The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has been granted full participatory standing at the inquiry being held into the declaration of the Emergencies Act by the federal government, in response to the February trucker convoy and protest in Ottawa and blockades at various border crossings across Canada. The Justice Centre will share its seat at the inquiry into the 2022 Public Order Emergency with The Democracy Fund and 12532239 Canada Centre (Citizens for Freedom).
On February 14, 2022, the Government of Canada declared a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act that was in effect until February 23, 2022. The Emergencies Act requires that an inquiry into the declaration of emergency be started within 60 days. By Order- in-Council dated April 25, 2022, the Government of Canada established the Public Order Emergency Commission to conduct the mandatory inquiry.
The Justice Centre “dispatched lawyers to Ottawa to provide pro bono legal advice to protesters. It also represented individuals identified as forming the leadership of the ‘Freedom Convoy,’” wrote Commissioner Paul Rouleau, in paragraph 111 of the Decision granting standing.
The Justice Centre, along with the Democracy Fund and Citizens for Freedom, will share full participatory standing at the Inquiry, which will include a seat at counsel table, the opportunity to make evidentiary, factual and legal submissions, submit policy papers, suggest and cross-examine witnesses, and/or participate in policy roundtables and deliberations.
The Justice Centre’s extensive experience in constitutional matters, a 10-plus year track record of outspoken defence of Charter rights and freedoms, and firsthand experience on the ground at the protests in Ottawa uniquely position the Justice Centre to contribute to the Inquiry and assist the Commission in its critically important work.
“The use of the Emergencies Act to disperse protesters is unprecedented,” says Justice Centre- lawyer Hatim Kheir. “Many stories circulated at the time which were used to justify the declaration of emergency have since been disproven. This Inquiry is an opportunity to make the truth about the freedom convoy public and hold the government accountable.”