Canada House OKs Emergencies Act
China Daily

The Canada House of Commons has passed the Emergencies Act motion in response to the "Freedom Convoy" protests by truckers.

Police keep watch as demonstrators participating in a protest organized by truck drivers opposing vaccine mandates continue to gather on the streets after the main demonstration was broken up earlier in the day on Feb 19, 2022 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had invoked the Emergencies Act in an attempt to put an end to the demonstration that has nearly paralyzed a portion of downtown Ottawa for 23 days. (Photo: Agencies)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act last week in a bid to end blockades in Ottawa and some border crossings amid nationwide protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

The motion to confirm the declaration of emergency powers passed by a vote of 185-151 on Monday, with the New Democrats joining the ruling minority Liberal Party in supporting it. The Conservatives and Bloc Québéco opposed the declaration.

Interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen questioned the criteria for an emergency to be declared and asked the House when the "unprecedented and invasive measures" would end. She said the Tories would continue to fight the prime minister's "power grab", and the party tabled a motion to revoke the powers.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said instead of providing Ottawa police with additional officers to remove the protesters, the government didn't need to invoke the Emergencies Act.

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, who is seeking the party's leadership, accused that the Trudeau government to scheme the crisis for political gain.

As the House prepared to vote on the state of emergency, Trudeau "strongly implied" he would consider the matter "a vote of confidence" in his government, the Globe and Mail reported.

Some Liberals also questioned the necessity of invoking the act. But once the government had decided to make it a "confidence vote", if it failed, the Liberal government could have fallen, which would have triggered an election, according to the Canadian Press.

Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who voted in favor of the motion, said he might have voted against continuing to use the act being that the blockades had ended, but he voted yes because he did not want to see an election.

Another Liberal MP Joel Lightbound, who supported the motion, said invoking the act was "a slippery slope". He said he would be inclined to vote against the measures if it were not "a vote of confidence".

Conservative MP Dan Albas argued that the use of the act "would further divide Canadians". Another Conservative MP, Dave Epp, accused the prime minister of using "the politics of division rather than cooperation and understanding".

Liberal Peter Schiefke, who criticized what he called "frequent, unabated displays of hatred" during the protests, including swastikas, said American financial backing for the protests had some links to supporters of the Jan 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol in Washington DC. Schiefke did not provide specifics on the financing.

"After weeks of dangerous and unlawful activities … it became clear that local and provincial authorities needed more tools to restore order and keep people safe," Trudeau said at a news conference Monday.

Meanwhile, Tamara Lich, one of the leading organizers behind the protests near Parliament Hill, was denied bail on Tuesday, The Canadian Press reported.

"I cannot be reassured that if I release you into the community that you will not reoffend," Ontario Court Justice Julie Bourgeois said in addressing Lich. "Your detention is necessary for the protection and safety of the public."

The vote to approve the emergency measures will keep them in place until mid-March at the latest. The Canadian Senate, however, also must vote on the use of the act, but debate has not yet started in that chamber.