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Fact check: Emergencies Act inquiry commissioner not related to Justin Trudeau

Despite numerous claims to the contrary, the judge who led the Public Order Emergency Commission (POEC) examining the federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act to end the “Freedom Convoy” protests last year is not related to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

High-profile social media accounts sympathetic to the protests have claimed that Justice Paul S. Rouleau was the brother-in-law of Suzette Trudeau, Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s older sister – wrongly suggesting he is related to the current prime minister by marriage.

Many online posts used the alleged relationship to suggest Rouleau’s role on the commission represented a conflict of interest, an attempt to discredit his final report, released Friday, that found it was appropriate for the government to invoke the Act to end the three-week protests that gridlocked Ottawa.

Rouleau does have a history of connections to the Liberal party, including a family tie to former prime minister Jean Chretien, but the POEC commissioner is not related to the Trudeau family.

In fact, Suzette Trudeau was married to a Montreal dentist named Pierre Rouleau, who did not have a sibling named Paul.

The erroneous claim was further complicated by the fact there was a Federal Court of Canada judge named Paul C. Rouleau from Cornwall, Ont., who died in 2007. He had sons named Pierre and Paul Jr.

An apparent misinterpretation of these facts led to what seems to be the first online post alleging a family relationship, published back in December.

The POEC commissioner grew up in Vanier, an Ottawa neighbourhood, and is the son of Dr. Roger Rouleau, who once served as the city’s coroner and died at age 52 in 1973. Paul S. Rouleau does not have a brother named Pierre. His two brothers, Jean and Guy, are both doctors in Montreal.

Further online claims that Rouleau has made donations to the Liberal Party of Canada appear to be based on Elections Canada data that shows a series of contributions from a different Paul Rouleau living in Port Colborne, Ont. Among them were a $400 contribution in December 2022, when the POEC commissioner was writing his report on the Emergencies Act.

In fact, the commissioner has lived in an upscale Toronto neighbourhood since 1993 and has never lived in Port Colborne. There is no record he has made any donations to the Liberal Party since becoming a judge in 2002. However, Elections Canada records show that Rouleau’s wife, Julie, made a $100 donation to federal Liberal leadership contender Gerard Kennedy in 2006.

After finishing law school, Rouleau did work in the office of Liberal prime minister John Turner before continuing his law career.

Rouleau’s aunt Jacqueline married into the powerful Desmarais family, and her son Andre married France Chretien, daughter of the former Liberal prime minister.

Rouleau was named a judge on the Ontario Superior Court in 2002, under then-prime minister Chretien’s government. He was later elevated to the Ontario Court of Appeal by former prime minister Paul Martin’s government, and was also named a deputy judge on Yukon’s Supreme Court in 2014, under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

The Trudeau government named him a deputy judge on the supreme courts of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories in 2017, and last year selected him to lead the commission of inquiry that is required under the Emergencies Act. 


Paul Rouleau was named a deputy judge on the supreme courts of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories in 2017, not the Yukon as previously stated.



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