Commissioner Paul Rouleau delivered his long-awaited report on the POEC inquiry, tasked with examining the measures taken by the federal government in invoking the Emergencies Act in response to the Freedom Convoy more than a year ago in Ottawa.
Rouleau lauded the "thorough" and "comprehensive" report that met the deadline for procuring the report as laid out by Parliament.
According to documents released on the POEC report, the assessment of the Emergencies Act was considered "appropriate" and "effective" as the feds had "reasonable grounds" to necessitate the taking of "special temporary measures," citing "threats to national security."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also issued a response to the conclusions of the POEC report, claiming it is a "necessity" to "ensure transparency and accountability" in the federal government's handling of widespread protests, especially the demonstrations in the nation's capital last February.
Trudeau lauded the commission's work as "very important," as it laid a road map for lessons to learn for future emergencies.
He said his government would take the conclusion of the POEC report seriously.
The prime minister ultimately welcomed the report's verdict but said, "everyone has the right to protest peacefully," a right he claims his government will "always protect."
Despite concerns posed by Rouleau in implementing the Emergencies Act, Trudeau claimed that "lawful protests embraced lawlessness," citing several border blockades and the Ottawa 'occupation.'
He also claimed that the risk of "ideologically motivated extremism" posed a "volatile, out of control" threat to Canadians.
However, Rouleau admitted in his findings that several media outlets spread "misinformation" about the Freedom Convoy, which the federal government did not address during Friday's press conference.
Moreover, Trudeau added that invoking the Emergencies Act was a "measure of last resort" but "necessary" to counter the risk of people "losing faith in the rule of law."
"Responsible leadership required us to restore peace and order," said Trudeau.
Following the prime minister's remarks, a reporter asked whether freezing bank accounts was appropriate for the government.
Freeland responded that the financial measures were "a powerful tool to disincentivize protest … and shrink the size of the [Convoy]."
She cited their "overriding objective" to protect Canadians and admitted that her government has lessons to learn
Another reporter asked if invoking the Emergencies Act was a failure of federalism.
Trudeau responded that invoking the Act was "undesirable" but cited Rouleau had concluded the feds met the "high bar" in its implementation.
"Throughout the process, we saw that there were times when the provinces could have done things differently and could have cooperated better with the federal government," he said, admitting that the feds could have been better partners in federation with the provinces too."
Rouleau acknowledged that the protests were rooted in a "loss of faith in government" and "economic hardship" caused by the government's COVID response.
Trudeau did not commit to a timeline for reviewing the Act Friday to ensure greater accountability in future emergencies but said he would have worded his divisive rhetoric towards peaceful protesters differently, who he admitted was "hurting."
Early Friday afternoon, Rouleau said the proliferation of protests against the government in "peaceful demonstrations" surprised him.
He acknowledged a "diversity" of views among the protestors. Some supposedly desired to commit "dangerous acts," including an 'occupation' of the nation's capital and border blockades, including that of Coutts, Alberta.
Rouleau waived cabinet privilege to disclose 28,000 documents - of which 9,000 entered into evidence for the report - for the public to formulate their own opinions on the Freedom Convoy.
"Thousands of people watched the proceedings … and the public has been exposed to an incredible amount of information," said Rouleau, adding it has enabled people to inform their opinions on the Freedom Convoy and the government response to the weeks-long protests.
Friday's report compiled a list of 56 recommendations in response to the Freedom Convoy last year in Ottawa.
Trudeau said his government would look to have an action plan in place in the coming months to "seriously consider" the recommendations of the POEC report.