No blame for the Trudeau government in the Rouleau report

No blame for the Trudeau government in the Rouleau report

No blame ;me for the Trudeau government in the Rouleau report

Adrian Wyld Archives The Canadian Press Judge Paul Rouleau delivered his verdict on Friday after hearing from 76 witnesses including police, protesters, civil servants and politicians municipal and federal, as well as a whole series of experts.

Justice Paul Rouleau explicitly approves of the federal government's invocation of emergency measures to end last winter's Freedom Ride, an event dubbed a “national crisis” that showed a “failure of federalism.” p>

“The decision to invoke the law was appropriate,” Franco-Ontarian Judge Paul Rouleau ruled in a much-anticipated report tabled in Parliament on Friday.

According to him, “the very high threshold for invoking the law has been met”, although he comes to this conclusion “reluctantly”. This was the first time the Emergencies Act had undergone such a mandatory review, as the law had never been used in nearly 35 years of existence.

The emergency measures were imposed nine days from February 14, 2022, and gave law enforcement additional powers, such as freezing protesters' bank accounts and commandeering heavy tow trucks. A year later, Justice Rouleau concluded that the invocation of the Act had above all a deterrent effect, by discouraging protesters from continuing to blockade Ottawa.

The right to protest peacefully guaranteed by the constitution has limits, we can read. “I do not accept the descriptions made by the organizers that the demonstrations in Ottawa were lawful, calm and peaceful or resembled a celebration. [From the first Monday] the gathering was no longer peaceful given the widespread intimidation of residents and the fact that their ability to live and work had been fundamentally disrupted,” wrote Justice Rouleau. The “dangerous and chaotic” situation was beyond the control of the organizers.

The freezing of bank accounts was a reasonable measure, he judges, and the possibility of requisitioning tow trucks was an effective measure, but especially to allow the Ontario police to pass the bill to Ottawa.

Agree with Justin Trudeau

Police authorities were faced last year with a situation that “degenerated and risked becoming dangerous and unmanageable”, after the three-week occupation of the Canadian capital by this vast protest movement against sanitary measures, which joined many Quebecers from January 29, 2022.

The commissioner thus accredits the main argument of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during his testimony in November, according to which the situation was becoming more and more explosive when resorting to emergency measures. The crisis had then reached national proportions, as evidenced by the many demonstrations of support organized in other provinces during the month of February.

“It is regrettable that such a situation has occurred, because in my opinion it could have been avoided […] Legal demonstrations have sunk into illegality, to the point of provoking a situation of national crisis”, can we read in the imposing document of more than 3200 pages taking up five volumes.

Commissioner Rouleau believes that this slippage is the consequence of an “inability to foresee such a moment and to properly manage legitimate demonstrations” . He believes that better collaboration between the levels of government would have made it possible to avoid chaos, in particular by talking to the demonstrators. An expert who called the case a “failure of federalism” had the right words, writes the Franco-Ontarian judge.

In particular, it recommends improving collaboration between police forces, and broadening the definition of a threat to national security in the Emergencies Act to move away from the narrow description of the Intelligence Service Act. Security (CSIS). The commissioner is sorry that the premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, refused to testify during the investigation, without more.

Police failure

Judge Paul Rouleau severely blames the police forces. Former Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly would have trusted his subordinates and would not have seen the slippages of the Convoy coming. Before the arrival of the heavyweights in Ottawa, Le Devoir had nevertheless reported that its participants wanted to stay there for days, or even weeks, until the federal government waived its vaccination and health obligations. .

“Much of the disorder in Ottawa was the result of the OPS [Ottawa Police Service] mistaken belief about the duration of the protests,” the report details.

Ex-Chief Sloly n had “not developed a comprehensive operational plan to end the protests”. Instead, he drafted a policing protocol described by Justice Rouleau as a “sub-plan”, which gave his partners the mistaken impression that there was in fact a plan.

Justice Rouleau also recommends that the Canadian government conduct a review of how federal intelligence agencies share their information with other levels of government.

The public hearings showed that problems of information sharing on the Freedom Convoy led the Ottawa police to rely on incomplete reports, of questionable professionalism, when reports by provincial agents on the activities of the protesters were accessible to them.

The provinces should also be consulted during the next invocation of emergency measures, notes the Rouleau report. Quebec, in particular, was opposed to this exceptional law applying on its territory. The judge believes that the Trudeau government could have geographically restricted the measures, although he accepts his explanations for having imposed them on the whole country.

After hearing 76 witnesses including police, protesters, civil servants and municipal and federal politicians, and then a host of pundits, Justice Rouleau came to the diagnosis that the Freedom Convoy's claims “have been shaped by an online landscape riddled with misinformation.”

The events of the winter, “a torrent of political protest and social unrest,” were extraordinary, “but not entirely unpredict[s],” the judge noted. According to him, all levels of government should now study the impact on society of misinformation present on social networks.