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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office said Tuesday he expects to appear at an inquiry beginning next week into Canada’s use of emergency powers to dislodge trucker-led protests in Ottawa and blockades at US border crossings. online news
The rarely used powers had been invoked in February after weeks of protests that brought the capital to a standstill and disrupted trade.
The Public Order Emergency Commission, led by former judge Paul Rouleau, is scheduled to start six weeks of public hearings into the matter on October 13.
Trudeau’s office told AFP that he anticipates being asked to testify and “welcomes the opportunity.”
His decision to invoke the Emergencies Act, which gave the government sweeping powers to deal with a major crisis, has been criticized as overreach by political opponents and civil liberties groups.
Thousands of protesters, led by truckers furious over Covid-19 vaccination requirements for driving freight across the border into the United States, converged on Ottawa in late January and hunkered down for a siege.
They later expanded their demands to a broader rejection of pandemic restrictions, and pressed an anti-establishment agenda as the protest grew through February to block a bridge between Canadian city Windsor and US city Detroit, freezing a major trade route critical for industry including automobile manufacturing.
The prime minister defended the use of the act at the time, saying authorities needed “more tools to restore order” after more than three weeks of “dangerous and unlawful activities” including harassment of Ottawa residents.
He pointed to “evidence of increased ideologically motivated violent extremism activity across the country” and alleged that the protestors had received “foreign funding to destabilize Canada’s democracy.”
Police eventually moved in, towing the big rigs out of Ottawa in a crackdown that saw nearly 200 arrests.
Several border crossings were also reopened after being cleared of blockades.
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