Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that he is invoking the never-before-used Emergencies Act to give the federal government extra powers to crush the anti-vaccine mandate Freedom Convoys.
The Emergencies Act gives the Trudeau government the extraordinary powers for 30 days, including the power to prohibit public assemblies, travel and “the use of specific property.”
During a press conference, the deputy prime minister unveiled plans to expand Canada’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules so that they cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use.
According to Section 8 of the Emergencies Act, Trudeau will be given the authority to take any of the following measures to crush dissent in Canada.
(a) the regulation or prohibition of travel to, from or within any specified area, where necessary for the protection of the health or safety of individuals;
(b) the evacuation of persons and the removal of personal property from any specified area and the making of arrangements for the adequate care and protection of the persons and property;
(c) the requisition, use or disposition of property;
(d) the authorization of or direction to any person, or any person of a class of persons, to render essential services of a type that that person, or a person of that class, is competent to provide and the provision of reasonable compensation in respect of services so rendered;
(e) the regulation of the distribution and availability of essential goods, services and resources;
(f) the authorization and making of emergency payments;
(h) the assessment of damage to any works or undertakings and the repair, replacement or restoration thereof;
(i) the assessment of damage to the environment and the elimination or alleviation of the damage; and
(j) the imposition
(i) on summary conviction, of a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both that fine and imprisonment, or
(ii) on indictment, of a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars or imprisonment not exceeding five years or both that fine and imprisonment, for contravention of any order or regulation made under this section.
The Emergencies Act replaced the War Measures Act in the 1980s, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). It 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.”
During a news conference Monday afternoon announcing his decision, Trudeau said that “the illegal blockades have been disrupting the lives of too many Canadians,” and accused the peaceful, family-friendly demonstrators of “harassing people and breaking the law.”
“This is not a peaceful protest,” he declared.
Trudeau said “the federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act to supplement provincial and territorial capacity to address the blockades and occupations.”
The Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit was reopened Sunday night, ending the truckers’ six-day blockade. Canadian police cleared out the protesters and made 20-30 arrests, according to Reuters.
The PM promised that the “scope of these measures” would be “time limited, geographically targeted, as well as reasonable and proportionate to the threats they are meant to address.”
Specifically, Trudeau said law enforcement will be given additional tools to put down the protests, including imposing fines and imprisoning dissenters.
“We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue,” he intoned.
The PM added that “financial institutions will be authorized or directed to render essential services to help address the situation including by regulating or prohibiting the use of property or funds to support illegal blockades.”
“Finally, it will enable the RMCP to enforce municipal bylaws and provincial defenses where required,” he said.
Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister, said that, as part of the Emergencies Act, they will broaden Canada’s “terrorist financing” rules to cover crowdfunding platforms and cryptocurrencies to the Canadian Freedom Convoy. She said the government will authorize financial institutions to cease providing financial services to anyone supporting the blockades, “where the institution suspects an account is being used to further the illegal blockades and occupations.”
Chrystia Freeland announces that the government of Canada gives full authorization to financial institutions "to temporarily cease providing financial services" and "review their relationships with anyone involved in the blockade."
— Mauricio (@_m2pacheco) February 14, 2022
It was never free. https://t.co/6ScsLNmEOX
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) February 14, 2022
Freedom Convoy organizer Tamara Lich said during a press conference Monday that the protesters were not intimidated by Trudeau’s threats.
“We are not afraid. In fact, every time the government decides to further suspend our civil liberties, our resolve strengthens, and the importance of our mission becomes clearer,” she said.
“We will remain peaceful, and planted on Parliament Hill until the mandates are decisively ended,” Lich added. “All Canadians should be surprised—no matter your political opinions— that such an extreme measure could be used against a peaceful demonstration.
Lich argued that if the Trudeau government follows through with its threat, it will be revealed as a true tyranny, and lose all credibility, and expressed hope that members of law enforcement agencies and the military will listen to their conscience and remember that “I’m just following orders” has “always been the excuse by those who ignore their moral intuition.”