On Day 23 of the Truckers for Freedom Convoy, Prime Minister Justin invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in history and Doug Ford announced that Ontario would be dropping its vaccine passport.
Today Trudeau made good on his threat Sunday night to invoke a never-before-used piece of federal legislation to declare a national emergency due to the trucker protests.
The Emergencies Act gives the federal government sweeping powers, including freezing the financial assets of any protester with a truck, criminalizing all monetary donations made to the convoy – including those in cryptocurrency – and expanding the ability of police to imprison protesters.
Trudeau announced the new powers at a press conference.
“The invoking of the Emergencies Act is never the first thing a government should do, or even the second,” he said. “The act is to be used sparingly and as a last resort.”
“Right now, the situation requires additional tools that are not held by any other federal, provincial or territorial law.”
“Today, in these circumstances, it is now clear that responsible leadership requires us to do this,” Trudeau said.
“These measures must be and will be compliant with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Indeed, the Emergencies Act was created in the late 80’s to flow from and uphold the Charter.”
Deputy Prime Minister Crystia Freeland also announced a series of sweeping financial laws that allow the government to cancel and freeze or suspend the assets of demonstrators involved in the protest without a court order.
Freeland also said that the government would be “broadening the scope” of the Terrorist Financing Act by regulating all crowdfunding platforms and cryptocurrency transactions.
The Canadian Constitution Foundation condemned Trudeau’s decision, saying that “(t)he government has set a dangerous precedent for the right to free assembly and protest, declaring the protests occurring in Ottawa and elsewhere across the country to be unlawful without any further explanation.”
Conservative MP and leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre spoke to the press before Trudeau’s announcement and shredded the prime minister’s handling of the pandemic.
“Now he’s dropping in the polls, (he’s) desperately trying to save his political career, and save face for himself,” Poilievre began.
“The solution is staring him in the face. All he has to do is listen to the experts, do what other countries are doing, and that is to eliminate these mandates and restrictions to let these protesters and these truckers go back to their jobs and their lives.”
Earlier in the day, Ontario premier Doug Ford announced that his province would be dropping the vaccine passport on March 1.
“Over the weekend, I received a recommendation from Dr. Moore on a plan to safely reopen our economy and remove Ontario’s vaccine passport system,” Ford said.
Asked about whether he would support Trudeau’s invoking of the Emergencies Act to clear the protesters from Ottawa and Windsor, Ford said he would support “any proposal the federal government has” to restore law and order.
Alberta premier Jason Kenney, Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe, Manitoba premier Heather Steffenson and Quebec premier Francois Legault all disapproved of Trudeau’s decision.
Moe said on Twitter that “Saskatchewan does not support the Trudeau government invoking the Emergencies Act. If the federal government does proceed with this measure, I would hope it would only be invoked in provinces that request it, as the legislation allows.”
Stefenson said, “(t)he proposal from the federal government to use the Emergencies Act is not helpful to the situation at the Emerson Border.”
Kenney wrote on Twitter, “(t)his morning I told Prime Minister Trudeau that Alberta’s Government is opposed to the invocation of the federal Emergencies Act. We have all of the legal tools and operational resources required to maintain order. The Act would add no relevant additional powers or resources.”
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh endorsed Trudeau invocation of the Emergencies Act.
True North will have reporters on the ground in Ottawa for the next dew days.
The GiveSendGo fundraiser for the Freedom Convoy remains offline after being hacked Sunday evening.
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