It was recently reported that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken major action against the trucker convoy that has been a thorn in his side.
On Monday, he told his cabinet and Canada’s premiers that he would invoke the Emergencies Act to crack down on the convoy.
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It is the first time the act, which took the place of the War Measures Act in 1988, has ever been implemented, Reuters reported.
“The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety,” the prime minister said at a news conference. “We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue.”
Protesters blockaded the Ambassador Bridge, a vital trade route between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, for six days before police cleared the protest on Sunday while others have shut down smaller border crossings in Alberta, Manitoba, and British Columbia.
Protests in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, entered the third week.
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Protesters camped in front of the Canadian Parliament, some of whom want the prime minister to meet with them, said the latest steps were excessive.
“It’s an extreme measure that isn’t necessary,” said protester Candice Chapel.
The financial measures bring crowdfunding platforms under terror-finance oversight, authorize Canadian banks to freeze accounts suspected of funding the blockades, and suspend insurance on vehicles in the protests, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has hit back at the measures.
They said that the protests did not meet the standards for the Act to be invoked, which exists for “the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada” and only for actions that “cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.”
“The federal government has not met the threshold necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act.
This law creates a high and clear standard for good reason: the Act allows the government to bypass ordinary democratic processes. This standard has not been met,” it said on Twitter.
“The Emergencies Act can only be invoked when a situation ‘seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada’ & when the situation ‘cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada,’” it said.
“Governments regularly deal with difficult situations and do so using powers granted to them by democratically elected representatives. Emergency legislation should not be normalized. It threatens our democracy and our civil liberties,” he said.
Mount Royal University, Calgary, politics professor Lori Williams said that the use of the Act “could create more problems.”
“There’s the danger this could create more problems, that’s why this has to be done with the cooperation of premiers and if they don’t want help, then the federal government needs to hang back. It has to be very targeted, very strategic, and very restrained because these are enormous powers that are being implemented,” she said.
The act gives the government temporary powers it does not normally have, such as the power to impose special restrictions on public assembly and travel and to mobilize federal support for local and provincial police. It gives the federal government power to implement temporary measures to ensure safety and security during national emergencies.
A declaration of a public welfare emergency allows the government to regulate the distribution of essential goods, decide what are essential services, and impose fines on violations of the act. It sets out a compensation scheme for those who suffer damages as a result of its application.
Banks and financial institutions will be able to temporarily freeze the accounts of those suspected of supporting the blockades, without obtaining a court order. The insurance on vehicles being used in the protests can also be suspended.