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Saturday , 28 May 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invokes The Federal Emergencies Act in Canada

The Federal Emergencies Act in Canada has been invoked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to end protests currently happening in Canada.

The never-before-used Emergencies Act gives the federal government extra powers to handle anti-vaccine mandate protests.

“It is disrupting the lives of too many Canadians. Here in our capital city, families, small businesses have been enduring illegal obstruction of their neighborhoods, occupying streets, harassing people breaking the law,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “This is not a peaceful protest at the borders in different parts of the country. The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety.”

Prime Minister Trudeau made the decision despite the fact that protests have been peaceful in Ottawa, and at other locations within Canada which have been captured by thousands of Canadians on social media.

The Emergencies Act, which replaced the War Measures Act in the 1980s, 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 federal government is ready to use more tools at its disposal to get the situation under control,” Prime Minister Trudeau said. “After discussing with cabinet and caucus after consultation with Premier from all provinces and territories, after speaking with opposition leaders, the federal government has invoked the emergencies act to supplement provincial and territorial capacity to address the blockades and occupations.”

It grants cabinet the ability to “take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times” to cope with an “urgent and critical situation” and the resulting fallout. It is still subject to the protections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Emergencies Act is divided into four types of emergencies: public welfare, public order, international and war.

Under the Act, Trudeau has the power to prohibit public assembly.

However, the Act prohibits the federal government from assuming control of any police force that normally falls under the jurisdiction of a municipality or province.

In other words, Trudeau could not enact martial law.

Sign in Ottawa. Facebook

“The Emergencies Act will be used to strengthen and support law enforcement agencies at all levels across the country,” Prime Minister Trudeau said. “This is about keeping Canadians safe, protecting people’s jobs and restoring confidence in our institutions. Here’s how the measures we’re taking today will help get the situation under control. The police will be given more tools to restore order in places where public assemblies can constitute illegal and dangerous activities such as blockades and occupations as seen in Ottawa, Ambassador Bridge and elsewhere.”

Prime Minister Trudeau said, “These tools include strengthening their ability to impose fines or imprisonment. The government will designate secure and protect places and infrastructure that are critical to our economy and people’s jobs, including border crossings and airports. We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue.”

Counter protestors in Ottawa tell the freedom convoy to go home. Facebook

“The emergencies act will also allow the government to make sure essential services are rendered, for example, in order to tow vehicles blocking roads,” Prime Minister Trudeau said. “In addition, financial institutions will be authorized or directed to render essential services to help address the situation including by regulating and prohibiting the use of property to fund or support illegal blockades.”

A public order emergency in particular grants five kinds of powers to the federal cabinet:

  • the ability to “regulate or prohibit public assembly that may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of the peace, travel, or the use of property”
  • the ability to “designate and secure protected places”
  • the ability to “assume the control, restoration and maintenance of public utilities and services”
  • the ability to “authorize or direct the provision of essential services and the provision of reasonable compensation”
  • the ability to “impose on summary conviction a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both, or on indictment, a fine not exceeding $5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both, for any breach of an order or regulation”

The Emergencies Act has never been invoked.

Once invoked, the public order emergency provisions expire after 30 days.

“Let me be equally clear. What it does not do. We’re not using the Emergencies Act to call in the military, not suspending fundamental rights or overriding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are not limiting people’s freedom of speech,” Prime Minister Trudeau said. “We are not limiting the freedom of peaceful assembly. We are not preventing people from exercising their right to protest legally.”

About Arthur C. Green

Arthur C. Green is an award winning journalist and is from Whitbourne Newfoundland. Green graduated from the CNA Journalism Program. Arthur also studied Business Marketing and Political Science at Memorial University in Essex England and St. John's Newfoundland. Green has worked for such organizations as CBC, CBC Radio, NTV, Saltwire, Great West Media, CKLB Radio, River Radio, Vista Radio, and Postmedia. He also loves Jiggs Dinner and can fillet a Codfish.