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Justin Trudeau is being asked to hand over secret information linked to convoy protest

The Star: Alex Ballingall: 'The public inquiry into the federal government’s unprecedented use of the Emergencies Act wants access to cabinet secrets as it warns it will be hard to complete its work by next February, as required under a legally-mandated timeline.

'In its first substantial move since Ontario judge Paul Rouleau was appointed in April to lead the inquiry, the Public Order Emergency Commission said Wednesday that it has asked the Liberal government to provide all information — including material covered by cabinet confidence and other principles of secrecy — that prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers to invoke the Emergencies Act.

'The controversial Feb. 14 decision was the first-ever use of the act, which gave police and financial institutions special powers to deal with the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests that paralyzed the streets around Parliament Hill and blockaded border crossings across the country this winter.

'In a series of documents published online Wednesday, Rouleau’s inquiry said it is starting its study by asking Trudeau’s cabinet to explain why it declared a public order emergency under the act.

'“It is the government that must explain its decision,” the documents say. “In light of this, the commission has asked the government to disclose to the commissioner the information, including advice and information that may be protected by cabinet confidence or any applicable privilege, that led to cabinet’s decision to declare an emergency.”'

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