Government Progress Report Assures Reform Based on Emergencies Act Inquiry Recommendations

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Six months subsequent to the final report by the Emergencies Act inquiry’s, which proposed numerous recommendations for federal reform, the government has submitted a progress report highlighting the actions taken within that timeline and assured a more exhaustive response by the one-year anniversary.

Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions, and Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc has communicated in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, made known to the public on Thursday, about the ongoing works and expressed the requirement of an additional six months to aptly address the proposed changes by Public Order Emergency Commissioner Paul Rouleau. The federal government is deeply considering the recommendations, placing emphasis on enhancing collaboration between jurisdictions, bolstering community safety, and fortifying our capabilities to handle similar events of national importance in the future.

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The government, as per its declaration, has already identified and secured critical trade and transportation corridors; enhanced financial sector security pertaining to crypto assets, money laundering, and terrorist financing; and adopted consideration for policing reforms that also include information sharing capabilities across law enforcement by the RCMP.

Minister Dominic LeBlanc reaffirmed his commitment to the safety of Canadians and to the protection of democracy, jobs, supply chains, and national economy in his brief statement. He pledged to closely collaborate with his colleagues on these matters and promised to deliver a comprehensive Government Response in February 2024.

The six-month deadline, made by Trudeau, to respond to the report’s findings, presented by the Public Order Emergency Commission on its five-volume report released on Feb. 17 was due by mid-August.

Commissioner Rouleau, chosen to lead the substantial examination into Trudeau’s application of extraordinary national powers to conclude the “Freedom Convoy” protests and blockades, imparted 56 recommendations for the federal government’s consideration. These suggestions were targeted towards understanding and evading similar future incidents at vital border crossings and were divided into six categories.

Reforms in policing, intelligence coordination, and protection of critical trade infrastructure across various government levels, amendments to the Emergencies Act, and areas requiring further review were suggested.

With respect to the 56 recommendations, 27 of which were focused exclusively on law enforcement reforms, the report by LeBlanc notes that RCMP is considering improvements for policing during public order events. As stated in the report, reviews of the Mounties’ contract policing program are in progress, however, this is not a result of the convoy commission alone.

The “imperfect” 1988 Emergencies Act was advised to undergo 22 changes by Rouleau, but the government has not yet declared if any legislative amendments are considered. They have only stated that such considerations are being reviewed attentively.

LeBlanc acknowledged the need for intergovernmental collaboration to fulfill many of the suggestions. He mentioned ongoing discussions on how to address areas of shared jurisdiction and has also communicated with the Solicitor General of Ontario to comprehend Ontario’s intentions about the recommendations from the Commission’s report.

The government has also been advised to investigate the influence of social media and misinformation on Canadians. They are considering the establishment of a federal department or agency responsible for monitoring and reporting on social media.

LeBlanc’s update hinted at numerous misinformation initiatives the government has undertaken over the years and vaguely referred to additional measures being developed by the Privy Council Office to meet the intelligence recommendations by the commission.

The minister also alluded to the nascent National Security Council, as another pathway to deliberate and address pressing domestic and international security issues.

Among his recommendations, Rouleau requested the federal government to identify the recommendations accepted and rejected in its comprehensive public response. He further proposed the provision of an implementation timeline for the accepted changes and explanations for rejected calls of action.

Lastly, the minister emphasized the significance of maintaining public trust and confidence. He asserted that his primary focus in preparing the full report will be to ensure all governmental orders can collaboratively function – a belief that was shaken following the initial response to the convoy and further strained due to subsequent revelations about internal tensions during the commission testimony.