The Freedom Convoy in Ottawa has been cleared after a two-day use of force operation conducted by police on February 18–19 on the order of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Invoking the Emergencies Act on February 14, Prime Minister Trudeau faced criticism from various civil liberties groups and constitutional experts. Seven days later, on February 21, the Act passed in the House of Commons by a vote of 185-151, backed by Liberal and New Democratic Party MPs; the Green Party, which has two seats in the House, had one vote supporting and one vote against the decision.
Trudeau and his cabinet motioned that a vote against the Emergencies Act invocation would be one of non-confidence, thus effectively strong-arming his allies into a favourable vote.
Now, the Emergencies Act must go through further scrutiny from the next branch of Canadian Parliament — the senate.
Senators began the debate at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, February 22 and will continue until 9 p.m. until Friday, February 25 if necessary.
The purpose of the senate debate is to review evidence used by cabinet to justify invoking these unprecedented powers. Namely, the arresting of truckers, seizing of vehicles and freezing of bank accounts without a warrant, charge, or any sort of legal due process.
Despite the only reason for the continued emergency being entirely speculative, it looks like the evidence used to justify the continuation of these far-reaching measures will be kept secret.
“Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino referred to matters within his knowledge which could not be shared,” said Senator Dennis Patterson before asking, “Will the review committee have access to unredacted security information required to do its job?”
“That’s a very good question,” replied Senator Gold. “The short answer is no.”
The blockade ended on February 20, after 24 days of protest. More than 191 arrests, 79 vehicle seizures, 389 charges have been made, along with at least 76 bank accounts frozen in an exceptional effort to dissipate support for the convoy.
Despite this prolonged demonstration in Ottawa, Senator Scott Tannas noted there were no deaths or major injuries, no significant property damage, violence or gunplay. That did not stop Ottawa police, who are now under investigation by Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, from deploying anti-riot weapons and using force to clear the demonstration.