Nusra Khan

Nusra Khan spoke 71 times across 2 days of testimony.

  1. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Good morning, Mr. Commissioner. Nusra Khan, Commission counsel. I’ll just wait for the PowerPoint to be pulled up on the screen there. Okay, perfect. So I’ll be presenting the overview report titled “Federal Government Entities Involved in the Decision to Invoke the Emergencies Act”. This overview report is now available to the parties om the party database and will be posted on the Commission’s web site for the public very shortly. The document ID for this report is COM.OR00000008. Next slide, please. By way of introduction, this presentation focuses on the mandates of three key federal entities, that is, the Federal Executive, the Prime Minister, Cabinet and the Governor in Council, the Privy Council Office and the Prime Minister’s Office. Of course, there were many other departments and agencies implicated in the decision to declare a Public Order emergency, and the Commissioner will hear from evidence -- will hear evidence from these witnesses in the coming two weeks. The purpose of this overview report is to contextualize and frame the anticipate evidence for the benefit of the parties, the public and, of course, the Commissioner. Next slide, please. So we’ll begin with the definition. Section 17(1) of the Emergencies Act designs the formal authority to declare the existence of a Public Order emergency to the Governor in Council. The term “Governor in Council” refers to the Governor-General of Canada acting on the advice of the King’s Privy Council for Canada. The King’s Privy Council, in turn, is a technical term that describes the full group of people who have the authority to advise the sovereign or the Governor-General acting as the representative of the sovereign. In practical terms, however, references to the King’s Privy Council are references to the Federal Cabinet. The Federal Cabinet is a committee of the Privy Council and is effectively its only operative branch. And by constitutional convention, the Governor- General is required to follow the advice given by Cabinet. This is, of course, a fundamental part of our system of responsible government. Next slide, please. So here we have an organizational chart depicting the structure of the Federal Executive Branch. You’ll see that while the formal authority to govern is vested in the Governor- General, that authority is exercised on the advice of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. In turn, Prime Minister and Cabinet are supported by two central offices: the Privy Council Office and the Prime Minister’s Office. So to put it into context, the four Orders in Council that were issued by the Governor in Council in the context of the Public Order emergency were issued on the advice of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Next slide. Thanks. The Federal Cabinet is a political decision- making body that consists of all Federal Ministers as well as the Prime Minister. The Cabinet is sometimes referred to as the Federal Ministry. Cabinet is the forum wherein the government of the day sets its priorities and decides how to advance these priorities. The Prime Minister sets the agenda and will lead Ministers to agreement in making Cabinet decisions, but the final and ultimate decision-making authority rests with the Prime Minister. Cabinet members are governed by two related conventions, Cabinet solidarity and Cabinet confidentiality. Cabinet solidarity requires that Ministers as a group be held accountable to Parliament for their government’s actions. Cabinet confidentiality requires that Ministers not disclose the substance of their Cabinet discussions to the public. The two principles are, of course, intertwined because Cabinet confidentiality allows Ministers to frankly and vigorously discuss their views with their colleagues in private while remaining united in their decisions to the public. Ministers are also individually responsible for the federal departments they oversee. The powers and duties in respect of their departments are set out in their departmental statutes. In practice, however, the day-to-day operations of a federal department or agency are carried out by the Deputy Minister and civil servants. A Deputy Minister is the senior-most member of the professional non-partisan public service. Finally, every Minister is supported by a Ministerial Office consisting of a political staff in carrying out their duties as members of Parliament. Political staff are sometimes referred to as exempt staff because they are not bound by the strict impartiality rules that apply to the public service and are, instead, temporary political appointees. So there’s a clear separation between political staff and the public servants who work with in federal departments in that political staff do not have the authority to give direction or instruction to public servants. Next slide, please. So here we have another organizational chart that depicts the work of Cabinet and Cabinet committees. The work of the government is also carried out by several Cabinet committees. The protests and the government’s response to the protests were discussed by two Cabinet committees in particular. The first was the Cabinet Committee on Safety, Security and Emergencies, or SSE, which was chaired by the Minister of Emergency Preparedness. The SSE met on February 3rd, 6th and 8th. The second Cabinet committee was the Incident Response Group, or IRG. The IRG took over the management of the issue after February 8th and was chaired by the Prime Minister and, therefore, had decision-making authority. The IRG met on February 10th, 12th and 13th, and then daily thereafter between February 16th and February 23rd. I will also add that there were two full Cabinet meetings at which the protests and the invocation of the Emergencies Act was discussed. These meetings took place on February 3rd and February 15th. Turning now to the Prime Minister’s Office, the PMO is a central political agency supporting the Prime Minister in his three roles as the head of government, the leader of a political party and a Member of Parliament. PMO staff advise the Prime Minister on policy issues, communications and Parliamentary affairs, and PMP is led by a Chief of Staff who reports directly to the Prime Minister and is also appointed by the Prime Minister. Like the staff at Ministerial offices, all staff at the PMO are exempt staff in that they are temporary political appointees. The PMO operates as a critical link between the partisan interests and agenda of the Prime Minister and the general workings of government. For instance, PMO maintains close relationships with political staff at Ministers’ offices as well as with officials at the Privy Council Office, and PMO officials often attend Cabinet meetings. The Privy Council Office, or PCO, is the central coordinating agency within the federal government. And in contrast to PMO, the PCO provides non-partisan advice to the Prime Minister and Cabinet and ensures that the government’s agenda is implemented across all federal departments and agencies. And for this reason, PCO is sometimes referred to as the Prime Minister’s Department. PCO is led by the clerk of the Privy Council. The clerk holds the additional titles of the Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister, the Secretary to Cabinet and the Head of the Public Service. And as a Secretary to Cabinet, the clerk is responsible for the smooth operation of Cabinet business, including the preparation of Cabinet memoranda and the keeping of Cabinet confidences. In addition to its primary role as the central coordinating agency, PCO also serves as the department for some Ministers. This includes the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, who is supported by the Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat, as well as the Minister of Emergency Preparedness, who is supported the Emergency Preparedness and COVID-19 Recovery Secretariat. Another important PCO actor is the National Security and Intelligence Advisor, or the NSIA. The NSIA holds the title of Deputy Secretary to Cabinet and provides national security advice and intelligence briefings to the Prime Minister, as well as to Cabinet. The Office of the NSIA plays a coordinating and convening function amongst national security agencies and the Office of the NSIA itself consists of four secretariats and is responsible for convening two standing committees of senior civil servants. The NSIA also acts as the Secretary to the Incident Response Group. So this chart depicts the relationship between the Privy Council Office, federal departments and agencies, and the various secretariats within PCO. It should be noted that there is no legislation governing the role of the NSAI or PCO, as these entities are meant to play only an advisory, secretarial, and coordination function to Cabinet. The NSAI chairs the Deputy Minister’s Operations and Coordination Committee, or DMOCC, and the Assistant Secretary to Cabinet Security and Intelligence cochairs the Assistant Deputy Minister’s Committee on National Security and Operations, or ADMNSOPs. Both the ADMNSOPs and DMOCC met frequently, in fact almost daily, in late January and throughout February 2022 to discuss the government’s response to the protests. Finally, the departments and agencies listed on this slide were also involved in the Federal Government’s response to the protests and blockades and the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act. And as I mentioned earlier, witnesses from each of these departments are expected to testify in the coming weeks, and I would invite the parties to consult the Institutional Reports prepared by each department for a fuller explanation of the Department’s mandate and involvement. So that concludes the presentation on this overview report. But before I go, I would also like to enter three additional overview reports prepared by Commission Counsel and that I understand the parties have had the chance to review. First, Commission Counsel are entering a ---


