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Protesters stand in front of the Parliament buildings as truckers take part in a convoy to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates for cross-border truck drivers in Ottawa, on Jan. 29.PATRICK DOYLE/Reuters

The federal Liberals are pushing ahead with a motion to create an oversight committee that will review the government’s invocation of the never-before-used Emergencies Act, forcing a vote on the matter over the objections of the official-opposition Conservatives.

The act, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked on Feb. 14 in response to prolonged anti-pandemic-restriction protests and blockades in Ottawa and at border crossings, gave the government extraordinary temporary powers. But the legislation contains safeguards, including a requirement that a special joint committee of both the House of Commons and the Senate be established to review government actions.

The Liberals and the Conservatives do not agree on the composition of the committee.

The Liberal government is proposing that the committee be composed of four members of the Senate and seven members of the House of Commons: three Liberal MPs, two Conservatives, one Bloc member and one NDP member. It also proposes that the committee have three chairs: one from the Bloc, one from the NDP and one determined by the Senate.

“It is essential as we move forward and look at this chapter of history that parliamentary review be done and that that committee be both balanced and impartial in its deliberations,” Government House Leader Mark Holland said during a Monday debate in the Commons on the government’s motion, held because unanimous agreement to set up the committee could not be reached.

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In a statement issued three days prior, Mr. Holland said the Conservatives had requested that both committee co-chairs be from their party. The statement called this an “unreasonable demand” and said the Conservatives “publicly supported and even encouraged the protesters who illegally occupied the streets of Ottawa.”

During Monday’s debate, the Conservatives moved an amendment proposing the committee be co-chaired by a Liberal MP and a Conservative senator.

Opposition House Leader John Brassard said that it is “incumbent upon the committee to find out and get to the bottom of whether the government’s actions were justified, and whether they met the threshold of declaring an emergency.”

Mr. Brassard also said Conservatives believe in “peaceful protest.” His party, he noted, asked participants in the blockades to go home, because their voices had been heard. He said the outrage on display in the nation’s capital and at border crossings was a manifestation of years of frustration, anger and anxiety during the pandemic.

NDP House Leader Peter Julian said Monday that he does not get the sense that Conservative MPs understood the impacts of the protest in Ottawa. He added that his party believes it is necessary to move forward immediately with the review process outlined in the Emergencies Act.

New Democrats are expected to vote in favour of the government’s motion.

Bloc Québécois MP Rhéal Fortin said Monday he also expects his party to vote in favour of the government’s motion. A vote has yet to take place.

The Emergencies Act was used for a 10-day period. Mr. Trudeau announced on Feb. 23 that the government would end its use, because Ottawa had been assured that police had sufficient tools to deal with any further challenges.

The act’s powers are triggered as soon as it is invoked, but its provisions require that a vote on its use be held in the Commons within seven days. During that vote, which took place on Feb. 21, NDP and Liberal MPs voted in favour of using the act, while the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois voted against.

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