KAWARTHA LAKES-The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is joining with a diverse group of civil society organizations to call on the Federal Government’s inquiry into the evoking of the Emergencies Act to have broad terms of reference and include the power to compel witnesses and the production of documents.
“Let’s be crystal clear: an inquiry that does not include the sworn testimony of the major players involved and the production of documents is a sham,” said Cara Zwibel, Director of Fundamental Freedoms for the CCLA.
The coalition includes Amnesty International Canada (English Speaking), Black Legal Action Centre, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, National Council of Canadian Muslims, Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, World Press Freedom and more.
“We are concerned with the use of state and police powers to suppress constitutional rights, especially given how, historically, such powers have been used disproportionately against Indigenous, Black and other marginalized communities. With so much taking place behind the closed doors of Cabinet meetings, it is vital that our accountability processes are put to good use.” said a joint statement from the coalition.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time ever on February 14th saying it was necessary to give the federal government the power to end a protest on Parliament Hill.
“It is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement’s ability to effectively enforce the law,” Trudeau told a news conference at the time. “It is no longer a lawful protest at a disagreement over government policy. It is now an illegal occupation. It’s time for people to go home.”
A number of human rights groups thought the move went too far.
“The people of Canada deserve to hear from their officials about why they took the steps they did. They deserve accountability and Canadians are owed the truth as to why their civil liberties were suspended.” says Zwibel.
“We need broad terms of reference and for the inquiry to truly be independent – Cabinet should consult with opposition parties and seek their approval for who will be appointed. The government should also be prepared to invest the resources necessary for a full and thorough inquiry and report. Moreover, the inquiry must be transparent and its proceedings must be open to the public,” she concluded.