Canada

RCMP wanted Emergencies Act to stay in place for up to three weeks: documents

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OTTAWA – The RCMP pushed the government to keep the Emergencies Act in place for up to three weeks after it had been invoked arguing it was needed to prevent new blockades from starting.

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The RCMP’s timeline came in a “key messages” document prepared for RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki when she spoke with cabinet members on Feb. 20, six days after the act was first invoked.

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“There is an operational need to maintain access to these powers to ensure that we can finish what we started and prevent any retrenchment, even for the next two to three weeks,” the RCMP document reads.

Lucki was not asked about this during her testimony earlier in the commission’s hearings. Prior to the invocation Lucki has insisted she advised the government the extraordinary powers weren’t needed and the police had existing authorities they could use to end the protest.

Police cleared Ottawa’s streets on Feb. 18 and 19, but the document says the RCMP are concerned removing the act too quickly would lead to protesters regrouping, because many were still staying in the area.

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“While significant progress has been made, there is still a lot to do, search out and remove remaining elements of the protest group and to prevent further waves of protests,” the document read. “Wellington Street has been cleared for less than a day.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ultimately revoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 23. Trudeau’s deputy chief of staff Brian Clow said the RCMP were consistent in their message that they needed the powers in place for longer.

“That was definitely a message right up to the revocation that the RCMP believed that the powers were critical and they argued that they should stay in place for a period longer in order to prevent additional blockades from starting or from people returning to the ones that existed.”

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