The history-making inquiry into the federal government’s use of emergency powers to quell the convoy protest last winter is beginning to take shape ahead of its start later this week.
The Public Order Emergency Commission will begin public hearings on Thursday into the circumstances around the federal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act. It is expected to hear from 65 witnesses during its factual stage, including protest participants, law enforcement representatives, cabinet ministers, and officials with provincial and municipal governments, as well as businesses and organizations impacted by the protests.
On Tuesday, the commission released a list of anticipated witnesses, in the anticipated order of appearance.
1. Victoria De La Ronde
2. Ottawa resident Zexi Li, who helped secure an injunction against Freedom Convoy protesters
3. Nathalie Carrier, executive director of the Vanier BIA
4. Kevin McHale, executive director of the Sparks Street BIA
5. Catherine McKenney (outgoing City of Ottawa councillor)
6. Mathieu Fleury (outgoing City of Ottawa councillor)
7. Ottawa City Manager Steve Kanellakos
8. Serge Arpin (chief of staff to mayor of Ottawa)
9. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson
10. Diane Deans (outgoing City of Ottawa councillor)
11. Patricia Ferguson (acting deputy chief of Ottawa police)
12. Craig Abrams (Ontario Provincial Police member)
13. Retired chief superintendent Carson Pardy (Ontario Provincial Police)
14. Pat Morris (Ontario Provincial Police member)
15. Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell
16. Ottawa Police Insp. Russell Lucas
17. Marcel Beaudin (Ontario Provincial Police member)
18. Ottawa Police Insp. Robert Drummond
19. Ottawa Police Insp. Robert Bernier
20. Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique
21. Former Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly
22. Brigitte Belton, convoy protest organizer
23. James Bauder,convoy protest organizer
24. Steeve Charland, convoy protest participant
25. Patrick King, convoy protest participant
26. Benjamin Dichter, convoy protest organizer
27. Tom Marazzo, convoy protest organizer
28. Chris Barber, convoy protest organizer
29. Tamara Lich, , convoy protest organizer
30. Mayor of Windsor Drew Dilkens
31. Ontario Provincial Police Supt. Dana Earley
32. Interim Windsor Police Deputy Chief Jason Crowley
33. Mayor of the Village of Coutts Jim Willett
34. Fort McLeod Coun. Marco Van Huigenbos, protest organizer,
35. Marlin Degrand, assistant deputy minister at the Alberta Justice and Solicitor General department
36. Mario Di Tommaso, deputy solicitor general of Ontario
37. Ian Freeman, assistant deputy minister at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation
38. Rob Stewart, deputy minister at the federal Public Safety department
39. Dominic Rochon,
40. Canadian Security Intelligence Service Director David Vigneault
41. Michelle Tessier, assistant deputy minister with Public Safety’s national and cyber security branch
42. Marie-Hèlene Chayer, executive director of the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre
43. Deputy RCMP Commissioner Michael Duheme, responsible for federal policing
44. RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki
45. Deputy RCMP Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, commanding officer of Alberta
46. John Ossowski, former president of Canada Border Services Agency
47. Michael Keenan, deputy minister Transport Canada
48. Christian Dea, chief economist Transport Canada
49. Michael Sabia (Department of Finance)
50. Rhys Mendes (Department of Finance)
51. Isabelle Jacques (Department of Finance)
52. Cindy Termorhuizen (Global Affairs Canada)
53. Joe Comartin (Global Affairs Canada)
54. Jody Thomas (Privy Council Office)
55. Jacquie Bogden (Privy Council Office)
56. Janice Charette (Privy Council Office)
57. Nathalie Drouin (Privy Council Office)
58. Defence Minister Anita Anand
59. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino
60. Minister of Emergency Preparedness and President of the King’s Privy Council Bill Blair
61. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
62. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra
63. Justice Minister David Lametti
64. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc
65. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland
Former Ontario Superior Court justice Paul Rouleau has been chosen to lead the inquiry. He has been tasked with examining the circumstances leading up to the invocation of the Emergencies Act — a decision that continues to be politically divisive eight months later.
The act gave the government new powers to address the anti-vaccine mandate protesters that blocked main arteries around Parliament Hill with parked trucks and other vehicles for nearly a month.
Rouleau also has been directed through an order-in-council to offer “lessons learned” about the use of the act and to comment on the “appropriateness and effectiveness of the measures taken.”
Commission to kick off with document dump
According to a statement from the commission, Rouleau will begin the public hearings with an opening statement on Oct. 13, followed by presentations and overview reports by the commission’s lawyers.
The commission said the overview reports will include summaries of preliminary facts, which will be placed into evidence.
At Rouleau’s request, the Liberal government has waived cabinet confidence on documents related to its invocation of the act. It’s only the fourth time in Canada’s history that a public inquiry has been given access to such high-level documents.
It is not clear yet how — and if — those sensitive documents will be made public.
“The commission is about to embark on the public phase of the process of finding answers to the questions assigned to it by Parliament under the Emergencies Act. This critical phase will shed light on the events that led to the declaration of the public order emergency and fully explore the reasons advanced for the declaration,” Rouleau said in a statement Tuesday.
“I am confident that, with the co-operation of all of the parties, the hearings will provide a fair and thorough process for the presentation of the evidence required for the commission to be able to give the public the answers to which it is entitled.”
Hearings will take place at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa on Wellington Street, not far from the heart of the protests.
The first phase of the commission will meet for six weeks and is scheduled to wrap on Nov. 25. The next week the commission will begin a policy stage where it hosts roundtables with policy experts.
Rouleau’s final report is due Feb. 6.