TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford defended his decision against testifying at the public inquiry into the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act in the provincial legislature Tuesday, saying the inquiry is not a provincial issue.
“This is a federal inquiry into the federal government’s decision to use the federal Emergencies Act,” Ford said.
“For Ontario, this was a policing matter, it was not a political matter.”
His comments came as he’s fighting a summons to testify at the inquiry, which is examining the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act to end the so-called Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa and Windsor, Ont., last winter.
The Public Order Emergency Commission summoned Ford and then-solicitor general Sylvia Jones on Monday to testify.
Lawyers for Ford and Jones filed an application for judicial review in Federal Court Tuesday that seeks to quash the summons, citing parliamentary privilege.
It was Ford’s first comments on the summons after he did not show up to question period on Tuesday, the day the legislature resumed from a six-week adjournment.
Ford said the province has provided two top bureaucrats to participate in the inquiry and has provided 800 pages of cabinet documents about the issue.
Ford did not respond to numerous other questions from the Official Opposition, deferring to Government House Leader Paul Calandra who repeated the premier’s talking points.
In its application, Ford’s lawyers argue the summons breaches parliamentary privilege by attempting to compel Ford and Jones to testify.
The commission wants the pair to testify on Nov. 10, court documents show. Provincial lawyers have sought to have its application heard on Nov. 1.
Last week, Ford told reporters he was not asked to testify at the inquiry.
The commission has sought to interview Ford dating back to mid-September. The requests were repeatedly declined by provincial lawyers, emails filed as part of the province’s case show.
Outgoing Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has testified at the inquiry, saying he asked the province to sit down at a meeting with the city and the federal government in an effort to figure out how to end the occupation in the city’s downtown core.
He has said the province’s absence at the meeting delayed the end of the occupation.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already been interviewed by commission lawyers and is set to testify at the inquiry.
The inquiry has heard Trudeau said Ford’s absence was due to political reasons, in a call between the prime minister and Watson in early February.
The commission wants to ask Ford and Jones why they did not come to that meeting and want to find out what role both played trying to solve the occupation in Ottawa and the protests that halted incoming traffic at the country’s busiest border crossing in Windsor for nearly a week.