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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Invokes Emergencies Act

February 24, 2022

The news cycle churns a mile a minute and by the time you read this column, the Emergencies Act will have come and gone. So that begs the question: Why did Prime Minister Trudeau invoke the Act?

For the first three weeks in the month of February, Ottawa was caught up in international news. It’s not often our country is the headline story around the world, but the cross-country convoy and subsequent protest in Ottawa did it. What began as a convoy of freedom-loving Canadians opposing mandates from coast-to-coast driving to the Capital to make their voice heard, became a weeks long camp site. The original message may have been lost in the mix. Thousands of locals flocked in during the weekends, music blared, people danced, horns honked. Some called it an occupation, others called it a party. But how ever you’d like to classify the protest, it was an event that captivated the country and even the world for several weeks – and surely unlike anything I’ve seen in the capital city. The unfortunate part was that the protest was so large it spilled into residential areas, which subjected residents to noise, blocking of streets, and havoc.

But there was a real sense that the frustration from two long years of pandemic restrictions was boiling over. Among the crowds were truckers protesting the cross-border mandate, people that lost their jobs due to restrictions and mandates, and those that simply had enough with pandemic restrictions. At a time when the world seemed to be re-opening completely, the federal government lagged. Conservative MPs asked questions to the government but all we got back were the same boring talking points over and over. Conservatives moved a motioned for a plan – just a plan! – Liberals and the NDP voted it down.

The unfortunate part of this protest was the way in which information was disseminated. In this age of information that is accessible immediately and from a variety of sources, I plead with everyone: please do your due diligence, check your information against a few different sources. It is up to all of us to combat fake news and misinformation.

What became a problem were the blockades. Conservatives believe in law and order, therefore illegal blockades that do more damage than good was not the way to go. We must protect the right of peaceful assembly, but we mustn’t allow illegal blockading of critical infrastructure. Be it at a pipeline site, a border bridge, or residential streets.

Which brings me to the Emergencies Act. The border blockades were cleared before the invocation of the Act and if the Ottawa police force wished to move the trucks, they had the means to do so. There was no indication for the need of the Emergencies Act and it now sets a dangerous precedent for the future. Emergency powers should not be normalized and must always meet the necessary requirements for the invocation. The ability to seize finances without due process is a chilling proposition. We are continuing to hold the government to account on this issue, as the Public Safety committee has begun their inquiry. As we move to focus on the Ukraine crisis, the Emergencies Act will still be a focus of official inquiries.

What do you think of the past few weeks in Canadian politics?