Half a year following the final report of the Emergencies Act inquiry, which proposed numerous recommendations for government restructuring, the authorities have issued a six-month progress update. They have committed to delivering a broader resolution by the first anniversary of the report.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and made public on Thursday, Dominic LeBlanc, the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs, informed that efforts are ongoing. However, he requested another six months to thoroughly address Public Order Emergency Commissioner Paul Rouleau’s advocacy for change.
The ministerial letter states that the federal government is methodically analyzing the recommendations, with particular focus on those that would bolster inter-jurisdictional cooperation, safeguard communities, and reinforce the nation’s preparedness for future events of national significance.
The government has reported some progress in specific areas such as identifying and safeguarding pivotal trade and transportation routes; enhancing financial sector security, particularly regarding the use of crypto assets and preventing money laundering and terrorist financing; and considering police reforms, including expanding the RCMP’s data sharing abilities across law enforcement agencies.
Minister LeBlanc asserted that the primary aim remains ensuring the safety of Canadians, protecting democracy, jobs, supply chains, and the economy. He pledged to continue close collaboration with his colleagues on these matters and deliver a detailed Government Response in February 2024.
When the Public Order Emergency Commission released the lengthy five-volume report on February 17, settling that the federal government justified invoking the Emergencies Act, Prime Minister Trudeau committed to delivering a response plan based on the report’s findings within six months. This deadline expired in mid-August.
Commissioner Rouleau, entrusted with the comprehensive investigation into Trudeau’s employment of exceptional national powers to quell the “Freedom Convoy” uprisings and blockades, put forth 56 proposals for the federal government’s consideration.
Rouleau’s recommendations, which aim to endorse learning from and preventing future similar protests and logjams at crucial border crossings, spied six key areas for improvement. These included policing, intelligence coordination, and the protection of critical trade infrastructure. Furthermore, the suggestions featured amendments to the Emergencies Act and certain areas requiring in-depth scrutiny.
Out of these recommendations for change, 27 centered on police reforms, namely enhancing cross-jurisdictional efforts to bolster communication and responsibility protocols concerning intelligence sharing and requesting additional law enforcement resources for significant events.
Minister LeBlanc’s progress report reveals that the RCMP is currently exploring ways to enhance policing during public order events. An appraisal of the Mounties’ contract policing Program is underway, though this is not exclusively a consequence of the convoy commission.
The report indicated 22 changes to the imperfect 1988 Emergencies Act however, the recent update does not address whether legislative amendments— including a redefinition of what constitutes a national security threat— are forthcoming. Rather, it simply states these matters are under careful reconsideration.
LeBlanc highlighted an ongoing intergovernmental collaboration to tackle the recommendations and confirmed involvement at existing “engagement tables” to manage shared jurisdiction areas.
In response to an advice to assess the impact of social media and misinformation on Canadians, LeBlanc listed numerous misinformation initiatives but provided little information about future measures beyond the Privy Council Office working on the commission’s intelligence recommendations.
Rouleau suggested, in the government’s comprehensive public response, the identification of accepted and rejected recommendations, detailed timelines for implementing changes, and a thorough explanation for the rejection of specific recommendations.
LeBlanc affirmed that his primary objective in formulating the full report rests on preserving public faith and confidence in the capacity of all governmental levels to cooperate. This goal aligns with the tension surrounding the initial response to the convoy and the ensuing weeks of commission testimony that unearthed internal conflicts.