The judge leading the public inquiry into the federal Liberal government’s unprecedented use of the Emergencies Act warned of tight timelines on Thursday as he urged everyone to work together to enlighten Canadians.
“Uncovering the truth is an important goal,” Commissioner Paul Rouleau said in his opening remarks to the Public Order Emergency Commission, which will take place over six weeks in downtown Ottawa.
“When difficult events occur that impact the lives of Canadians the public has a right to know what happened.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, seven federal ministers, police forces and officials from all levels of government as well as “Freedom Convoy” organizers are all expected to appear in the coming weeks.
Rouleau and his staff started the proceedings by explaining how the inquiry will work, including how documents and evidence will be presented, before witnesses begin testifying on Friday.
Rouleau said inquires like the one starting today are to learn from experience and make recommendations for the future.
“They do not make findings of criminal liability, they do not determine if individuals have committed a crime.”
Tamara Lich, who is facing criminal charges for her role organizing the convoy, was among those in the public viewing gallery as proceedings got underway.
The hearings in the building that houses Library and Archives Canada are being livestreamed and members of the public can share their views with the commission online.
Rouleau said the process getting to the start of the inquiry has been “challenging” in large part due to the amount of time.
“Discharging my mandate is not an easy task,” he said, later adding “timelines will be tight.”
He appealed to participants and their legal counsel to “work co-operatively” to ensure the facts are properly presented to the public.
In February, the Liberal government invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time since its introduction in 1988.
The government argued it was needed to end border blockades and the occupation of downtown Ottawa by protesters demonstrating against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, lockdowns and the Liberal government.
—David Fraser, The Canadian Press