Ottawa residents, business groups and city councillors are scheduled to testify
Inquiry into use of Emergencies Act underway in Ottawa
The history-making Public Order Emergency Commission, which is reviewing the federal government's use of emergency powers last winter, is hearing testimony in Ottawa. The inquiry is expected to last six weeks.
The public inquiry examining the federal government's use of the Emergencies Act will hear later this morning how the protesters who took over Ottawa streets last winter affected those who live and work in the capital.
Ottawa-based lawyer Victoria De La Ronde and Zexi Li — an Ottawa resident who helped secure an injunction against Freedom Convoy protesters to silence their incessant honking — will testify when the Public Order Emergency Commission resumes for the day at the Library and Archives building in Ottawa.
The inquiry is reviewing the circumstances that led up to the government's decision on Feb. 14 to invoke the Emergencies Act for the first time in the act's 34-year-old history. The legislation requires that a public inquiry be held after it is invoked.
Two downtown Ottawa business associations will also have the chance to weigh in on the impacts of the protests. Both Nathalie Carrier, executive director of the Vanier BIA, and Kevin McHale, executive director of the Sparks Street BIA, will take questions.
The day will wrap with two downtown Ottawa city councillors — Catherine McKenney and Mathieu Fleury — offering their takes on how the situation was handled.
McKenney is in the midst of a mayoral campaign, while Fleury is not re-offering in the upcoming municipal election.
On Thursday, lawyer Paul Champ, who is representing a coalition of business and community groups in Ottawa, told Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Paul Rouleau, who is leading the inquiry, that people in the city are still "traumatized."
"They're bewildered, they're upset, and I can say, commissioner, these 30 days that you have, we could have residents line up every day to testify, to tell you their stories," he said during his opening remarks.
Keith Wilson, a lawyer representing some of the convoy protest's organizers, downplayed the impact on local businesses while speaking to reporters Wednesday.
"This notion that these businesses were so badly harmed is being overstated," he said.
"And to the extent that they were harmed, it wasn't because of the protests, it was because [of] the government taking the unusual step of telling so many of them to close when there was no good reason for them to close."
The commission resumes at 9:30 a.m. ET. CBC News will carry it live.
This story will be updated throughout the day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catharine Tunney is a reporter with CBC's Parliament Hill bureau, where she covers national security and the RCMP. She worked previously for CBC in Nova Scotia. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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