Alberta’s government will be participating in the federal Emergencies Act inquiry starting on Thursday.
In a Wednesday afternoon statement, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said the province was granted full standing to actively participate in all aspects of the inquiry.
Public hearings are set to begin this Thursday in downtown Ottawa and will run to the end of November, according to the Public Order Emergency Commission. More than 60 witnesses are expected to testify, which includes high-profile protesters, law enforcement, cabinet ministers and people impacted by the occupation.
Previously, the Federal Court of Canada granted Alberta intervener status in four legal challenges against the Emergencies Act. It would allow the government of Alberta to intervene on non-constitutional and constitutional issues raised before the court.
It also comes after former premier Jason Kenney filed a request for a judicial review of the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act in February. Kenney had always been critical of the Emergencies Act, which was invoked by the federal government in response to convoy protests in Ottawa.
He called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s invocation of the act “disproportionate” and “unnecessary,” claiming the province already had the legislative tools necessary to stop the blockades. Kenney previously referenced the province’s Critical Infrastructure and Defence Act (CIDA), a bill that allows law enforcement to fine and arrest individuals blocking critical infrastructure such as highways and railroads.
“Alberta will demonstrate that the Coutts border blockade was effectively dealt with prior to the federal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act,” Shandro said.
“The decision to invoke the act violated the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Albertans and gave the federal government the ability to seize property without due process of law.”
Trudeau ‘very much looking forward’ to testifying at public inquiry into Emergencies Act
Trudeau maintained that it was necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act, a decision that was “not taken lightly.” He maintained that the Act was a “time-limited, measured way, to be able to get the situation back under control.”
“But part of that process is to ensure there is proper accountability and proper oversight after the fact, and that’s why there is a public inquiry into the use of the (Emergencies) Act, so that Canadians can understand what and how these powers were used,” Trudeau said in a press conference on Wednesday.
“That’s why, from the very beginning, I offered to the commission to appear at that commission so that Canadians could understand exactly why we had to do what we did.”
Premier Danielle Smith told 770 CHQR that she is supportive of the inquiry. She did not provide any additional details.
–With files from Rachel Gilmore, Global News.
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