  2. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Commission Counsel are entering a report summarizing the proceedings commenced in response to the protests in January and February 2022, including judicial review proceedings commenced to challenge the invocation of the Emergencies Act. The document ID for this report is COM.OR00000001. The second report that Commission Counsel are entering is a report summarizing the protests that occurred at six international ports of entry in January and February 2022. The document ID for this report is COM.OR0000006. And the final overview report that Commission Counsel are entering is a report summarizing the oversight responsibilities of Parliament and the Parliamentary Review Committee under the Emergencies Act. The document ID for this report is COM.OR00000007. And with that, that concludes my comments. Thank you.


  3. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Yes, thank you, Mr. Commissioner.


  4. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Just a small clarification coming out of the overview report that was presented this morning. The first Cabinet meeting of full Cabinet in relation to the convoy was held on February 13th and not February 3rd. Thanks.


  5. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Good morning. It’s good to see you again. Good morning, Mr. Commissioner. For the record, I’m Nusra Khan, Commission Counsel. I think my questions are probably best placed to you, Ms. Tessier, but as Mr. Cameron said, please, if the other panelists feel able, jump in where you feel it’s appropriate. So I would like to go through the IMVE framework that the service has adopted with you. And I understand that this terminology and this framework is something that the service has adopted as a policy framework in recent years. Is that correct?


  6. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. So I’m going to pull up a placemat, which I think you’re no doubt familiar with. It’s COM00000946. And while that’s coming up, perhaps -- you’ve touched on this already a bit, Ms. Tessier, but perhaps you can explain what led to the adoption of this terminology and this framework?


  7. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. And so I understand you’re referring to the four criteria that are set out in this placemat there. So we see willingness to kill, attempting to affect societal change, ideological influence, and serious violence. So these are the criteria that would lead the service to determine that there is a threat under 2(c) in particular. Is that right?


