Today the commission tasked with investigating Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to break up an illegal truck convoy known as the “freedom convoy” that caused chaos and disruption in Ottawa, released a 2,000-page report justifying the decision to do so. The commission, headed by Justice Paul Rouleau, concluded that the use of the Emergencies Act was justified.
“When we invoked the Emergencies Act, we were clear that it included the launch of a public inquiry to look at how and why we got there, and ensure transparency and accountability.
“Today, I welcome the report from the Honourable Paul S. Rouleau, Commissioner of the Public Order Emergency Commission, and I thank the Commission for its important, thoughtful work.
“The report of the Public Order Emergency Commission states that the very high threshold to invoke the Emergencies Act was met. The Commissioner found that what we experienced last year was a national emergency that threatened the security of Canadians. Our job as a government is always to keep people safe, and invoking the Emergencies Act was the necessary thing to do to protect people.” Said Prime Minister Trudeau
“I do not accept the evidence espoused by the organizers that they were never aware of harassment, intimidation, or other non-peaceful conduct by protesters.” Wrote Rouleau
The truck convoy, made up of protesters opposing vaccine mandates, had caused extensive disruption and brought the nation’s capital to a standstill. The convoy’s members blocked major highways and bridges, vandalized public and private property, and threatened the safety of law enforcement personnel and ordinary citizens. The situation quickly escalated, and it became clear that law enforcement alone could not control the situation. In response, Prime Minister Trudeau made the difficult decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to restore order and protect public safety.
“In my view, there was credible and compelling information supporting a reasonable belief that the definition of a threat to the security of Canada was met,” Wrote Rouleau
The financial cost of the convoy’s disruption was substantial, exceeding serval billions according to transport Canada. The closure of major highways and bridges disrupted the flow of goods and services across the country, resulting in economic losses for many businesses. The impact was felt most acutely in the transportation sector, as trucking companies struggled to get their goods to market on time. The convoy also caused significant delays in critical infrastructure projects, such as the construction of pipelines and roads.
In addition to the financial cost, the convoy’s disruption caused significant social and political upheaval. The threats of violence and the potential for the overthrow of the Canadian government created a sense of fear and uncertainty among the population. The disruption also caused significant psychological harm to those who were directly impacted by the convoy’s actions, including law enforcement personnel, business owners, and residents in affected areas.
Justice Rouleau’s report concludes that multiple factors led to the use of the Emergencies Act. These factors included the ongoing pandemic, misinformation regarding vaccines, and the failure of law enforcement to control the situation. The report recommends 56 changes to improve law enforcement operations, with 27 of these directed at improving how law enforcement handles large-scale protests.
The Emergencies Act, which replaced the War Measures Act in 1988, is a federal law that provides for the declaration of a national emergency and the implementation of emergency measures to protect public safety. The act is only invoked in extreme situations where other measures have failed and a national emergency threatens the safety and security of Canadians.
The report’s findings cast doubt on the opposition’s encouragement and emboldening of the convoy’s unlawful and disruptive behavior. The report’s recommendations for improving law enforcement operations may help prevent similar situations from occurring in the future, ensuring the safety and security of Canadians.