Concerns over PM’s move to invoke Emergencies Act

Blockades at border crossings across the country, including B.C., have prompted the prime minister to invoke the Emergencies Act — an unprecedented move.

This is the first time the act has been triggered in Canada’s history and not everyone is happy about it.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) says it doesn’t think the federal government met the high and clear threshold needed to invoke the act.

“The Emergencies Act is there to address these kinds of extreme threats to Canada, not to protect the economy,” CCLA executive director Noa Mendelsohn Aviv said in a statement.

“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,” Aviv added.

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In 1988, the act replaced the War Measures Act, which was invoked by former prime minister and Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, for the October Crisis.

The Emergencies Act gives the federal government the power to ban public gatherings in specific areas and take control of public services it deems necessary to deal with the situation. It also allows them to issue fines and jail time to those who breach public orders.

Some are questioning whether this move is necessary, suggesting current laws already allow police to take action on protestors.

Premiers from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta have spoken out against its use. 

B.C.’s Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth said he supports the move.

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has already expressed his party’s support. However, Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen will not yet say whether her party will get behind the measure.

“Conservatives want to see an end to the blockades. We want to see them ended peacefully and quickly, in a way that Canadians feel that they have been respected and heard by their prime minister. We are concerned that the actions of the prime minister will not have that effect but will in fact have the opposite effect,” Bergen said Monday.

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A number of border crossings have been blocked across the country over the last few weeks. At the same time a demonstration against mandates and other COVID-19 measures continues in Ottawa.

One blockade at the Pacific Highway border crossing between Surrey and Blaine, WA was cleared late Monday night.

With files from Hana Mae Nassar

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