Canadian PM declares end of 10-day state of emergency

OTTAWA, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday declared an end to the state of emergency invoked on Feb. 14.

At a press conference, Trudeau made the announcement to end the use of the Emergencies Act, which was approved by the House of Commons.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (File photo: AFP)

"Immediate emergency situation is over," said Trudeau, stressing that the decision was made after careful consideration.

Trudeau said within 60 days a joint committee of Parliamentarians will review the declaration of emergency and that there will be an inquiry into the circumstances that led to the Emergencies Act being invoked.

"It will look at how we got there, and why it was required, it could look at policing. The inquiry could also examine the funding influence and disinformation that supported the illegal blockades and occupations, both foreign and domestic," he said.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is also Canada's deputy prime minister, said that the process of unfreezing accounts of those took part in the occupation and the illegal blockades has already begun.

"I would just like to stress that there are bank accounts that will remain frozen, but not because of the emergency measures. There will be other orders, court orders and others. And because of these orders, the bank accounts may be frozen," she said.

Last week, under the Emergencies Act, Canada's banks and financial institutions were ordered to cease conducting business with anyone who was "directly or indirectly" associated with the protests, including the freezing of bank accounts.

However, one emergency provision, which compels crowdfunding platforms and payment providers to register with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada -- the government's financial intelligence unit -- will be subject to "measures" to keep them "permanently in place," Freeland said.

On Feb. 14, Canada's House of Commons voted to pass the federal government's use of the Emergencies Act in response to the truckers' convoy blockades in Ottawa and at border crossings.

The 185-151 vote was made on a motion put forward by the Liberal government that outlined its decision to invoke the never-before-used emergency powers after weeks-long demonstrations dubbed the "Freedom Convoy 2022."

Since late January, Canadian truck drivers had been rallying against the government's COVID-19 vaccine mandates, as the truckers were requested to be fully vaccinated for crossing the border into the United States. After being joined by thousands of pedestrian protesters, the rally turned into demonstrations against the government's overall restrictive measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an official statement published on Wednesday, the federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) promised to remain committed to working with law enforcement partners to ensure safety and security.

"Today, the declaration of a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act was revoked," said the RCMP, "The revocation of the public order emergency takes nothing away from our resolve to effectively enforce the law and keep communities safe."

The provincial government of Ontario also announced the end of the state of emergency which was invoked in respond to the convoy protests and border crossing blockades on Feb. 11, three days before the federal one, or nearly two weeks after the Ottawa protest began.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared the emergency and pledged at the time to enact orders that would fine people up to 100,000 Canadian dollars (78,528 U.S. dollars) for blocking critical infrastructures.

His office said in a statement that in alignment with the federal government, the state of emergency of the province has been lifted, confirming that the emergency tools given to police "will be maintained" as they continue to "address ongoing activity on the ground."

"We remain grateful to all frontline officers and first responders that contributed to peacefully resolving the situation in Ottawa, Windsor and in other parts of the province," the statement said.

The provincial government of Ontario is also expected to lift the state of emergency soon.