The Public Order Emergency Commission (also known at the Rouleau Commission) is now accepting comments from members of the public on their experiences, views, observations, and ideas about the federal government’s response to the Freedom Convoy and use of the Emergencies Act.
These public comments will be reviewed by the Commission in order for the Commission to carry out its mandate and fully appreciate how the federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act affected Canadians.
The Canadian Constitution Foundation is encouraging its supporters and all members of the public to submit comments to the Commission.
Submit your comment by email to: [email protected] or by mail to:
Public Order Emergency Commission
c/o Main Floor Security Desk
90 Sparks Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A3
Hearings begin on September 19, 2022. It is best to send your submission before that date, but submissions will continue to be accepted up until October 31, 2022.
We want your submission to matter. Remember that these submissions are NOT going to the government, to the Prime Minister, or to politicians. These submissions are being sent to an independent inquiry made up of lawyers and a respected judge. Don’t use bad language. Don’t make partisan or personal attacks. It will undermine your message and your credibility.
Guidance on how to send in a submission
Writing a public comment can be hard. These comments may be quoted in the hearings, or in the Commission’s final report. But it is imperative that the Commission hear from members of the public and understand the full impact on citizens of the federal government’s illegal and unconstitutional use of the Emergencies Act. This is your chance to tell your story.
The CCF encourages members of the public who are interested in sending in a submission to keep the following stylistic suggestions in mind:
- Start by addressing your letter “To The Public Order Emergency Commission”.
- Then begin your submission with your main message. Your main message could be an answer to one of the questions we outline below, or it could relate to your direct experience either as a participant in the protests or as an observer of the protests.
- Focus on the most important things you want the Commission to know.
- Submissions should be 1 to 2 pages.
- You can include supporting documents like photographs.
- Use respectful language. Do not include profanity in your submission or it will undermine your credibility.
- Avoid using partisan language. This issue is much larger than individual politicians.
- Submissions can be made anonymously. If you want to submit anonymously, it makes sense to explain why you are making that choice. If you are submitting anonymously, please note your country of residence.
- You may submit by handwritten letter by mailing to the address above. Please ensure your handwriting is legible.
- Remember that your submission may be referred to or quoted by the Commission either in the report or in the public hearings. Use language you would be proud to have attributed to you, even though no identifying information will be used without your express permission.
When considering your main message to the Commission, you can use the following questions to guide your thinking:
- Did the Emergencies Act make you afraid to attend other protests in the future, including protests on topics unrelated to the Freedom Convoy?
- Were you afraid to donate to any charities unrelated to the Freedom Convoy after the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act? Were you concerned that your financial information could be shared with the federal government if you donated to other charities?
- Were you personally involved in the Freedom Convoy protests, and if so, what was your experience like? How was your experience impacted by the invocation of the Emergencies Act? How do you feel about the protests and about the use of the Emergencies Act?
- If you were not involved in the protests, what were your views as an observer or person who was affected by the protests? What were your views of the police and government (municipal, provincial, federal) response?
- Are there any changes you would recommend to the Emergencies Act to ensure it is not abused again in the future?
- What is your view on whether the strict threshold set out in the Emergencies Act was met? Has the federal government provided a sufficient explanation about why existing law enforcement tools were insufficient?
The CCF also encourages supporters and members of the public to keep the following facts in mind when writing a submission:
- Emergency powers have a dark and troubled history in Canada. The Emergencies Act was enacted to replace the War Measures Act, which was abused by previous federal governments.
- In response to the abuse of the War Measures Act, the Emergencies Act was carefully crafted to set out a demanding set of legally binding conditions that must be satisfied before it can be invoked. Those conditions were not met in this case.
- The Emergencies Act has never been invoked before.
- The Emergencies Act gives the federal cabinet authority to create new criminal offences and police powers, without recourse to Parliament, without advance notice, and without public debate.
- The Emergencies Act poses the risk of executive overreach which could have profound effects on Canadian democracy. Because the Emergencies Act vests enormous power in the federal cabinet, it should be interpreted strictly.
- The Emergencies Act can only be invoked when there are no other legal tools available to deal with an ongoing situation that is urgent, temporary and national in scope. The February 2022 Freedom Convoy protests were cleared using ordinary police powers. In the CCF’s view, the invocation of the Emergencies Act was not absolutely necessary, as the Act requires.
- The Economic Measures enacted under the Emergencies Act required banks to disclose private banking information to police. This amounted to a warrantless and unreasonable search of private banking information.
- The Emergency Measures enacted under the Emergencies Act prohibited a very broad range of conduct, including generally acceptable and legal protest behaviour, breach of which was punishable by fines and imprisonment.
- The federal government has not provided an explanation for its invocation of the Emergencies Act beyond a simple declaratory statement that a public order emergency existed. The federal government is fighting the disclosure of documents that provide a record of why this law was invoked. In the CCF’s view, the federal government is not acting transparently, or explaining why this law was necessary. If the federal government refuses to provide an explanation, it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that no good explanation exists.