National security officials wanted CSIS threshold for Emergencies Act 'reconsidered'

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's national security adviser and other senior officials felt the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's threshold to determine a national threat under the Emergencies Act "should be reconsidered," a public inquiry has learned.

Jody Thomas told lawyers for the Public Order Emergency Commission, which is investigating the federal government's decision to invoke the act during the "Freedom Convoy" protests last winter, that the "totality of circumstances" at the time constituted a threat to national security, in her opinion.

A summary of an interview with Thomas suggests she knew CSIS determined the protests did not meet the threshold to declare a national emergency, but she felt the agency's mandate was too narrow.

The document says CSIS required a "known actor" to be engaging in violence or carrying out activities — and not just rhetoric — in support of a threat of violence.

Thomas told the commission lawyers that the Emergencies Act, which was invoked Feb. 14, was intended to allow police forces to manage copycat protests and blockades in their jurisdictions.

Thomas is testifying before the commission today as part of public hearings that are set to continue until Nov. 25.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2022.

The Canadian Press