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Canadian gov't issues update on implementing Emergencies Act inquiry calls for change


Six months after the Emergencies Act inquiry's final report made dozens of recommendations for federal change, the government has presented a six-month progress report on steps taken so far, vowing a more comprehensive response will come in time for the one-year anniversary.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that was made public on Thursday, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc says work is underway, but he'll need six more months to more fulsomely address Public Order Emergency Commissioner Paul Rouleau's calls for change.

"The federal government is considering these recommendations carefully, particularly those that will improve collaboration between jurisdictions, support community safety, and help strengthen our capacity to respond to similar events of national significance in the future," reads the letter.

So far, the government says it has "made progress" on:

  • identifying and protecting critical trade and transportation corridors;
  • improving the security of the financial sector around the use of crypto assets, money laundering and terrorist financing; and
  • considering policing reforms including the RCMP reworking its information sharing capabilities across law enforcement.

"Our priority remains to keep Canadians safe and protect our democracy, jobs, supply chains, and our economy," LeBlanc said in a brief statement. "I will continue to work closely with my colleagues on these issues and will present a comprehensive Government Response in February 2024."

When the Public Order Emergency Commission released its five-volume report on Feb. 17, concluding that ultimately the federal government met the threshold for invoking the Emergencies Act, Trudeau promised to present a plan to respond to the report's findings within six months.

The deadline for the government to keep this pledge, was mid-August.

Commissioner Rouleau—who was tapped to lead what became an expansive probe into Trudeau's use of extraordinary national powers to bring an end to the "Freedom Convoy" protests and blockades—issued 56 recommendations for the federal government to consider. 

Rouleau's recommendations—aimed at learning from and avoiding similar occupations and blockages at key border crossings in the future—were broken down into six categories.

They included calls for change across levels of government on areas including policing, intelligence co-ordination and protecting critical trade infrastructure. The recommendations also included amendments to the Emergencies Act, and areas requiring further study.


Of the 56 calls for change, 27 recommendations focused on policing reforms, including cross-jurisdictional work to enhance protocols for information intelligence sharing that include clear lines of communication and responsibility, including on how to request additional law enforcement resources for major events.

LeBlanc's progress report notes the RCMP is "considering ways to improve policing during public order events," and an assessment of the Mounties’ contract policing program is underway, but that is not solely coming as a result of the convoy commission.

Rouleau suggested 22 changes to the "imperfect" 1988 Emergencies Act, but as of this update the government has nothing to say about whether legislative amendments—including scrapping the definition of what amounts to a threat to national security—are coming, beyond saying they are being given "thoughtful consideration."

Noting the intergovernmental collaboration needed to address many of the recommendations, LeBlanc said that discussions are underway at existing "engagement tables" about how to address areas of shared jurisdiction. LeBlanc has also written to the Solicitor General of Ontario "seeking to better understand Ontario’s intentions to consider the recommendations from the Commission’s report."

The government was also advised to study the impact of social media and misinformation on Canadians, and consider whether a federal department or agency should be responsible for monitoring and reporting on social media.

To this, LeBlanc's update offers a laundry list of misinformation initiatives the government has pursued over the years but offers little about further measures beyond the Privy Council Office "taking multiple steps" to address the commission's intelligence recommendations.

The minister also points to the yet-to-be-detailed new National Security Council that Trudeau is striking as another avenue to "enable ministers to deliberate on and address issues of pressing concern to Canada's domestic and international security." 

Rouleau had also asked that in its comprehensive public response, the federal government identify which recommendations it accepted and which it rejected, and provide a detailed timeline for implementing the changes that will be made as well as a thorough explanation for why other calls for action were being refused.

The minister said his main focus in preparing his full report will be maintaining public trust and confidence in the ability of all orders of government to work together, an objective that was strained during the initial response to the convoy and further tested during the weeks of testimony before the commission as further revelations about internal tensions were exposed. 




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