Top Mountie, PM’s intelligence adviser testifying this week before Emergencies Act inquiry | CBC News


The head of the RCMP and the prime minister’s national security and intelligence adviser will testify before the Emergencies Act inquiry this week.

The Public Order Emergency Commission was established to determine if the federal government was justified in its decision to, for the first time ever, invoke the Emergencies Act — which it used to give police extraordinary powers to break up last winter’s protests against pandemic restrictions.

So far, the commission has heard from the Ottawa Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police, municipal and provincial officials and some of the protest organizers themselves.

This week, the commission will start to hear from federal officials.

On Monday, the commission will hear from two civil servants who had top roles in the federal Department of Public Safety during last winter’s convoy protest, which gridlocked parts of downtown Ottawa for nearly three weeks.

Rob Stewart was the deputy minister while Dominic Rochon was senior assistant deputy minister of the department’s national security and cyber security sector.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki looks on during Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

They’ll be followed by Cindy Termorshuizen, assistant deputy minister at Global Affairs Canada, and Joe Comartin, former Canadian consul general in Detroit, who are expected to reflect on how the protests affected Canada’s international relationships.

Outside of Ottawa, protesters against COVID-19 restrictions also blocked access to the border crossing in Coutts, Alta. and tied up the Ambassador Bridge, both vital commercial routes between Canada and the U.S.

Later in the week, the commission will hear from RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and other Mounties.

Some of Lucki’s texts with her Ontario Provincial Police counterpart have been presented to the commission already.

She wrote that the federal government was already losing confidence in the Ottawa police just one week into the protests.

“Between you and I only, (Government of Canada) is losing (or) lost confidence in OPS, we gotta get to safe action (or) enforcement,” Lucki texted OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique.

“‘Cause if they go the Emergency Measures Act, you or (I) may be brought into lead, not something I want.”

Jody Thomas, national security and intelligence adviser to the prime minister, arrives at the West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki (the top Mountie in Alberta), the RCMP’s head of federal policing Michael Duheme and former head of the Canada Border Services Agency John Ossowski are also on the witness list.

In its penultimate week, the commission will also hear from Jody Thomas, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national security intelligence adviser, who has publicly defended the decision to use the act.

She told a March 10 security and defence conference that protesters were “dug in” and “there’s no doubt [they] came to overthrow the government.”

In order to declare a public order emergency, the Emergencies Act requires that there be “an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada that are so serious as to be a national emergency.”

Witnesses rounding out the week include:

  • Michael Keenan, deputy minister at Transport Canada.

  • Christian Dea, chief economist at Transport Canada.

  • Michael Sabia, deputy minister at the Department of Finance Canada.

  • Rhys Mendes, assistant deputy minister at the Department of Finance Canada.

  • Isabelle Jacques, assistant deputy minister at the Department of Finance Canada.

  • Jacquie Bogden, deputy secretary to the cabinet on emergency preparedness and COVID recovery.

  • Janice Charette, clerk of the Privy Council.

  • Nathalie Drouin, deputy clerk of the Privy Council 

The commission finishes hearing from witnesses on Nov. 25.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and Prime Minister Trudeau will all testify in the final week.

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