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Doug Ford overstates privilege in trying to avoid testifying at Emergencies Act inquiry, commissioner says & More Latest News


Ontario Premier Doug Ford and a high minister have overstated the privilege they take pleasure in as politicians as they struggle to get out of testifying at the Emergencies Act inquiry, the commissioner overseeing the continuing mentioned Monday in court docket paperwork.

The Public Order Emergency Commission summoned Ford and then-solicitor common Sylvia Jones final week to testify at the inquiry, which is inspecting the federal authorities’s use of the Emergencies Act to finish the so-called Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa and Windsor, Ont., final winter.

Lawyers for Ford and Jones filed an software for judicial overview in Federal Court final week that seeks to quash the summons, citing parliamentary privilege — authorized immunity that forestalls a politician from testifying whereas the legislature is in session and for 40 days earlier than and afterwards.

The commissioner, Justice Paul Rouleau, an Appeal Court decide, is now searching for to have Ford and Jones’s software dismissed.

“The applicants overstate the extent of the privilege in issue,” the commissioner mentioned in court docket paperwork. “There is no blanket privilege to decline to testify; it is only a temporal privilege.”

The Federal Court is about to hear arguments on Tuesday in Ottawa.

In a judicial overview software filed with the court docket final week, legal professionals for Ford and Jones argued the summons breaches their parliamentary privilege by trying to compel the pair to testify.

The legal professionals mentioned that “irreparable harm will occur” if the 2 are compelled to testify, which the commissioner took situation with.

“Second, being required to testify before a commission of inquiry does not constitute irreparable harm,” the commissioner wrote.

The commissioner mentioned that it has “never been established” that parliamentary privilege can be utilized at an inquiry and that he’s “legally entitled” to Ford and Jones’s proof below its parliamentary mandate.

An Ottawa police officer stands close to a row of downtown protest autos and indicators in a photograph taken final February. (Jean-Francois Benoit/CBC)

“In the circumstances of this case, it is apparent that the applicants are seeking to use a principle with uncertain application to the commissioner’s summonses to delay their testimony until after the commission’s mandate has expired,” Rouleau wrote.

The fee will hear proof at the general public inquiry till Nov. 25 and should file a report with suggestions by Feb. 20, 2023.

The fee needs Ford and Jones, who final week disclosed she had COVID-19, to testify on Nov. 10.

Court paperwork present the fee’s legal professionals have been negotiating with the legal professionals for Ford and Jones, who’s now the well being minister, for weeks.

By mid-September, the legal professionals mentioned it will be essential to interview Ford, particularly given what it had uncovered by then. It had discovered by means of interviews that the province had declined to meet with the mayor of Ottawa and the federal authorities in an effort to work out how to finish the convoy’s occupation of the nation’s capital for weeks.

It needs to know why Ford and Jones did not take part in a number of conferences with different ranges of presidency over the scenario.

Multiple witnesses have described Ford and Jones’s “participation or lack thereof in the events leading up to the declaration of emergency” and needs to query them on that,” the commissioner said in court documents.

Throughout the lead up to the start of the inquiry, the province’s lawyers denied the commission’s repeated attempts to interview Ford.

On Oct. 11, two days before the inquiry started, the commission’s lawyers advised Ontario’s lawyers they wanted Ford and Jones to testify, court documents show.

Six days later, the commission again said the pair should testify, but was warned by Ford and Jones’s lawyers that a summons would not be effective, “since parliamentary privilege applies.”

A politician speaks at a lectern in front of a blue corporate backdrop while another listens behind him.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford looks on as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question earlier this month in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

On that same day, Ford told reporters he was not asked to testify at the inquiry.

Then came the summons last Monday, which kicked off a furor at Queen’s Park with opposition members demanding he testify.

The premier skipped question period on the first day the legislature resumed sitting last Tuesday, with a top minister saying Ford was too busy to appear.

Ford answered one question the next day and repeatedly said the inquiry was a federal matter and not a provincial one. He has also repeatedly said the occupation in Ottawa by the so-called Freedom Convoy and a near week-long blockade of the most-travelled international bridge in Windsor was a policing issue, not a political one.

He stressed the province has provided two top bureaucrats to answer questions at the inquiry, has given 800 pages of cabinet documents to the commission and top Ontario Provincial Police officers have testified.

Doug Ford overstates privilege in trying to avoid testifying at Emergencies Act inquiry, commissioner says

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Doug Ford overstates privilege in trying to avoid testifying at Emergencies Act inquiry, commissioner says

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Doug Ford overstates privilege in trying to avoid testifying at Emergencies Act inquiry, commissioner says

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