Commissioner Paul Rouleau has delivered his statement on the POEC Inquiry, tasked with examining the measures taken by the federal government for invoking the Emergencies Act in response to the Freedom Convoy more than a year ago in Ottawa.
Rouleau lauds the “thorough” and “comprehensive” report that met the deadline on procuring the report as laid out by parliament.
He describes invoking the Emergencies Act as a “significant event” that the public is privy to know about, hearing from dozens of experts, witnesses, and convoy organizers, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and senior Liberal cabinet ministers.
Rouleau said cabinet privilege was waived to disclose 28,000 documents, of which 9,000 entered into evidence.
“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.
He said the protests were rooted in a “loss of faith in government” and “economic hardship” caused by the government’s COVID government response.
Rouleau said the proliferation of protests against the government in “peaceful demonstrations” came as a surprise to him.
He acknowledged a “diversity” of views among the protestors, of which some supposedly desired to commit “dangerous acts” including an ‘occupation’ of the nation’s capital, and border blockades, including that of Coutts, Alberta.
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.”
However, Rouleau admitted that other “reasonable and informed people” could come to different conclusions on invoking the Act, as it is not a “tool of convenience” but a “tool of last resort.”
He admitted its use is “regrettable” owing to several policing failures in their response to events to the Convoy that “spun out of control.”
Rouleau also criticized the government for not adequately preparing for the Freedom Convoy, which he said could have avoided the measures taken under the Emergencies Act.
The report provides a collection of 56 recommendations in response to the affair that occurred more than one year ago. You can read the entire report here.