Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino is trying to clarify whether anyone outright asked the government to invoke the Emergencies Act in February, after his deputy minister told a committee the minister had been “misunderstood” when he seemed to say police asked for the act to be used.
On his way out of a Liberal caucus meeting, the public safety minister told reporters that after consultations with law enforcement, “it was understood by all that you needed to invoke the act.”
Mendicino says the powers police needed to end the weeks-long blockade in downtown Ottawa “found themselves in the Emergencies Act.”
A special committee examining the historic use of the act on Feb. 14 has been trying to determine why the government decided it was necessary.
Appearing before the committee in April, Mendicino repeatedly said government was acting on the advice of law enforcement and that police advised using the Emergencies Act.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and interim Ottawa police chief Steve Bell later denied asking for the act to be used.
On Wednesday, reporters pressed the minister about whether any police agency made a specific request for the act to be used.
“The request was for the powers, which required the invocation of the Emergencies Act,” Mendicino said.
The Conservatives tried to get at the same issue in question period, with MP Raquel Dancho saying the details of why and how the act was invoked “will set a precedent in Canada on government powers.”
“I’m sure the minister would agree, there’s no room for being misunderstood when setting historical precedent,” she said.
Mendicino replied that he agrees “we need to scrutinize the invocation of the Emergencies Act,” and government is co-operating both with the special committee and the public inquiry tasked with doing so.
For subscribers: Get exclusive political news and analysis by signing up for the Politics Briefing.