Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in 50 years to give the federal government extra powers to handle ongoing truckers’ blockades and protests against the Covid-19 pandemic mandates.
At a news conference on Parliament Hill, Trudeau said, “It is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement’s ability to effectively enforce the law.”
Trudeau said the measures will be geographically targeted and “reasonable and proportionate to the threats they are meant to address.”
The unprecedented deployment of the Emergencies Act gives police more tools to restore order in places where public assemblies constitute illegal and dangerous activities, such as blockades and occupations, he said, reported CBC News. The government is also designating and securing critical areas such as border crossings and airports. Invoking the act will also allow the government to make sure that essential services — such as towing services to remove trucks — are rendered, said Trudeau.
The act also permits the federal government to direct financial institutions to render essential services to address the situation, and to prohibit the use of the property to fund or support illegal blockades, reported CBC News. Trudeau said the act also will enable the RCMP to enforce municipal bylaws and provincial offenses where required.
“This is about keeping Canadians safe, protecting people’s jobs, and restoring confidence in our institutions,” said Trudeau. The Emergencies Act, which replaced the War Measures Act in the 1980s, 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.”