A Canadian attorney for a public inquiry into the Freedom Convoy trucker protests suddenly collapsed on Wednesday, raising the alarm and temporarily halting proceedings.
Gabriel Poliquin was questioning Ontario Deputy Attorney General Mario Di Tommaso during a Public Order Emergency Commission hearing when the troubling incident unfolded on the livestream.
Mr Poliquin went through a handwritten document with Mr Di Tommaso.
“‘CMV’ – are these commercial vehicles?” he asked, referring to the notes.
Opening a plastic water bottle, Mr Poliquin suddenly lost consciousness, fell to his left and hit the ground with a loud crash, causing the witness to gasp in shock.
A long groan could be heard on the live stream as people rushed to his aid just before the feed was cut off.
“Oh dear God!” one heard a woman say.
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Emergency crews were called to the Library and Archives Canada building in downtown Ottawa while attorneys and bystanders were cleared from the hearing room, CBC reported.
Mr Poliquin’s condition remains unclear.
A spokesman for the inquiry told The Canadian Press that no further details about Mr Poliquin’s health would be released out of respect for him and his family.
Footage of the incident went viral on social media.
“This is really extremely troubling on a number of levels,” Canadian attorney and YouTuber David Freiheit wrote on Twitter.
Maxime Bernier, founder of the right-wing People’s Party of Canada, said: “This is perfectly normal. It happens all the time. Nothing to be surprised about.”
The trial was adjourned for several hours before resuming with another witness.
The commission, due to run until November 25, is investigating the Trudeau government’s use of the Emergency Act to crack down on weeks of protests against Covid lockdowns and mandates earlier this year.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s liberal government on February 14 invoked the emergency law for the first time in the country’s history to disperse protests in Ottawa and blockades at border crossings with the United States.
At their height, the protests – led by truck drivers furious over Covid vaccination requirements for freight transport across borders – drew 15,000 people to the capital and inspired copycat movements in other countries.
Mr Trudeau’s decision to invoke the emergency law divided opposition parties.
Emergency powers included the ability to freeze the bank accounts of people suspected of aiding the Freedom Convoy blockades without seeking a court order.
Critics accused the prime minister of using “a sledgehammer” on protesters, and a civil rights group has sued the government.
“The law now allows the government to legislate and bypass democracy in what it has called a national emergency for failing to provide evidence that satisfies us that it is in fact a national emergency,” he said Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s Noa Mendelsohn Aviv told Sky News Australia.
“Anyone who feels their rights have been violated must be able to do so [protest] … as long as it is peaceful and respects certain limits.
“And we are very concerned that the government is saying that this is a state of emergency and that they will be using these powers in a way that is not in line with the requirements of the law.”
Announcing the revocation of emergency powers later this month after riot police made hundreds of arrests and vehicle seizures, the Prime Minister said: “We are confident that existing laws and regulations are sufficient to keep people safe. “
Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters on Wednesday the blockades pose “a very serious challenge and threat to our national security and our economic security,” The Canadian Press reported.
Ms Freeland said the emergency law was necessary to “guarantee” safety. “It was a very big deal,” she said. “I hope and believe that something like this only happens once in a generation, if ever.”
– With AFP