By Noe Chartier of the Epoch Times
During the first question period after invoking the Emergencies Act for the first time on Feb. 14, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked by the Tories when this extreme measure would be debated in the House of Commons.
“Twenty-four hours in and there are more questions than answers—questions about whether this is justified, questions around if the criteria is met, questions around what this means to Canadians’ rights and freedoms. Parliamentary approval is required in order for the prime minister to use this unprecedented sledgehammer,” said interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen.
Opponents of the Emergencies Act’s use, such as civil liberties and constitutional rights groups, say the current situation does not meet the threshold for its implementation, and so debates in the House of Commons could help to flesh out the government’s narrative for invoking it.
“So can the prime minister tell us when will Parliament be debating this? Will it be coming to us on Friday? And does he expect that we will look at it Friday but then rise, take a week off, and not actually deal with this until March?” Bergen said.
Trudeau did not answer directly, saying that before invoking the Act he consulted with his cabinet, his caucus, the premiers, and the opposition leaders.
“The scope of these measures are time-limited and geographically-targeted. They are reasonable and proportionate to the threats they’re meant to address. And they are fully to be compliant with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to reassure all Canadians that this is the right thing to move forward,” Trudeau said.
Bergen questioned if invoking the Act would instead make things worse, now that the blockades of Coutts in Alberta and the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., are cleared.
She also referred to her recent motion calling for a plan to end federal mandates that was defeated by the Liberals and NDP on Feb. 14, asking Trudeau when he would “end the divisive, outdated, and unscientific mandates and restrictions.”
In response, Trudeau accused Tories of playing “crass political games and divide.”
The cross-country movement of protests was started by truck drivers asking for the lifting of COVID-19 vaccination requirement for drivers crossing the U.S.-Canada border. As more supporters joined the movement, many are now asking for an end to all COVID-19 mandates and restrictions. Many protesters are saying they will remain in Ottawa until the government lifts the mandates.
Trudeau has refused to meet with protesters and hear their concerns, while linking them with racism and hatred, a charge the protest organizers deny, saying they are peaceful.
Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14 for the first time since it replaced the War Measures Act in 1988.
The government is required to table its declaration in the Parliament within seven days, and a parliamentary committee will oversee the issue while the emergency is in effect, officials speaking on background said at a press conference on Feb. 15.
With emergency powers, the federal government will be able to compel towing companies to help remove the trucks blocking the streets of Ottawa, and also crack down on financing by allowing banks to freeze the accounts of the protesters and supporters. Fines and prison sentences will also be easier to hand out to participants under the Act.
The premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec are opposed to the federal government’s move to invoke the Act.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec have either ended their vaccine passport programs, or intend to end them in the near future.