By COLLIN GALLANT on January 25, 2024.
Medicine Hat’s MP says the work of a Commons committee looking into the use of the Emergencies Act in 2022 will continue and could change now that a federal judgment has ruled against the government’s choice to use it to break up convoy protests.
Glen Motz, the MP for Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner, told the News he is not surprised by the court decision released Tuesday, and he wants to reconvene an all-party committee reviewing the matter.
“We (Conservatives on the committee) have argued at length that it didn’t meet the standard … not even close ,” said Motz this week in Medicine Hat. “Under this circumstance it didn’t meet (the requirements), and from the perspective of Canadians, I think it’s a good decision by the courts.”
This week a federal court justice ruled in favour of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and other groups that the government was heavy handed in invoking the Emergencies Act, which for a limited time allows cabinet to issue orders to protect public safety in times of crisis.
While it ruled that the use of the act in the specific case infringed on the constitutional rights of protesters, it did not declare the act itself unconstitutional. The government is expected to appeal.
Motz said this week that members of the Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency has requested briefings and to review reports and evidence on which the decision to use the Emergencies Act was based, but haven’t been successful.
The committee last met Nov. 21, 2023 when it discussed scheduling of its final report.
“There will be a report, but obviously there will a serious impact because of this,” said Motz. “We’ll reconvene in the near future and decide on how to move forward.”
He would like to see the committee reconvene next “to decide on how to move forward in light of the decision,” said Motz. “It doesn’t change our opinion; my colleague (Conservative MP and committee member) Larry Brock, we’ve been firm in our position that we heard and from the Rouleau Commission that the standard was not met.”
The joint committee is a requirement under the act to review actions of the government during the act’s implementation, which concluded in the weeks following that spring.
The Rouleau Commission last winter found the government met the standard required under the act, that extraordinary action was justified to remove a weeks-long protest near Parliament Hill in February 2022 and two border blockades.
On Tuesday, Deputy Prime minister Chrystia Freeland told The Canadian Press the government disagrees with the ruling, the country was facing significant disruption at the time, economic hardship due to border actions at Coutts and Windsor, Ont., and the court decision would be appealed to the Supreme Court.
In short order police moved in to clear the Ambassador Bridge and downtown Ottawa, while protestors largely left the Coutts protest after criminal arrests were made. Four men are awaiting trial on charges they conspired to murder RCMP officers.
Motz said he agrees with the ruling.
“There are sufficient laws in place at time to deal with the ‘Freedom Convoy’ which is what this was all about, and resolve it with the laws that were in place,” said Motz.
“I agree with that.
“The act lays out what the government must consider, but this government has kept that a secret and said they relied on a broader interpretation.”