Ottawa: The independent Commissioners of the National Citizens Inquiry say testimony received during hearings across Canada raises important concerns that the response to COVID-19 negatively impacted the fabric of Canadian society. The Final Report of the Commissioners was released today.
The Report says the impacts encompass a wide range of areas, from personal freedoms and trust in institutions to economic, social and health consequences. To prevent such issues from happening in the future the Commissioners recommend that a study be commissioned to determine the validity of setting up a National Crisis Oversight Council.
The Report says, “The establishment of the National Crisis Oversight Council (NCOC) is essential to safeguard democratic principles, protect individual rights, and maintain public trust during future emergencies, such as pandemics. The NCOC will serve as an independent, multi-disciplinary body tasked with monitoring, policing, and investigating government actions during crises.”
The Commissioners identify the Basic Characteristics and Principles of the proposed NCOC:
- Representation: The NCOC will comprise representatives from diverse sectors of society, including law, medicine, science, faith, business, media, arts, culture, and more. Each member will undergo a public appointment process, with credentials and potential conflicts of interest transparently disclosed.
- Subpoena Powers: The council will possess subpoena powers, allowing it to compel testimony and evidence from all sectors, including government officials, the judiciary, and other relevant stakeholders.
- Public Access: To ensure transparency and accountability, the NCOC will provide direct and unfiltered access to the public. A user-friendly platform will enable citizens to express concerns, provide observations, and access council proceedings.
- Legislative Clarity: The powers and responsibilities of the NCOC will be clearly outlined in legislation, eliminating the need for regulatory details to be determined separately. This legal foundation will establish the council’s authority and scope.
- Empowerment for Change: The NCOC will have mechanisms to influence government actions during emergencies. It will be empowered to make recommendations, demand corrective actions, and trigger public awareness campaigns when necessary. Its primary goal will be to uphold democratic values, individual rights, and freedoms and the well-being of citizens.
- Media Access: The council is expected to have unrestricted access to all forms of media to maintain public trust and transparency. Regular briefings, reports, and public statements will keep citizens informed of its activities and findings.
Digital copies of the Report are available at https://nationalcitizensinquiry.ca/commissioners-report. Media inquiries concerning the National Citizens Inquiry should be directed to: [email protected]