Legal scholar and constitutional law specialist Ryan Alford joins TDF's Ethics Scholar Dr. Julie Ponesse to help clarify what the Public Order Emergency Commission is really about.
With all the activity surrounding the Public Order Emergency Commission — day-long line-ups of witnesses ranging from citizens to elected officials to protestors who are cross-examined by more lawyers than one can easily keep straight — it can be hard to remember what it is all really about. But, as Commissioner Rouleau made clear on the first day of the inquiry, its focus will remain squarely on the decision of the Federal Government to proclaim a public order emergency.
To help us cut through the chaos and keep us focused on the true purpose of the Commission is Professor Ryan Alford of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University. Professor Alford is a specialist in public, constitutional and international law. With degrees from the University of Oxford and NYU, he is the author of Seven Absolute Rights: Recovering the Foundations of Canada's Rule of Law and Permanent State of Emergency: Unchecked Executive Power and the Demise of the Rule of Law.
As Professor Alford explained clearly and succinctly in his opening statement at the Commission, the federal government has to prove that it met the legal standard for using the emergency provision of last resort. There is a very clear and specific legal standard to justify the declaration of a public order emergency. Threats must be direct, "not tied to serious acts of violence in some fashion, not in conjunction with or association in some fashion."