Lawyer collapses during Emergencies Act investigation, delaying proceedings

The proceedings were halted during the public inquiry into the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act on Thursday afternoon after a medical incident.

A lawyer representing the Public Order Emergency Commission collapsed while questioning Ontario’s Deputy Solicitor General, the second witness of the day.

Emergency responders were called to the Library and Archives Canada building in downtown Ottawa and proceedings were halted. lawyers and spectators were evacuated from the courtroom.

Gabriel Poliquin was in the early stages of examining Mario Di Tommaso when he collapsed on the floor. His condition is unclear.

Poliquin is part of a team of lawyers working for the commission, which is charged with investigating the circumstances surrounding the Liberal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act for the first time in the history of the Canada on February 14.

The commission will change witnesses when the proceedings resume. Ian Freeman of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation will testify, while Di Tommaso will resume testimony tomorrow.

Public hearings, which began Oct. 13 and are scheduled to run until Nov. 25, focused this week on testimony regarding border blockades in Windsor, Ont., and Coutts, Alta.

Earlier Thursday, the mayor of Coutts said the RCMP appeared to be caught off guard by a protest blockade of the US-Canada border crossing last winter, even though he had warned the provincial government it could happen.

Jim Willett emailed then Premier Jason Kenney and the province’s Solicitor General on January 27 warning of the possibility of a blockade, and was assured that the RCMP had been alerted.

He said he was concerned about maintaining vital freeway access in the small border town of 245 people, and he also warned the protest could lead to an international incident.

On January 29, a large convoy of trucks gathered at the border, some rolling over the median and ditches and blocking the road.

The mayor said the RCMP did not establish a large police presence until three days later.

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