  8. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. So perhaps we can walk through the criteria in turn. So I’ll just note, actually, before we go there, a threat actor in this scenario is not somebody that the target -- that the service is investigating. Is that correct?


  9. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So in order for somebody to move from being an actor into a target, ---


  10. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    --- these -- they would have to meet these three criteria; correct?


  11. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    And an actor doesn’t necessarily need to be a person or an individual? Is that correct?


  12. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    And would that -- could that include cells, or platforms, or networks more broadly?


  13. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. So perhaps let’s go to the first criteria, willingness to kill or inspire others to kill. So what would be sufficient to meet that criteria?


  14. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. So I just -- I want to pick up on something you just said there. You said it could be destruction to property as well, if it leads to loss of life. Is that a fair characterization?


  15. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So there has to be the potential for loss of life?


  16. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So if we zoom into this placemat on to Scenario 3 there, this is a scenario in which, presumably, there’s a threat to one of Canada’s 10 critical infrastructure sectors, and loss of life isn’t an objective, per se, but it’s a possible outcome, and that’s what would trigger this criteria.


  17. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So if we just scroll to the next page, please, Mr. Clerk? So I think there’s a definition up there about serious violence, and if we just zoom in a little bit more and scroll to the right. Serious violence in relation to the 10 Government of Canada critical infrastructures is defined as: “A threat actor who willfully destroys or damages property if such actions could endanger a person’s life.” (As read) And that’s what we were just referring to; correct?


  18. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So, for example, a willingness to engage in just pure destruction of property if all the other criteria are met wouldn’t be sufficient to bring somebody up to the level of being a target; is that correct?


  19. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. And so would an example of this be somebody, for instance, who might want to tear down a statue for an ideological purpose and for a desire to affect societal change, but because the potential of loss of life isn’t made out, they wouldn’t rise to the level of being a threat; is that correct?


  20. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. And how might an actor demonstrate a willingness to kill or to inspire others to kill? So you mentioned inciting violence; would that be posting things online?


  21. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. And would passive engagement or consumption of that content indicate a willingness to kill?


  22. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Perhaps somebody who’s engaging with violent content online.


  23. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Just looking at it, reading it, browsing it, would that be sufficient to meet this criteria?


  24. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So we’ll turn to the next criteria, which is desire to attempt societal change. If we can just zoom out, Mr. Clerk? And just go back up to the top page, please. So can you expand on what might meet this criteria, “Attempting to affect societal change”?


  25. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    And so would somebody who’s protesting meet the criteria for attempting to affect societal change?


  26. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. And so protest alone, protest alone wouldn’t be sufficient to meet this criteria?


  27. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. And so turning to the third criteria there, “Ideological Influence,” you’ve touched on this already in using the word, “Movement,” so I see in the top left corner of that placemat, if we zoom in just on the bubble that says, “Ideologically motivated,” I see there are four, I think, broad movements that the Service has identified as falling under this category. Can you speak to them, please?


  28. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So why does the Service use the lens of movements and not discrete groups?


  29. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. And so these are broad categories, broad networks, and participation in any one of them, of course, isn’t alone on its own because you’ve got the other criteria there.


  30. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So can you just explain to the Commission what the anti-public health measures movement is?


  31. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    And that would fall under which of these categories?


  32. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. And so what would be -- what would be that anchor that brings it into the purview of the Service?


  33. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. And so that reference to serious violence is effectively what brings you back to 2C.


  34. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    And you mentioned another word there, Ms. Tessier, accelerationism; can you expand on what that is?


  35. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. And so I understand from your Institutional Report and from your witness summaries that the Service has seen a rise in anti-public health measures content online. Is that fair?


  36. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    And has that posed a challenge at all for the Service?


  37. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Yes. So how does the Service go about distinguishing between credible threats of violence and something might just be a social media post that expresses anti- authority views?


  38. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. So -- please.


  39. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)



  40. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. And this trade craft that ITAC applies would be, or the methodology, is distinct from these three or four criteria that the Service is applying. Is that correct?


  41. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay, thank you. So I'm going to ask you to define two big concepts, and so I'll pose this question to the whole panel. One thing that the Services is struggling with, as I understand, is dealing with mis-information and dis-information as it navigates the challenges of determining between assessing credible threats online and online rhetoric. So can you explain to the Commission what mis-information and dis-information might mean and how that impacts your work in determining threats under section 2(c)?


  42. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So engaging -- where would engaging with mis-information or dis-information fall on these criteria? Sorry, can you just zoom out a little bit more, Mr. Clerk.


  43. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. So you're aware of the fact that there are things circulating online that might not be violent rhetoric or that might not reflect a desire to engage in violence, but you've got to keep a general awareness of that. Is that fair to say?


