Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act for the first time is still spurring plenty of conversation and debate in Canada, with one question yet to be answered: did it meet the extraordinarily high thresholds to use emergency powers.
The Emergencies Act provides for an automatic public inquiry triggered within 60 days of its invocation. While the prime minister may have waited until the last day to establish it, we now have a Public Order Emergency Commission headed up by Justice Paul Rouleau. The inquiry is important, considering its precedent on the impact on Canadian Charter rights.
The announcement of the inquiry doesn't leave optimism Canadians will see much new information come forward based on what we've heard so far. In the government's news release, more time was spent discussing the importance of the inquiry in investigating the origins, impacts, and effects of the convoy than on government actions and whether thresholds were met. There are further comments by the government attempting to control the scope of the inquiry.
The Emergencies Act inquiry trigger was meant to provide perspective and analysis of the government's actions in using it and should be an inquiry of the government, not a trial of others.
Conservatives believe the commissioner should be given the power to compel the production of important documents and evidence, including those covered under cabinet confidence and in the opinion provided to the government by the Justice Department.
The government invoking cabinet confidentiality on court cases filed to bring forward facts and rationale behind the prime minister's Emergencies Act decision is another attempt to shield itself from public scrutiny. Similarly, the government wouldn't commit to making those documents available to the commission.
Transparency is required. If the government is confident that the Emergencies Act was needed, it should have no fear of presenting all the facts publicly.
Locally, you may have received my 2022 Grocery Survey in your mailbox, and if not, it should appear soon. It's a two-sided card with a small survey you can mail back to my office, postage free, or email me with your answers. It covers grocery prices, food insecurity, and price inflation.
I sent out this card because increasingly, residents from all demographics are reaching out to let me know the actions they're being forced to take with grocery bills consuming a more significant amount of their incomes due to unprecedented inflation.
Retirees are returning to the workforce. Young adults are adding part-time work on top of full-time employment. Low-income earners are eating less to pay utilities or rent. The stories I hear are heartbreaking and are becoming far too common.
Though food inflation is reported at 7.7% for March in Canada, we have to recognize that all food products are not captured in the analysis and there are regional differences. I'm hearing the food cost increases in Kelowna-Lake Country may actually be much higher.
That's why I need your help in putting together your assessment on food prices and food insecurity and how it is affecting your pocketbook and family. Your input helps me advocate on your behalf in Ottawa.
While I receive your surveys and feedback, let's all remember the importance of doing our part to tackle food insecurity at home.
The Central Okanagan Food Bank reports a 28% increase in requests for food bank services. It's becoming more common that a person struggling with food insecurity is someone we know.
If you are able, you may wish to reach out to a local food bank near you to see how you can help.
If you need any assistance with programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out. 250-470-5075 or [email protected].
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.