Contrary to statements by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has revealed that the federal police force did not request the government invoke the Emergencies Act to deal with the Ottawa Freedom Convoy protests in February.
Lucki made the statement while appearing before the parliamentary committee tasked with investigating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unprecedented use of the law.
“We were the ones who would be using those authorities so we were consulted to see if they would be of any use to police,” Lucki told Parliamentarians. “The measures enacted under the emergencies act provided all police officers across the country, not just the RCMP, with the ability to deal with blockades and unlawful public assemblies.”
Although Lucki claimed that the act was helpful for law enforcement to crack down on protestors, the RCMP did not specifically request for it to be invoked.
Lucki’s testimony appears to contradict statements delivered by Trudeau in the House of Commons.
“When illegal blockades hurt workers and endangered public safety, police were clear that they needed tools not held by any federal, provincial or territorial law,” Trudeau said. “It was only after we got advice from law enforcement that we invoked the Emergencies Act.”
Lucki appeared alongside CSIS Director David Vigneault on Tuesday night. When both witnesses were asked what information they were allowed to provide to the inquiry, they skirted the questions.
“I feel like the seriousness of this committee is undermined, when we don’t get the frankness and the concise and full information that we deserve,” said NDP MP Matthew Green. “Having you dance around the question, when I asked a specific question, in my opinion is not you being frank.”
Critics have accused the Trudeau government of putting on a charade by limiting the scope of the mandatory inquiry into Trudeau’s use of the Emergencies Act.
Questions have been raised about the objectivity of the judge appointed to oversee the investigation – Ontario Appeal Court Justice Paul Rouleau – who was a former Liberal donor and political aide for the party.
Liberal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has also cited cabinet confidence in an attempt to prevent the disclosure of the information the federal government relied on to justify use of the act.
Recently, the author of the Emergencies Act, former defence minister Perrin Beatty, called for “extraordinary accountability” from the federal government over its use of the act.
“Was invoking the act the right thing to do in the first place? Did it meet the high threshold that was anticipated, that was required under the act?” Beatty asked.
“The only thing that I can say, as the author of the act, is that wherever you have extraordinary powers, there must be extraordinary accountability.”