Ontario Premier Doug Ford and former solicitor general Sylvia Jones have been summoned to appear as witnesses at the public inquiry examining the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act.
Commission lawyers said the summons was issued Monday after both Ford and Jones, who is now the health minister, refused multiple requests to appear.
“It was our hope that Premier Ford and Minister Jones would agree to appear before the commission voluntarily,” reads a letter sent Monday by commission lead lawyers Shantona Chaudhury and Jeffrey Leon.
“However, given that the repeated invitations were all declined, the commission has issued summons this day to Premier Ford and Minister Jones pursuant to section 4 of the Inquiries Act.”
The letter was written in response to a request for Ford to appear made last week by three lawyers for parties involved in the inquiry.
Chaudhury and Leon said in the letter that Ford and Jones had also “refused” multiple times to be interviewed privately by commission lawyers before the public hearings began.
Last week Ford told reporters at an unrelated event in Ottawa that he wasn’t appearing at the inquiry because “I have not been asked.”
In that same conversation on Oct. 17, Ford said the Ontario Provincial Police did an “incredible job” helping Ottawa police and RCMP clear protesters. He also said he stood “shoulder to shoulder” with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau throughout the convoy and the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act.
Andrew Kennedy, a spokesman for Ontario’s Attorney General, says in a statement says it is going to challenge the subpoena in court.
“The government will be seeking a judicial review to set aside the summons and receive a stay under the grounds the summons are inconsistent with the members’ parliamentary privilege,” Kennedy said.
“We believe that questions about Ontario’s institutional response will be sufficiently addressed by the testimony from the two senior officials already selected by the commission.”
Ontario deputy transport minister Ian Freeman, and deputy solicitor general Mario Di Tommaso, were interviewed by the commission already, and are scheduled to testify publicly, Monday’s letter said.
But Chaudhury and Leon said information gathered by the commission has led them to believe Ford and Jones have evidence that would be relevant to the inquiry’s mandate.
The commission has the authority to summon witnesses to testify.
The public inquiry, which began earlier this month, is tasked with investigating the Trudeau government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act in February as the “Freedom Convoy” paralyzed the national capital’s downtown core.
David Fraser and Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
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