Suspension for Enactment
by Collin Wynter
Speaker of the House for the Canadian federal Parliament, Anthony Rota, suspended the sitting of parliamentarians on Friday, February 18 due to the operation of removing the “Freedom Convoy” protestors from Ottawa beginning. He cited “exceptional circumstances” and that “safety is paramount” for the politicians and staff, as justification to essentially stop the debate on whether the Trudeau Liberals should be allowed to use the overreaching powers of the Emergency Act. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Act on Monday the 14th and is allotted seven days to achieve approval. In this [select your choice of dystopian metaphor] twist of reality, the government essentially has seven days to direct law enforcement to proceed under a policy not yet confirmed by the House or Senate.
The Emergency Act, which includes a provision protecting protests, is designed to guard against the event of an insurrection or other such sorts of existential threats. It has only been used before under its previous iteration, theWar Measures Act. It is clear then, as to why the Trudeau Liberals and subsidized media have been regurgitating a propaganda narrative for several weeks, painting the protestors as “antisemitic, Islamophobic, racist, homophobic, & transphobic”; calling the Ottawa protest an “illegal occupation”; while labelling the border blockades as “illegal” protests. Some argument could be made that the supply chain needs to be protected, and thus, the border should be opened. Interestingly, the vast majority of border crossing were ameliorated, or were in the process to be, when Trudeau announcement of the Act.
Due to Trudeau’s absence from the public sphere, to claims of having been in contact his child who tested positive for covid-19, a query began floating in the media: Where is Trudeau? As with anything that is in short supply, demand increases; so, once it is made available, everybody clamours for it. Perhaps, this is the reason why the sociological perception of the Emergency Act appears to be so well received. Deny any conflict resolution for the situation at hand, then as the crisis worsens, provide extreme legislation which the public will take to be deemed necessary. This was helped along by the repeated claims of being the “last resort”; as if they had exhausted all other avenues at reconciliation. It should be noted, that Trudeau never met with any protestor. In fact, he stated that he would “not to go anywhere near protests that have expressed hateful rhetoric, violence towards fellow citizens, and a disrespect.” He juxtaposed that statement with his genuflected attendance at a BLM protest. To Trudeau, only certain types of protests should be allowed.
The Conservative Party of Canada and the Bloc Québécois are opposing the Emergency Act. Candice Bergen, interim leader for the CPC, stated that Trudeau has “failed to meet the high threshold set out by the emergencies act.” While Yves-F. Blanchet, leader of the BQ, believes “[Trudeau] wants to quash the identity of a nation, he wants to talk about a post national state”.
Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party which built its base and reputation from democratic socialist roots, meant to defend the working man, has been on the fence, stating that they would support it- and then that they wouldn’t, in case of overreach. On February 17th, he once again said that he would be “supporting these measures,” but called for leadership over using this crisis as a political points scoring game. A spokesperson for the party said all members of the NDP would be supporting the motion. This would provide the Liberals with the necessary votes to pass the legislation if all of their caucus votes in favour.
In an attempt to influence the NDP, Bergen reminded them of Tommy Douglas, former leader of the NDP, calling Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s use of the War Measures Act to deal with the October crisis as “sledgehammer to crack a peanut.”
Considering Canada is a federal and provincially run country, premiers of provinces have influence in matters of policy and regulation. Four premieres have spoken out against the use of the Emergency Act with its wide swath of powers: Scott Moe (Saskatchewan), Jason Kenney (Alberta), Heather Stefanson (Manitoba), François Legault (Quebec). Moe and Kenney even signed a letter with 16 other American governors demanding Trudeau and President Biden end the vaccine mandate for truckers. Stefanson, on the other hand, has been found out to have sent a request to Trudeau, prior to the invocation of the emergency act, for assistance with the blockade at the Emerson border crossing in Manitoba.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has announced that they will be taking the government of Canada to court for the invocation of the Emergency Act. They believe the response to the protest is “unprecedented and seriously infringes the charter rights of Canadians.” They consider this to be an “extreme measure that should be reserved for national emergencies.” The “legal standard has not been met.” [emphasis added] This use of the Act “cannot and must not be normalized.” This has never occurred with any other protest in Canadian history, including those that in which illegal acts occurred. Allowing this overreaching power to by-pass regular democratic processes is a dangerous precedent. Protests are meant for citizens to be able to oppose government polices. They can be “peaceful” and “disruptive” to covey their message. This is not mutually exclusive.
Brian Peckford, former premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, agrees that the enactment of the Emergency Act is an overreach. In fact, he is suing the government for the federal covid 19 restrictions in relation to how they impinge upon his rights as a citizen. Peckford was one of the original crafters of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. He believes the government has not demonstrably shown evidence for the policies they have implemented. In a recent speech at the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, he noted an epiphany:
“I didn’t realize until recently that we’re always only—even in the best of times—a heartbeat away from tyranny, that democracy is one of the most fragile concepts in the world.”