Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several prominent Freedom Convoy organizers are expected to testify before the upcoming public inquiry starting on Oct. 13 into the federal government's use of the Emergencies Act in February, according to multiple media sources.
The Liberal government invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14, granting police extraordinary powers to clear out convoy protesters from Ottawa's downtown area and granting banks the power to freeze the accounts of convoy organizers and supporters.
Trudeau announced in April the creation of the Public Order Emergency Commission (POEC) to investigate the circumstances leading up to the government's Emergencies Act invocation.
He named Ontario Appeal Court Justice Paul S. Rouleau as the POEC's commissioner, who initially announced that the commission would run from Sept. 19 to Oct. 28, but later announced a postponement until Oct. 13 due to health issues and a surgery appointment.
A spokesperson with the POEC told The Epoch Times that it hasn't yet released an official list of witnesses. The commission had said previously it will call "a wide variety" of witnesses ranging from convoy protesters to government officials to testify.
Rouleau has said holding the government accountable for the Emergencies Act is "one of the Commission’s primary responsibilities."
"I intend to conduct the hearings in as open and transparent a manner as possible to help Canadians gain a better understanding of the events of February 2022 and their impact across the country," he said in a statement.
Besides Trudeau and convoy organizers, the list of potential witnesses also includes Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.
The list could also include Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and other city officials, members of the Ottawa Police Services Board, past and present chiefs of Ottawa police, and the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Civil society groups who were opposed to the invocation of the act will also be addressing the commission.
Convoy organizers have asked a court to release $450,000 in frozen funds—part of the over $10 million donated to the convoy through the crowdfunding platforms GoFundMe and GiveSendGo—so that they can afford legal defence in the upcoming public inquiry.
The organizers are currently involved in a lawsuit launched by Ottawa resident Zexi Li along with other "downtown [Ottawa] residents, businesses, and workers" who are seeking a total of $306 million in damages.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Feb. 17 issued a Mareva order to put more than $5 million of donations into escrow pending the outcome of a proposed class action lawsuit.
The Freedom Convoy movement began on Jan. 29 as a demonstration by truck drivers opposing the federal COVID-19vaccine mandates for cross-border travel but grew exponentially when supporters from across the country joined in to call for an end to various other COVID-19 mandates and restrictions as well.
The commission's final report, complete with its findings and recommendations, will be presented in the House of Commons and the Senate by Feb. 20, 2023, at the latest.
The Canadian Press and Andrew Chen contributed to this report.