Last Updated on February 14, 2022
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced plans to invoke the never-before-used Emergencies Act to give the federal government extra powers to handle the protests across the country. Freedom Convoy protesters have been peacefully demonstrating for over two weeks in protest of vaccine mandates, particularly in Ottawa, where protesters have remained camped outside Canadian federal buildings since the protests began.
Trudeau informed premiers of his decision on Monday morning, according to Radio-Canada. The prime minister also told the Liberal (Liberal Party of Canada) caucus that he has no plans on deploying the military during a meeting. The Emergencies Act defines a national emergency as a “temporary urgent and critical situation” that seriously “endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it.”
The act grants cabinet the ability to “take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times” to cope with an emergency and the resulting fallout during an “urgent and critical situation.”
The act was designed to give the sitting prime minister powers to respond to four different types of emergency scenarios: public welfare (natural disasters, disease), public order (civil unrest), international emergencies and war emergencies. These new steps will give Trudeau extraordinary but time-limited powers. The act is still contingent on Parliament’s approval and subject to the protections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Trudeau has referred to the peaceful demonstrations as an “insurrection” and an “occupation” in recent weeks. The prime minister has refused to meet with the protesters, initially claiming COVID. In a February 8 statement, Trudeau told Parliament that protesters “have the right to be heard”, but then called for the protests to disperse. “It has to stop. The people of Ottawa don’t deserve to be harassed in their own neighborhoods. They don’t deserve to be confronted with the inherent violence of a swastika flying on a street corner, or a Confederate flag,” Trudeau said. “That’s not who Canada and Canadians are. That’s not what Canadians demonstrated over the past two years. This blockade, these protesters, they’re not the story of this pandemic.”
Trudeau and other Canadian leaders have baselessly smeared protesters of having ties to “hate groups” based on a miniscule group of unidentified individuals who were photographed with Swastikas. Trudeau’s statement had a heavy focus on “Swastikas” and “harassment”, of which he provided no examples. Mainstream media outlets have also advanced these claims while also pushing conspiracy theories that link the protesters with the Russian government.
“Individuals are trying to blockade our economy, our democracy, and our fellow citizens’ daily lives—It has to stop,” asserts Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he speaks in an emergency House of Commons debate concerning the ongoing trucker protests in Ottawa.#cdnpoli | #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/8MiFqhjcLR
— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) February 8, 2022
“Our movement has grown across Canada and across the world because common people are tired of the mandates and restrictions on their lives that now seem to be doing more harm than good.” said convoy spokeswoman Tamara Lich. She then listed several European countries, including Finland, Norway, Ireland and Denmark, who have recently dropped all COVID mandates and restrictions. “We are therefore calling for all levels of government in Canada to end all COVID mandates and restrictions. We will continue our protest until we see a clear plan for their elimination.”
Lich also blasted Trudeau and his government for their incendiary rhetoric and biased portrayals of the protesters. “So far, nobody from the federal, provincial or municipal government has spoken directly with us. Instead, they are using [the media] to portray us as racists, misogynists and even terrorists.”
The protesters have promised to disperse if Trudeau and other Canadian government leaders drop all COVID-related restrictions and mandates.