Mr. Chair, while I appreciate the comments from Mr. Virani, I think it's important to recognize that we all know that the declaration of the Emergencies Act by the Governor in Council was unprecedented in Canadian legal and national security history. The use of the Emergencies Act, the orders and the regulations established in the act and their enforcement are all subject to various legal tests and thresholds that previously have never been applied or tested in any way.
We know that the advice provided by the Department of Justice and supported by intelligence and analysis from Canada's national security and intelligence community formed the basis for the cabinet's decision to invoke the act and what measures were necessary.
However, I'm of the opinion that the government has not clearly articulated the legal basis for these decisions or how the evolving facts or threat picture supported the imposition of such extraordinary measures. In short, it's possible that the strengths, or weaknesses, of the government's legal positions have not yet been tested or assessed by legal experts, except those within the Department of Justice.
Now, understanding this particular threat and these legal thresholds, it is critical, in my opinion, to this committee's task in reviewing the powers, the duties and functions exercised pursuant to the declaration and as legislated.... Unfortunately, the development of and reliance upon confidential legal opinions based on potentially classified information known only to Department of Justice lawyers and national security officials and agencies they advise has proven problematic in recent years, and a fact highlighted even in the Federal Court of Canada.
Therefore, I believe it's imperative that this committee benefit from outside, independent legal advice and analysis for us to be able to do a fulsome and complete review of the evidence that will be presented to us, and to advise us, because this is a major undertaking that many of us around this table may not have the experience or the expertise necessary to maybe seek certain witnesses or to ask certain questions. I think it would be important for us to have someone who meets the threshold of the skills described in the motion to be able to give us, and Canadians, the most transparent and accountable view of the invocation of this act.