Introductions started Oct 13, 2022, with the government of Canada represented by Robert MacKinnon. “The evidence will show that the invocation of the Emergencies Act was a reasonable, and necessary decision given the escalating, volatile and urgent circumstances across the country,” MacKinnon said.
“The evidence of government witnesses will outline the deliberate, step-by-step process in which careful consideration was given to all the available options which led to the declaration of a public order emergency as a matter of last resort.”
Lawyers for Saskatchewan and Alberta took a hard stand in their opening remarks making it clear
England says Alberta applied to take standing in the inquiry to show Canadians how they were able to effectively deal with the Coutts border blockade before the federal government decided to invoke the Emergencies Act.
Alberta believes the existing law enforcement tools that were already in place were completely sufficient and they were successfully used to peacefully restore the flow of traffic at the Coutts border crossing.
“None of the powers that were created under the federal Emergencies Act were necessary, nor were any of them used,” England said.
Alberta is also looking to hold the federal government accountable and believes the decision to invoke the emergency powers was decided before the first ministers call on February 14.
Alberta has been consistent with their message to hold the federal government accountable. Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said on Wednesday
“The decision to invoke the act violated the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Albertans and gave the federal government the ability to seize property without due process of law.”
“The unnecessary invocation of the Emergencies Act has set a dangerous precedent and it is incumbent upon Alberta to challenge the violation of the rights of Albertans and all Canadians,” he said.
Saskatchewan slams the government
Mike Morris with the government of Saskatchewan the first time the federal government mentioned its consideration to invoke the emergencies act was during the first ministers call on February 14th.
“On the morning of February 14th, A first Minister’s call was held, the phone call was chaired by the prime minister.” said Morris
“That phone call was the first time the federal government told the government to Saskatchewan that it was considering invoking the emergencies Act and declaring a public order emergency”
Morris said Saskatchewan was very clear to the federal government they did not support the emergencies act to be applied within their province and other provinces said the same.
Later that day on February 14, the federal government declared a public order emergency in which Morris said “it was not geographically limited as requested by Saskatchewan and other provinces and as we know it remained in effect until February 23rd.”
The government of Saskatchewan applied for standing in the inquiry for four reasons. The firs is to examine if the government had “reasonable grounds to believe that circumstances amounting to a public order emergency existed on February 14th”
The second concern is that the consultation requirement under section 25 of the Emergencies Act was not met.
Morris said Saskatchewan’s position is that “the federal government had already determined that a nationwide emergency would be declared before the first Minister’s call on February 14th” and that “the call was not so much about Consulting as it was about telling the”
The third area “concerns what are the emergency measures were overbroad. The financial measures for example imposed broad responsibilities on financial institutions with little guidance and they created offenses for not complying with those new responsibilities”
“The final area concerns to what extent Saskatchewan residents were impacted by the emergency measures the government is concerned that residents rights may have been unnecessarily infringed by these measures”