Jeff Hutchinson

Jeff Hutchinson spoke 31 times across 1 day of testimony.

  1. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Jeffery Hutchinson. Pardon me; I’ll get closer to the mic. I’m Jeffery Hutchinson; J-e-f-f-e-r-y; surname, H-u-t-c-h-i-n-s-o-n.


  2. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    I’m a senior advisor at the Privy Council Office, and I currently have the duties of Assistant Secretary in Emergency Preparedness.


  3. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Certainly. My principal role is to support the Safety, Security, and Emergency Management Committee, and Minister Blair is the Chair of that committee. So I have a small team that ensures that we have membership agendas, appropriate documents that are ready for Cabinet consideration, that sort of thing. I also, as part of the functions that Ms. Bogden was describing, when there is an emergency of one sort or another, then I work with my counterpart at Public Safety, we have a fairly close partnership, and we can pull our counterparts across town together to make sure that we have good information-sharing, up-to-date situation reports, that kind of thing.


  4. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    The Assistant Deputy Minister of Emergency Management Preparedness Branch. His name is Trevor Bhupsingh.


  5. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    That question's for me? Sorry. There's a framework whereby provinces can make a request for federal assistance in certain circumstances, where they just need help in managing an emergency, and you see that in different situations. So after Hurricane Fiona, for example, you saw the military deployed for sandbagging and logistics and things like that. That's generally done under an RFA. Our role in that tends to be kind of at the level of coordination. It's actually our partners at Public Safety that really manage the core of that process. So a request comes in. Normally, with some advance warning, there's often discussion with the Province beforehand as to what's being sought, why, whether all available resources have been considered and utilised in the province. We're usually aware that it's come in. As it comes in, we know it goes to Public Safety, there are discussions between Public Safety and the Minister's office in terms of determining the outcome, and in the normal course, our response in the form of a letter would normally go to the province, and resources are deployed, or not, in accordance with the decision.


  6. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    That's correct.


  7. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Certainly. That’s correct. I was involved in those calls. So my understanding, and I don’t have first hand knowledge of this part, but Deputy Minister Stewart obtained the name of Marcel Beaudin as an expert in PLTs and crowd psychology, those kinds of issues. And he -- Deputy Minister Stewart intended to speak with Supt. Beaudin and he called me and asked me if -- or texted. I can’t remember how he contacted me. But he asked me if I would be willing to participate. I said certainly. As Ms. Bodgen mentioned earlier, this was kind of an all hands on deck moment. If you were asked to help, you helped. So you heard Deputy Minister Stewart describe my role as observer. And he just wanted to ensure that PCO had line of sight on the conversations. So we had a phone call with Supt. Beaudin. I agree with Deputy Minister Stewart’s characterization that we learned quite a bit about PLTs and engagement and sort of the general approach. I think it was underscored that the utility of this kind of engagement at this point in time would be to see if we could shrink the footprint of the protests, much more so than looking for a resolution or a complete pathway to ending the protests in Ottawa. It was more about that intermediate step of shrinking the footprint. My recollection of the discussion is that there was quite a bit of focus on the idea of leadership. And I know when Supt. Beaudin testified earlier in the Inquiry he used the word “juice”. And that was a term he used in our phone calls both on the 10th and the 11th, “Who has the juice?” And by that, he meant we need to find the leaders that have the influence on the ground so that if they were to enter into any kind of arrangement, that there would be people that would follow them in the execution of that arrangement. My recollection was that while there may have been numbers of leaders thrown around, certainly on the first day that was very much a question of we’ll need to see, we’re still assessing. And then Deputy Minister Stewart started to put the ideas on paper, there was a second call with Supt. Beaudin. There was also a discussion about how to keep the different lanes clear. And I think that has been referred to so far in the Inquiry as matters of church and state. How do we ensure that the police are operating under their authority, how do we ensure that engagement that might happen by officials or even at a political level are coordinated but not interfering with the police authority? So there was certainly an attentiveness to the coordination element of how this could play out. And based on those conversations, Deputy Minister Stewart put together a piece of paper, which I know is in the minutes from a subsequent IRG meeting, he put together a proposal for consideration at the IRG. My understanding of our intent in those meetings was to essentially test the viability of a proposal. It was a proposal for engagement. What was the best possible proposal, I guess, that we could put forward that might have a chance of being accepted? So it was about doing the leg work on putting together a proposal and then putting that up to decision makers to consider.


  8. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    The way Deputy Minister Stewart put that was that it wasn’t taken up. The way I put that in our witness summary was it didn’t proceed. I think that’s the best characterization.


  9. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Correct. I think that - - I probably shouldn’t have used that expression because it’s a bit of an idiom, but that comes from previous -- a previous stage of my career. But the discussion around engagement was essentially rendered moot by the events of the next couple of days, including the IRG and the Cabinet meeting, and then eventually the invocation of the Act.


  10. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    No, I was done.


  11. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    I wouldn’t necessarily have, like, first hand knowledge of that. I have no issue with his characterization.


