Canadians’ constitutional privileges, outlined under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, now seem a little hollow. Days ago, the Trudeau Liberal /NDP coalition, voted to confirm the invocation of the Emergencies Act. This move recklessly jeopardizes our fundamental freedoms of thought, belief, opinion, expression, and peaceful assembly.
This legislation, previously known as the War Measurers Act, has only been invoked three times in Canadian history: during World War I and World War II, and the 1970 FLQ Crisis, all times of a real national crisis. Since being rebranded as the Emergencies Act in 1988, which added parliamentary oversight and recognition of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it has never been implemented.
Former government leaders have never deemed the Emergencies Act was warranted even during the 78-day OKA crisis in 1990, or the years-long Caledonia land dispute, or the Wet’suwet’en conflict that disrupted Canada’s rail system for weeks in 2020, and not even the 9/11 terrorist shutdown of North America skies. Not until now has Canada had a prime minister willing to invoke the Emergencies Act, without meeting the onerous and necessary national security threat threshold.
Remember, the Freedom Convoy began as a response to vaccine mandates being imposed on the essential trucking industry, without evidence to support any increased health risks. Rather than hearing the concerns of those impacted, Trudeau and his ministers referred to them in the most derogatory of terms: science deniers,
anti-vaxers, misogynists, extremists, racists, and those on the fringe.
Even when tens of thousands of mandate-lifting supporters came out in protest across the country – not just near Parliament Hill – Trudeau continued to spew his ideology and hatefully demeaned those with differing opinions. His lack of leadership, divisive tactics, and ability to inflame, twisted an inconvenient, yet peaceful protest in downtown Ottawa, into a perceived rebellion. It was that justification on which Trudeau imposed the Emergencies Act, the most extreme power in managing any national security crisis.
I support the right of people to peacefully protest. I have also publicly denounced unlawful behaviours and the blocking of trade routes and infrastructure hindering commerce, as misguided actions that hurt all Canadians. However, neither protests nor blockades, as recently witnessed, necessitates the restrictions, the freezing of bank accounts, and the incredible overreach of the Emergencies Act.
Trudeau’s failure to use negotiation or the authorities that already exist under Canadian law to disperse protestors, does not meet the threshold required to invoke the Act. Imposing such powers sets a dangerous precedent and is not how the leadership of a free and democratic nation should operate.
Legal practitioners, constitutional experts, and people across the country, including thousands of constituents in my riding who expressed their concerns directly via e-mail and phone calls, all agree that invoking the Emergencies Act is unjustified and unwanted. And yet again, based on the outcome of Monday evening’s parliamentary vote on the Emergencies Act, Trudeau and his minority government have refused to listen or hear the concerns of Canadians.
Glen Motz MP