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A timeline of some Incident Response Group meetings

An employee arrives at the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council building where members of the Federal governments Incident Response Group are meeting in Ottawa, Monday February 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is meeting today with the secretive Incident Response Group, a cabinet committee whose exact membership is kept under wraps. They’re set to discuss the ongoing anti-pipeline protests that have shut down swaths of the country’s rail system. Here’s a timeline of some of the committee’s previous meetings.

Aug. 28, 2018 — Trudeau creates the group as part of a cabinet shuffle. The announcement bills the new cabinet committee as a Canadian version of groups already in place with Five Eyes allies. The government says the group is “a dedicated, emergency committee that will convene in the event of a national crisis or during incidents elsewhere that have major implications for Canada” comprised by cabinet ministers and senior government leadership.  

Oct. 22, 2018 — The Incident Response Group meets to discuss the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was slain by the government of Saudi Arabia. This is the first time the government has announced a meeting of the group. It’s not clear who was present, but the government says both Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland, who was then foreign affairs minister, were there.

Jan. 9, 2020 — The group meets again to discuss the crash of Flight 752 in Iran, which killed all 176 people aboard, including 57 Canadians and many more residents of this country. Trudeau says this is the fourth time the group has met. Soon after the meeting, Trudeau announces that evidence suggests the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. As more information becomes available about the crash, the group meets on this topic at least once more. After that meeting, Trudeau announces Ottawa will provide $25,000 compensation to the families of Canadian victims.

Jan. 27, 2020 — The committee meets to discuss the novel coronavirus, later dubbed COVID-19. After the second meeting, Trudeau announces that Canada will evacuate Canadians from Wuhan, the quarantined epicentre of the outbreak.

Feb. 17, 2020 — The group convenes to discuss rail blockades that have shut down parts of the country’s train system for several days.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press