Date: 16 February 2022
For the second time in Canadian history, emergency powers have been invoked in peacetime. On Monday, i.e., 14 February 2022, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau invoked rarely used emergency powers to quell the paralyzing protests by truckers and others angry over Canada’s Covid-19 restrictions.
“The federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act to supplement provincial and territorial capacity to address the blockades and occupations,” Mr. Trudeau told a news conference. The Prime Minister said the military would not be deployed at this stage, but that authorities would be granted more powers to arrest protesters and seize their trucks in order to clear blockades, as well as ban funding of the protests. As the threat of violence lingered, federal police said they arrested 11 protesters with rifles, handguns, body armour and ammunition at the border.
For more than two weeks, hundreds and sometimes thousands of protesters in trucks and other vehicles have clogged the streets of Ottawa, the capital, and besieged Parliament Hill, railing against vaccine mandates for truckers and other Covid-19 precautions and condemning Trudeau’s Liberal government. Members of the self-styled Freedom Convoy have also blockaded various US-Canadian border crossings.
Prime Minister shared plans to tow away vehicles to keep essential services running; freeze truckers’ personal and corporate bank accounts; and suspend the insurance on their rigs. “These blockades are illegal, and if you are still participating, the time to go home is now,” he declared. In invoking Canada’s Emergencies Act, which gives the federal government broad powers to restore order, Trudeau ruled out using the military.
Trudeau did not indicate when the new crackdown would begin. But he gave assurances the emergency measures “will be time-limited, geographically targeted, as well as reasonable and proportionate to the threats they are meant to address.”
The protests have drawn support from right-wing extremists and armed citizens in Canada, and have been cheered on in the US by Fox News personalities and conservatives such as Donald Trump. Some conservatives pushed Trudeau to simply drop the pandemic mandates.
The prime minister met virtually with the leaders of Canada’s provinces and planned to address the nation late in the afternoon.