Leer en Español
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has all but declared war on the truckers and the peaceful protests that have been taking place in Canada for nearly three weeks by invoking the “Emergencies Act” to “restore order across the country.”
This Emergencies Act, which has not been invoked since World War II, gives the government special powers to “override civil liberties in the name of restoring public order,” explained Dan Bilesfky, Canada correspondent for the New York Times.
Through this decision, the Canadian government gave full authority to financial institutions to block bank accounts of protesters and individuals associated with the truckers’ peaceful protests. No particular court action is required to close a bank account, only reasonable doubt on the part of the banks. These measures are usually mostly used to prevent transactions or operations linked to terrorism.
“Trudeau knows there is no violence amongst the truckers. The Ambassador Bridge was cleared easily and peacefully. It’s really just peaceful protests now,” said activist and journalist Ezra Levant. “The real move today is not policing. It’s being able to seize opposition/conservative bank accounts — without a court order.”
Journalist Rupa Subramanya, who wrote an article debunking the Trudeau government’s narrative of violence at the trucker protests, asked in outrage if this was the first time an “advanced” Western democracy “has invoked the maximum emergency powers” that allows it to undermine peaceful protests that “have been way below the threshold of violence.”
Emergency Act: abusive and illegal
According to Canadian legal experts, the peaceful protests in Ottawa and nationally are by no means a sufficient reason for Justin Trudeau to invoke an Emergency Act almost unheard of in the history of the North American country.
“Just to be clear: The situation in Ottawa is eminently not a valid basis for the invocation of the Emergencies Act (as J. Singh appears to have suggested). Treating it as a public order emergency that authorizes a latter-day War Measures Act will create an appalling precedent,” said Ryan Alford, a professor at Bora Laskin Law School.
On February 13, several Canadian media outlets revealed that Justin Trudeau, along with his cabinet, were weighing implementing the Emergencies Act, something that caused uproar and outrage across the North American country, including on social media.
David Anber, a criminal lawyer who defines himself as “a defender of free speech, individual rights and common sense,” posted a lengthy thread on Twitter explaining why “Trudeau’s Emergencies Act” is illegal.
To invoke this “Emergencies Act,” according to the preamble to what the law states, “a ‘national emergency’ is needed that requires the Act to ‘ensure safety & security’ during the emergency,” Anber alleged.
“Looking at what’s going on in Ottawa right now, it’s hard to say this is a “national emergency” let alone one that puts safety/security in issue,” he said.
Anber explained that, in addition to “national emergency,” invoking an “Emergencies Act” requires that the situation “seriously threaten” the following “obligations” of the state: security of the people; protection of the values of the body politic; or preservation of the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the state.
Scott Moe, Saskatchewan premier and leader of the Saskatchewan Party, spoke out against “illegal blockades” but also against the Emergencies Act invoked by the government before it was made official.
“The illegal blockades must end, but police already have sufficient tools to enforce the law and clear the blockades, as they did over the weekend in Windsor,” Moe said. “Therefore, Saskatchewan does not support the Trudeau government invoking the Emergencies Act. If the federal government does proceed with this measure, I would hope it would only be invoked in provinces that request it, as the legislation allows.”
Moe was not the only provincial premier to take a stand against the Emergencies Act, Manitoba’s Heather Stefanson and Quebec’s Francois Legault also came out against the Act in strong terms.
Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta, said on Twitter “This morning I told Prime Minister Trudeau that Alberta’s Government is opposed to the invocation of the federal Emergencies Act. We have all of the legal tools and operational resources required to maintain order. The Act would add no relevant additional powers or resources.”
The announcement of the almost unprecedented Emergencies Act comes after the Liberals rejected a Conservative motion in Parliament to lift all health measures.
The protests in Canada became a global reference, prompting millions of citizens around the world to demonstrate against the sanitary impositions implemented in their respective countries. Although the Canadian government and the world media have discredited the Canadian truckers — calling them “white supremacists”, “racists” or “anti-vaccine” — the images show thousands of citizens of all ages and races, demonstrating peacefully against what they consider a governmental abuse.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
Contacto: [email protected]