  12. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)



  13. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Certainly, yes, it is. That’s correct. So as you will flesh out in more detail with other witnesses, after the invocation of the Act, there was fairly careful monitoring of how measures were implemented and the impact they were having, the daily meetings that we had had before invocation continued. And as we went into that next weekend, the 20th, I think, was the Sunday, if memory serves, and the large police action in Ottawa had taken place and circumstances had evolved at other protest sites across the country, including ports of entry. Earlier in the day, the National Security and Intelligence Advisor had reached out to the Deputy community implicated and asked, you know, essentially, “What’s your assessment of where we’re at with the need for the Emergencies Act?” And after that step, she turned to me and said, “Can you put some ideas on paper?” Unlike invocation, my understanding of the Act is that it doesn’t have specific criteria or a test for revocation, and so we were looking to put together policy advice on when revocation was appropriate. We had been -- it had been part of our narrative for that week that the Emergencies Act would be utilized only as long as necessary; and there were several people who would add to that, not a minute longer. It was really very -- a strong message to us, “Not a minute longer.” And I think in that weekend, the people who really do, as Ms. Bogden described, the PCO role, they’re really charged with looking ahead, what’s coming, what’s the next step? They knew that we needed to have the criteria in place. My first draft I would characterize as pretty rough. You can see some of my thinking there, which was influenced by some of the conversations I had earlier that day, that what we didn’t want to do was keep the Orders in place long enough that the emergency, the crisis started to recede, but then revoke the Orders at just the moment when everything could go back to the way it was, or worse. So you see my reflections on, you know, even if trucks have left downtown Ottawa, are they still positioned to come back? We didn’t want to be in a position of having things re-establish quickly. We -- so that kind of influenced the thinking, and the other thing I was trying to sort of think through was, you know, the Orders themselves; how would you assess that they had served their purpose? In this email exchange that you have pulled up, you see some back and forth with some Deputy Ministers, and Deputy Mike Keenan in particular used some language about, “Okay, these factors may be indicators of the sort of things we’re looking at but what this really comes down to is; is it necessary? Is it still necessary?” And the way I understood that language and the way I tried to use it from that point was you have to understand your threat level and then you have to understand whether that threat is manageable within the existing authorities, meaning outside of the Emergencies Act, or whether you still need the leverage of the Emergencies Act to address the threat that you’ve assessed. So it became two points, with some indicators that followed to help people think through the two points, but those two points became sort of the focus of how the advice evolved from that point.


  14. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Yeah, I guess that’s a fair characterization.


  15. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    I believe so.


  16. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    I don't know that acronym.


  17. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Good morning.


  18. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Yes, that sounds right.


  19. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    I don’t recall that specifically.


  20. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Yes. This was a pattern that we had observed across the country, that when a demonstration started we could never take it off the list. You might have a demonstration in downtown Toronto on one day and then you might have nothing for a few days and then you might have it again. So we monitored a lot of locations and we also noted from time to time the need for police resources to not only clear but hold. Now, that’s information that I received, obviously, second or thirdhand. That was my understanding, that -- in fact, I tried never to use the words “resolved” or “cleared” because it didn’t seem to describe the situation very accurately.


  21. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    I’ll take your word for it.


  22. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    I think I would have been aware of the injunction, but I didn’t read the Order at the time, nor do I recall being in any discussion of the specifics, per say.


  23. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Nothing that you’ve raised contradicts the information that I was privy to at the time.


  24. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Yes, I do.


  25. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    So in the PCO Secretariat, we get involved, as Ms. Bogden said, in all types of different hazards and discussions about all types of different hazards. And our perception of emergency legislation is as much about what are the tools to help and what enables help as -- that’s kind of our focus more than anything else. I was pretty struck during the summer when the U.K. could declare a national emergency over heat and take steps to protect their citizens under national legislation and, to my knowledge, and I’m learning on the job, as Deputy Stewart referred to the other day, to my knowledge, we don’t have that kind of framework. We’ve a little bit more of a patchwork. Now, you can say that that’s due to confederation versus a unitary system of government, but I do think that there’s room. And I think that I would take it one step further and say that if we could strengthen the tools and the frameworks around protecting critical infrastructure, we could actually -- by doing that, we’d be protecting the space for legal and safe demonstration in our democracy because the rules would be clearer and the protection of what impacts people the most would be well protected.


  26. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Yeah, so taking the comment in a very general sense, like not commenting on this situation specifically, we’re well aware from all of the situations that we manage that municipalities tend to be -- and communities tend to be the first responders. And we have to have the systems of support in place. Not that I’m suggesting, in any way, shape, or form that the Federal Government should be out of its lane. That’s not what I’m suggesting. But the lines of support, the lines of communication, the shared planning where necessary, the collaborative planning, those would all support each level or order of government being able to fulfil its function to the fullest.


  27. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Sure. The normal process would be for the response to be sent from Public Safety, and we usually speak about the official side or the political side or MNO, which is a acronym for Minister's Office. Normally, the signed letter from the minister would be sent by officials in Public Safety.


  28. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    That's my understanding.


  29. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    I can't answer that question definitively. What I can tell you is that I have been personally involved in trying to determine where the letter ended up, and I have -- all indications to me at this point are that it didn't get sent simply due to human error. There was a belief on the Public Service side that this was being done, exceptionally, from the Minister's Office, but the Minister's Office had no reason to believe it wasn't being done through the usual process on the Public Service side. So there were people who had the letter, signed letter, but to my knowledge I can't find any record of it having been sent.


  30. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    I concur with that description. As I said earlier, I -- my perspective was very much that a momentary pause in a demonstration had not, up to that point, or after, frankly, proven to be an end of a demonstration. So my view that weekend was that there was -- there continued to be a national crisis, that it was impacting communities in almost every province, that we continued to see injunctions, emergency legislation being used, sort of extraordinary actions. And evidence throughout this Inquiry has talked about how unique this situation was, but then the conversation has tended, with all due respect, has tended to be about specific locations. I think on the 12th or 13th, stepping back and looking at it nationally, it continued to be a unique situation with a lot of tools in play, but not a sense of resolution to the threat, the continued, particularly, in my way of thinking, particularly around the economic threat, which I understand would be a threat to property.


  31. Jeff Hutchinson, ADM (GC-PCO)

    Thank you.