Trudeau defends use of emergency law during Freedom Convoy protests

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his decision to invoke the Emergencies Act in response to the Freedom Convoy trucker protests earlier this year.

Trudeau appeared before the Public Order Emergency Commission on Friday to testify as part of a legal challenge to his Emergencies Act decision, CBC News reported. While lawyers arguing against the prime minister’s decision said law enforcement had formulated a plan to clear protesters in downtown Ottawa, Trudeau claimed the plan they put together was “not a plan at all.”

“We’ve heard over and over again that there’s a plan,” Trudeau said during his testimony. “I would recommend people to take a look at this actual plan, which wasn’t a plan at all … It wasn’t a plan even in the most generous characterizations of how they were going to end the cast.”

justin trudeau emergencies act defense
Above, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a news conference in 2019. Trudeau on Friday defended his February decision to invoke the emergency law in response to widespread trucker protests in the country.
Dave Chan/Getty Images

Previous hearings have alleged that the Ottawa Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police are working together to create an action plan to eliminate protesters. Trudeau countered that narrative, explaining that the planning document he heard about at the time focused on “using liaison officers to reduce the footprint of the protest,” according to the CBC, with enforcement details “to be determined later.”

The goal of the Public Order Emergency Commission will be to determine whether or not law enforcement could have dealt with the protesters and whether the appeal to Trudeau was really a last-ditch measure. Trudeau had previously appointed Ontario Judge Paul Rouleau to chair the commission, and he is required by law to submit a report to both houses of Canada’s Parliament by February 20, 2023 on the matter.

The Emergencies Act was passed by Parliament in 1988 and allows the Canadian government to take extraordinary measures in response to national emergencies that go beyond the scope of current law. Trudeau’s appeal of the law on February 14 was the first time since it was passed.

It gave the Canadian government the ability to target protesters’ finances, impose lockdown zones in vital areas and force towing companies to clear away vehicles. Law enforcement has also been given additional resources by the law.

The law was in place for just over a week, and Trudeau officially rescinded it on February 23, stating that the emergency powers were no longer needed.

“The situation is no longer an emergency; therefore, the federal government will end the application of the emergency law,” Trudeau said at a news conference at the time. “We are confident that the existing laws and regulations are sufficient to keep people safe.”

news week contacted Trudeau’s office for comment. Trudeau defends use of emergency law during Freedom Convoy protests

Rick Schindler

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