By Patrick Meagher
Ottawa — Fifteen Canadian human rights groups don’t trust the federal government with an inquiry into the Emergencies Act.
The groups are so concerned that the federal government will not have an open and transparent inquiry that they wrote a joint letter (see letter below) on April 13 to the federal government calling for an inquiry that is open to the public.
“Let’s be crystal clear: an inquiry that does not include the sworn testimony of the major players involved and the production of documents is a sham,” said Cara Zwibel, Director of Fundamental Freedoms for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. “The people of Canada deserve to hear from their officials about why they took the steps they did. They deserve accountability and Canadians are owed the truth as to why their civil liberties were suspended.”
She added that “We need broad terms of reference and for the inquiry to truly be independent—Cabinet should consult with opposition parties and seek their approval for who will be appointed. The government should also be prepared to invest the resources necessary for a full and thorough inquiry and report. Moreover, the inquiry must be transparent and its proceedings must be open to the public.”
The list of signatories include:
Amnesty International Canada (English Speaking)
Black Legal Action Centre
British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Canadian Constitution Foundation
Centre for Free Expression
David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
Ligue des droits et libertés
National Council of Canadian Muslims
Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund
World Press Freedom
The groups are concerned that the federal government could use the Emergencies Act for any protest that the government disagrees with. “We are concerned with the use of state and police powers to suppress constitutional rights,” the statement says.
The federal government invoked the Emergencies Act on February 14 and removed it, prior to a Senate vote, on February 23. During that time there were 230 arrests at the Freedom Convoy protest in front of Parliament Hill. Banks froze $7.8 million in bank and credit union accounts of protest supporters.