Trudeau Government Invokes the Emergencies Act

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government invoked the Federal Emergencies Act to counter anti-vaccine mandate and anti-health restriction protests centered around the trucker convoy. This is the first time in Canadian history that the act has been used.

Passed in 1988 as a replacement for the War Measures Act (used in both World Wars and by the current Prime Minister’s father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau during the 1970 October Crisis), the Emergencies Act gives the Federal Government temporary powers to “take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times” and to supersede the jurisdictions of provincial and local authorities in order to deal with an “urgent and critical situation” (in this case a “public order emergency”).

The measures taken, though, must fall within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Government must declare which areas of the country the emergency extends to, unless it applies to all of Canada. In this case, Trudeau promised to geotarget the scope to places like the City of Ottawa, where big rigs have been parked and some protesters and residents have had altercations since the convoy first arrived two weeks ago, and other sites where traffic is blocked.

Both Quebec Premier François Legault and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet have stressed that they think the measures should stop at the Ontario/Quebec border, pointing to the fact that anti-vaccine mandate protests in Montreal and Quebec City already ended peacefully. Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, meanwhile, says that the fact Trudeau had to resort to this unprecedented measure shows a “failure in leadership”.

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