Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc outlined some of the progress being made in response to recommendations made following the Emergencies Act inquiry in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday.
But the letter makes it clear that much of the government’s response remains a work in progress.
Commissioner Paul Rouleau’s report is the result of weeks of testimony and document a**lysis, which culminated in the conclusion that the Liberal government had reached the threshold required to invoke the Emergencies Act in the winter of 2022 to respond to demonstrations by the “Freedom Convoy”.
Rouleau made 56 recommendations in his February 17, 2023 report summarizing the investigation, many of which targeted the lack of action and coordination between police, intelligence and security services.
LeBlanc divided his status report into six sections, detailing the actions taken by the federal government so far. However, some of the elements contained in his letter were measures implemented even before the protests took place, such as the role of the national security and intelligence adviser which aims to “enhance Canada’s intelligence efforts”. .
The Minister noted that the RCMP is exploring ways to improve policing of public order events and collaboration between police forces and relevant law enforcement agencies. This was a major point of frustration and contention for Ottawa residents, who repeatedly stated during the investigation that they felt law enforcement failed to take serious threat from the convoy.
He said his department was working with the RCMP to a*sess its contract policing program as contracts expire in 2032, which he said was an opportunity to get feedback from partners and stakeholders.
LeBlanc said Transport Canada is working to better identify and protect key transportation corridors and infrastructure, both of which were targeted during the convoy. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has also updated and improved its border management plans, LeBlanc wrote, with 11 ports of entry making improvements to their infrastructure.
The creation of a new National Security Council was also mentioned in the letter, which LeBlanc said would give ministers the ability to “deliberate and resolve issues of concern to Canada’s national and international security.”
However, it is unclear exactly what such a body would do, or what information might be shared there that might not already be shared with ministers under cabinet secrecy, through Cabinet committees or through the intermediary of the incident response group.
LeBlanc said the Privy Council Office is also working to respond to recommendations about whether Ottawa should consider a*signing a federal institution responsibility for monitoring and reporting on social media information “for appropriate purposes and with due diligence.” appropriate safeguards”, but he did not. specify how far this can go.
The longtime MP and former intergovernmental affairs minister said half of the commission’s recommendations had intergovernmental implications, such as developing standards and protocols around policing and improving protection critical infrastructure.
To address one of the main ways the protests have spread — online — LeBlanc wrote about what the government has already put in place to combat misinformation and misinformation, such as its Digital Citizen Initiative which, according to him, strengthens the “resilience of citizens against online disinformation” and funds research. understand the spread and impact of misinformation online.
He also highlighted the creation of a democracy protection unit within the Privy Council Office, which secured $10 million in funding earlier this year.
LeBlanc wrote in his letter that the federal government was “seriously” considering the commission’s 22 recommendations to modernize the Emergencies Act and would provide more details in its official response next year.
Under the law, temporary measures could be put in place such as banning public gatherings, designating safe places, ordering banks to freeze a*sets and banning support for participants. The federal government argued that the extraordinary measures were targeted, proportionate and consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Although Rouleau’s report concluded that the invocation was justified, it concluded that it was an emergency that could have been avoided.
“The fact that circumstances have evolved to the point where Cabinet reasonably thought it necessary to invoke the law is regrettable because, in my view, the situation which led to its use could probably have been avoided,” he said. told reporters in February.
The report also questions some specific powers, such as the proposal to suspend car insurance for protesters.
Thursday’s recommendations come as a legal challenge to the law is still before a federal court, which heard arguments in April.
LeBlanc told Trudeau in his letter that a “comprehensive government response” would be presented in February 2024.
— with files from The Canadian Press and Aaron D’Andrea, Sean Boynton and Alex Boutilier of PKBNEWS
© 2023 PKBNEWS, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.