Feds Will Not Provide Emergencies Act Inquiry the Legal Advice They Received for Use of Act: Justice Minister

The initial legal opinion formed by the federal government to justify invoking the Emergencies Act last February will not be revealed to the public inquiry, implied Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti as he testified on Nov. 23.

“I think we have done our best to provide all the information we can. The section 58 report effectively gives you the conclusions that we got to,” Lametti said in reference to the official document that gives the government’s perspective on the events.

“The various factors identified in there, facts on the ground, as well as the testimony that you’ve received from my colleagues, but also including me and other officials, gives you a picture of the actual events that were causing us to move in the direction that we did.”

Lametti was responding to a question from Commissioner Paul Rouleau, who said the inquiry’s mandate is to assess the reasonableness of invoking the Emergencies Act.

“I’m having a little trouble, and I don’t know if you can help me, how we assess reasonableness when we don’t know what they were acting on,” said Rouleau.

As attorney general, Lametti would have presumably provided significant advice during the events of last winter, but he claimed solicitor-client privilege a number of times during the proceedings to avoid giving any detail.

What he did say was that lawyers from the Department of Justice would be providing legal arguments to the commission in their final submissions to explain the legal basis on which the Liberal government was acting.

But this is different than seeing what was the actual legal opinion that was provided by Lametti and the department at the time the act was invoked.

Rouleau said it was still important to hear those arguments, but he suggested the inquiry would remain in the dark about the initial arguments and Lametti agreed.

“What I don’t know, and I’m not saying we necessarily need to know, is what was the belief of those who made the decision as to what the law was? And I guess the answer is we just assume they acted in good faith in application of whatever they were told. Is that sort of what you’re saying?” said Rouleau.

“I think that’s fair,” said Lametti.

Rouleau commented he’s about to start reviewing the evidence and needs to establish how “to get from A to B.”

Noé Chartier

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Noé Chartier is an Epoch Times reporter based in Montreal.

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