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Trudeau gov't to respond to 'Freedom Convoy' commission findings; here's a refresher on the recommendations

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

The deadline on that pledge, made on Feb. 17, is this Friday.

Commissioner Paul 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 were broken down into six categories, and included calls for change across levels of government:

  • policing;
  • federal intelligence collection and co-ordination;
  • critical trade corridors and infrastructure;
  • changes to the Emergencies Act;
  • areas for further study; and
  • follow-up and accountability.

At the time, Trudeau had vowed to heed Rouleau's request to respond within a year of the report, but pressed by reporters he then committed to come forward with a plan to address the recommendations within six months.

"Because of the thoughtful work of the commission, there are lessons for everyone involved," Trudeau said this winter. "We will take seriously what the commissioner concludes and what he proposes."

Rouleau had also asked that in its comprehensive public response, the federal government to identify which recommendations it accepted and which it rejected, and to 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.

Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc's office confirmed to CTV News that it is aware of the self-imposed looming deadline and will have "more to say in the coming days."

Ahead of the federal government unveiling the plan forward, here's a refresher on some of the biggest federally-focused changes Rouleau wants to see made to avoid similar occupations and blockages at key border crossings in the future.

CENTRALIZED POLICE COMMAND?

Half of Rouleau's 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.

Rouleau also wants to see police consider the creation of a single national intelligence co-ordinator for major events of a national or interprovincial scale. He also suggested the RCMP consider leading an initiative for police services across the country to adopt a single command and control model.

The federal government should take the lead on examining "the scope and limitations on police powers in relation to protest activities," with the goal of clarifying the powers, perhaps through legislation or new protocols.

Consultations should also continue on whether changes should be made to how responsibilities for policing the National Capital Region should be divided between the various layers of policing that work in and around Parliament Hill.

UPDATING EMERGENCIES ACT

The second key area of focus of Rouleau's recommendations was on changes he think should be made to the Emergencies Act, passed in 1988.

The commissioner is calling for the reference to the CSIS Act's definition of "threats to the security of Canada" to be removed. This section was the cause of much consternation during the public hearings, after it came to light that CSIS didn't view the protests as a national security threat by definition, though Trudeau's national security adviser, and others, did.

The commissioner said he'd like to see an in-depth review of the part of the Act that focuses on public order emergencies, with a view to ensuring that the definition is modernized in order to capture the situations that could legitimately pose a serious risk to the public order now and in the future.

Other changes Rouleau wants to see made to the federal law for future potential invocations include:

  • extending the amount of time provided to future commissions to complete its work;
  • setting a requirement to consult with the territories and Indigenous communities;
  • providing the commissioner powers to compel information or documents; and
  • clarifying that a federal politicians can not claim parliamentary privilege to refuse to testify.

And, it's been recommended that the Act should be amended to clarify the mandate of the parliamentary review committee that operates separately from the commission, and to have that committee struck no later than seven days after the proclamation of an emergency.

STUDYING SOCIAL MEDIA, CRYPTO

A few of the other federally-focused recommendations the Trudeau government is expected to respond to include:

  • studying the impact of social media and misinformation on Canadians, with goal of addressing these and other online harms;
  • considering whether a federal department or agency should be responsible for monitoring and reporting on social media;
  • identifying critical trade corridors and infrastructure and work across jurisdictions to establish protocols to protect them; and
  • continuing its study into cryptocurrencies with information gleaned from the "Freedom Convoy" commission testimony.

Rouleau has also called for the government's response to all of these recommendations be referred to an "implementation committee," that parliamentarians would be able to decide on the mandate and composition of.

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