Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act for ‘illegal’ blockades

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has invoked the Emergencies Act to bring to an end antigovernme…

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has invoked the Emergencies Act to bring to an end antigovernment blockades he describes as illegal and not about peaceful protest.

Trudeau says the act will be used to protect critical infrastructure such as borders and airports from the blockades, and is creating time-limited powers that do not already exist.

That includes giving banks the power to suspend or freeze accounts of blockade supporters without a court order, and force crowdfunding platforms and cryptocurrencies to follow anti-money laundering and terrorist financing laws.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland also says companies with trucks involved in the illegal blockades will have their corporate bank accounts frozen, and their insurance suspended.

Not every premier is on board with the idea.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson all said Monday they do not think the added powers are needed in their provinces.

The protest by antigovernment demonstrators blockading city streets around Parliament Hill is now in its third week and has spread to several Canada-U.S. border crossings.

The Emergencies Act allows a government to invoke temporary measures, including barring people from gathering or travelling to certain locations, to protect national security, public order and public welfare.

It has never been used before. Trudeau consulted the premiers about using it in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly two years ago, but has said repeatedly it was not needed because the powers to address the pandemic were already in place.

The Emergencies Act replaced the War Measures Act in 1988 and is more limited in what it can do, including requiring parliamentary oversight. All measures invoked under the Emergencies Act must also comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The War Measures Act was used three times, including in both the First World War and Second World War, and during the FLQ crisis in Quebec in 1970.

On Monday, an Ontario judge granted an injunction to enforce noise and idling bylaws related to the ongoing anti-vaccine mandate protests in Ottawa.

City solicitor David White requested the injunction Friday, saying the protesters were flagrantly violating bylaws against relentless noise, idling of trucks, setting off fireworks, and open air fires.

The injunction, which does not have an end date, was designed to give the police and bylaw officers an extra tool to enforce city bylaws, lawyers acting for the city of Ottawa said Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2022.

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