man or woman who holds Federal office must be made to answer for the findings of this Commission.

Change will happen when we gather the courage to demand it, and the character to uphold it.

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About the author

Andrew is the Teaching Elder at Encounter Church in Kingston, Ontario. He is also the co-host of the Liberty Dispatch podcast. He holds a Bachelor of Religious Education from Tyndale University.