RCMP wanted to keep Emergencies Act in place for weeks to ‘finish what we started,’ docs show

The RCMP wanted to keep the Emergencies Act in place for weeks and worried that revoking emergency powers would “send a powerful message to protesters,” the inquiry reviewing the government’s decision to invoke the never-before-used legislation heard Thursday.

In speaking notes prepared for RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki for a Feb. 20 meeting with federal cabinet ministers and senior security officials, she argued against revoking the legislation, which had granted officers emergency powers.

“As it relates to Ottawa and Ontario, there is an operational need to maintain access to these powers to ensure we can finish what we started and prevent any reentrenchment. Even for the next 2-3 weeks,” say Lucki’s notes.

“Revoking or withdrawing the act now, will send a powerful message to protesters.”

Lucki’s notes say the powers the Emergencies Act granted to police — like the ability to compel tow trucks to move vehicles, to freeze certain bank accounts and to impose a ban on bringing minors to protest zones — had been helpful. 

According to the notes, Lucki feared that the protesters would return.

“Some protesters are within the red zone in hotels and have indicated to police they are not leaving,” says the document.

“It’s just too early to revoke the Emergencies Act.”

Brian Clow, one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s deputy chiefs of staff, said Thursday that was the RCMP’s opinion right up to the point when those emergency powers were revoked on Feb. 23, nine days after the government triggered the Emergencies Act.

“The RCMP believed that the powers were critical,” he testified.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki arrives at the Public Order Emergency Commission Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

“This view would would have been considered and was considered, but ultimately, the prime minister and the [Incident Response Group] decided to revoke when they decide to revoke …”

Katie Telford, Trudeau’s chief of staff, told the inquiry that it was important to the prime minister to ensure the emergency powers did not remain active “one minute longer than absolutely necessary.”

The commission has heard already how, the night before the act was invoked, Lucki told Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino’s chief of staff she didn’t think police had yet exhausted all available tools.

Lucki has since said publicly she supports the government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act.

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