NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says it is unlikely that his party would pull their support for the Liberals if the Public Order Emergency Commission examining the federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act concludes that doing so was not justified.
In an interview on CTV’s Question Period, Singh said the New Democrats will reserve their judgement until all of the facts are aired by the national inquiry. But, hypothetically speaking, “simply because it was the wrong decision wouldn’t be enough for us to break, or to force the country into an election.”
The NDP backed the Liberals’ invocation of the Emergencies Act, citing national security concerns, allowing police and officials to use unprecedented powers to end the weeks-long protests.
Singh said that he doesn’t want to presuppose what Commissioner Paul Rouleau will conclude in his report due to Parliament by Feb. 20, and that his party is fully on board for getting to the bottom of whether or not invoking the Emergencies Act was, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called it, a “last resort.”
“We’ve always said we want to get to the bottom of if it was the only option, if there was other options, if there were better approaches that could have been taken. And we completely support a full and transparent investigation into that,” Singh said.
In his opening statement, Rouleau said that the focus of the commission will remain “squarely on the decision of the federal government.” Particularly: Why did it declare an emergency? How did it use its powers? And were those actions appropriate?
The expectation is that the final report to Parliament will inform how to prevent similar events from happening again, and will advise on whether the Emergencies Act and connected regulatory framework need amendments.
The NDP leader said that his basis for backing the government’s decision in February was based on the evidence known at that time.
“We knew that the convoy was a serious problem for workers, for our economy, the shutdowns at the bridges and the borders had resulted in massive losses… So there was a serious harm. And in Ottawa, what was going on was horrific,” Singh said. “So stopping it was something that I supported. And it’s clear that the invocation resulted in that situation being resolved.”
As the commission continues to hear testimony shedding new light on the circumstances that led up to the government invoking the Emergencies Act, Singh said it’s clear that there were steps that the police could have taken a lot earlier.
In deciding to enter into a mutually-beneficial confidence-and-supply agreement one month after Trudeau revoked the Emergences Act, the NDP committed to propping up the minority Liberals in the House of Commons in exchange for progress on longstanding NDP priorities.
While the deal has recently been tested with the advancement of a trio of affordability commitments, Singh said the NDP “always have the right to withdraw support,” whether because of any potential revelations from this inquiry, or a failure from the government to follow through on elements of their deal.
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