Canada implements controversial Emergencies Act

Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party, has been Canadas prime minister since November 2015.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party, has been Canada’s prime minister since November 2015.

Al Curle, Staff Writer

Trucks blaring, deafening horns, and violent protests, these words can describe the trucker protests in Canada during the past few weeks. The truckers have wreaked havoc on the Canadian capital of Ottawa and the economy.

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, just recently implemented the controversial Emergencies Act in response to the recent trucker protests. “We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue,” Trudeau said in a press conference recorded by CTV News. The act he is signing gives the federal Canadian government special powers to ensure security in the face of a national emergency. 

Trudeau is using the act to freeze protesters’ bank accounts for their participation in the protests. “The way to get your account unfrozen is to stop being a part of the blockade,” said Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland in the same conference. This has raised eyebrows as to the constitutionality of this action. 

“Unnecessary, unjustifiable, and unconstitutional,” the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said, in the CTV release, echoing concerns as to the constitutionality of the invocation of the Emergencies Act. These words resonate thoroughly throughout the opposition to the act with many questioning whether or not the act is even necessary to quell the disruptive protests.

During the same press conference Trudeau took questions personally. “Do we still need the Emergencies Act when the blockades have been cleared?” one reporter asked during the CTV conference, to which Trudeau gave an answer that seemed to dodge the question. Trudeau repeated talking points about how the Emergencies Act is, “Not to be taken lightly” whilst saying nothing to the status of the clearing of truckers.

For Americans, memories of the Patriot Act or, for many young people, memories of growing up in the wake of the Patriot Act may be coming to mind. “If you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about” seems eerily familiar to Trudeau’s rationale of, “The way to get your account unfrozen is to stop being a part of the blockade.”

The evergreen controversy of the Patriot Act seems to be a precursor to this invocation of the Emergencies Act- an act which has galvanized the Canadian populus in much the same way that its predecessor is infamous for.

Questions of civil liberties and governmental power are likely to be on the lips of many a Canadian in the coming times. These questions of whether or not the government should be trusted to have these powers are no more acutely present than Trudeau’s words in the press conference on those who vote no to approving the act. “[It should not be mistaken that] those who vote no are doing anything other than indicating that they do not trust the government to make incredibly momentous and important decisions,” stated Trudeau in the press conference.