  44. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Thank you. I'd like to shift gears now... So we can just take that document down, Mr. Clerk. Thank you. ...and talk to you about the services, activities in respect of the convoy, in particular. So as I understand it, the Service was aware or had pre-existing targets and came to learn of the convoy through that activity. Is that fair?


  45. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. And so the Service had pre-existing targets who might have been involved?


  46. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. But the Service was not investigating the anti public health measures movement broadly, for example, and it certainly wasn't investigating the convoy itself as a discrete topic.


  47. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Is that right?


  48. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. And so the Service's focus remained at all times on its targets and their participation or their involvement, as it may be, in those protests?


  49. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. So looking -- so would it be fair to say CSIS was looking at the protests in conjunction with its targets, as the Section 2(c) definition allows?


  50. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So looking for potential threats?


  51. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. I would like to pull up a document, TSNSCCAN00000165. So I’ll just -- I’ll take you through a few briefs that the Service prepared in the course of the protests, and we can discuss them. So do you recognize this document, Mr. Vigneault?


  52. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Can you explain to us what it is?


  53. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)



  54. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So this would’ve been a Ministerial briefing that you would have provided, is that right?


  55. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. And so this is January 27th, around the time of the first ADMNSOPS meeting; is that fair?


  56. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. So I just want to go through the content. If we can scroll down a bit, we have sort of the very first assessment prepared by the Service, I think, of the Freedom Convoy. And so there’s a bullet there that says: “CSIS in investigating IMVE activities and monitoring IMVE social media content. There has been online commentary calling for violence and storming Parliament Hill buildings.” And then the next bullet: “CSIS is tracking...engagement of [its] targets in relation to the convoy. Over the coming days, CSIS will be monitoring the involvement of these targets and other persons of [interest], in particular for any indications of mobilization to violence.” So what does -- what do those two bullets mean there? What does, “...CSIS will be monitoring the involvement of these targets and other persons of [interest], in particular for any indications of mobilization to violence” mean?


  57. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So is the assessment there that there is a possibility of a lone actor; correct? Is that it?


  58. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So a person that’s not known to the Service but that could ---


  59. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    --- be radicalized. So at the bottom there we see the bullet: “CSIS is unaware, at this time, of any tangible plots or plans of serious violence.” And so at this stage there’s no risk of a threat materializing?


  60. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. So we’ll go to the next brief, which is TSNSCCAN00100000166. So do you recognize this document?


  61. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. And can you explain to us what it is?


  62. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Who would you have been sharing this brief with?


  63. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    And that would ---


  64. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    And would it have been shared with PCO?


  65. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. Thank you. If we scroll down to page 3 here. If we see the assessment here: “Aside from individuals who specifically identified themselves as part of the convoy group, the Service is unaware of the presence of IMVE groups at this weekend’s protest.” Then if we scroll down all the way: “The presence of racist and bigoted flags appear to have been brought by individuals who would like others to believe that their cause [of] or belief is far greater and more organized than it actually is. CSIS assesses that these flags were not part of a broader group initiative.” So this is February 2nd, and the Service is still reporting there isn’t a threat under section 2 (c) arising from the protest itself; is that fair to say?


  66. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Right. So at this stage, we’re seeing indicators or symbols at the protest that might lead one to believe that there are extremist groups involved in the protest and the service is saying that’s not necessarily the case?


  67. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. So I’ll take you to the last brief, and that’s TS.NSC.CAN.001.00000211, please. Okay. So if we can just zoom out a bit so we can see the entire page a bit, please? So I believe this brief is dated February 10th. Are you familiar with this document?


  68. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    I think it’s just at the bottom of the page there.


  69. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    So this is a brief, again, on the protests. If we just look at the title, it says: “Anti- Public Health Measures Movement, Grievances and the Freedom Convoy 2022”. So if we scroll to the bottom of page 2 we have the outlook prepared by the service. Sorry, if we scroll up a bit as well? So we see there, just before the redaction: “No formal organized plot of violence has been identified.” “CSIS assess that the Freedom Convoy 2022 is of interest to various subjects of investigation, especially those who hold anti-mandate […] or broader anti- government views.” And then just underneath “Outlook” there: “CSIS will continue to monitor the involvement of IMVE’s within the Freedom Convoy 2022 in order to better understand the […] public health measures movement.” So what is the assessment being shared here?


  70. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. And so the last question that I’ll pose to you before I turn it back over to Mr. Cameron is, you know, we’ve heard -- the Commission has heard evidence about the distinction between lawful and unlawful protests. So in this period between January 27th up to February 10th, you know, you might have even formed the view, just as a personal opinion, that the protest might have gone from being a lawful one to an unlawful one. Would that have had any bearing on your assessments or on your work?


  71. Nusra Khan, Counsel (POEC)

    Okay. Thank you.