Trudeau to take stand at Emergencies Act inquiry, security tightens at inquiry

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau willtestify Friday at the public inquiry probing his government’s decision to invoke emergency powers in response to last winter’s weeks-long “Freedom Convoy” protests.
Trudeau’s testimony will cap six weeks of hearings at the Public Order Emergency Commission, which has already heard from seven Liberal ministers about why the Emergencies Act was invoked in response to demonstrations in downtown Ottawa and at several border crossings. 
The emergency declaration Feb. 14 — which ministers say was necessary because of risks to Canada’s security, economy and international reputation — allowed the government to extend special powers to police and financial institutions until it was revoked a week later. 
Trudeau arrived at the inquiry without much fanfare, entering the building through the parking garage accompanied by security. 
Members of the public attending the hearing and reporters covering it had to undergo tightened security screening, given Trudeau’s presence. 
The prime minister is likely to face questions about the legal advice his cabinet received on how to interpret the definition of a “threat to the security of Canada” that the Emergencies Act relies on. 
But the government has so far refused to waive solicitor-client privilege, which shields confidential advice from becoming public — an issue that a lawyer with the commission said earlier this week has resulted in a lack of transparency from the government.
The commission is taking place because it is required under oversight provisions in the Emergencies Act, with Commissioner Paul Rouleau expected to deliver a final report to Parliament by early next year. 
Most participants of last winter’s convoy blockades expressed anger toward Trudeau, waving flags and banners with an expletive by his name. 
For his part, Trudeau at the time referred to those protesting in Ottawa against his government and its COVID-19 health restrictions, such as mask and vaccine mandates, as the “fringe minority” who held “unacceptable views.”
The commission has heard that since the 2021 federal election, RCMP have been monitoring threats made against Trudeau from those who oppose COVID restrictions. 
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2022.

Stephanie Taylor and Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press