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Onus is on government to justify police powers used against Freedom Convoy: Civil Liberties

Carla Zwibel, Director of the Canandian Civil Liberties Association speaks at a press conference in advance of the October 13th start of the Public Order Emergencies Commission inquiry in Ottawa. Photo: CPAC

The onus is on cabinet to justify extraordinary police powers used against the Freedom Convoy, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said in a press conference on October 12th.

“The government has yet to prove the legal threshold to invoke the Act was met. The burden is on them, not the other way around. That is what we will be focusing on at the Commission,” Carla Zwibel, Director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

The Public Order Emergency Commission proceedings will be livestreamed then archived on the Commission website. Documents made public at hearings will be posted for the public to download.

Submissions from the public will be accepted by the Commission until October 31, 2022. Members of the public can make a submission to the Commission, with instructions on how to do this on the Commission website.

“I do have concerns about the level of transparency the federal government has been displaying throughout this process,” replied Zwibel.

As reported in Blacklock’s Reporter, Zwibel said she suspected cabinet invoked the Act not as a proportional response to a legitimate threat but to frighten Freedom Convoy sympathizers. “The government may have used the confusion that the breadth of those orders engendered to their benefit,” she said.

“I think Canadians weren’t sure about, ‘If I’m donating money are my assets going to be frozen?’” said Zwibel. “That is something Canadians were unsure about. I don’t think the government took much time to really clarify that because I think the goal was they wanted to stop people from donating. They wanted to stop people from contributing to these causes. They wanted to stop people from protesting, even protesting that didn’t interfere in the way that many of the Ottawa protests did.”

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino repeatedly claimed cabinet acted on the recommendation of police when it invoked the Emergencies Act. “We did so on the basis of non-partisan professional advice from law enforcement,” Mendicino told the Commons last February 28. To date, no police have corroborated Mendicino’s claim, and in fact former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly told a special Parliamentary Committee that Convoy organizers actively worked with police to plan where trucks would be allowed to park on Parliament Hill, and how many would be allowed.