Ottawa files appeal against Emergencies Act ruling

On February 14, 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau permitted the freezing of bank accounts, detainment of protesters, and mobilization of police to end the 2022 Freedom Convoy. A Federal Court ruling called it 'unconstitutional,' with the feds filing to appeal the decision.

Ottawa files appeal against Emergencies Act ruling
The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
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The Trudeau Liberals are urging the Federal Court of Appeal to rescind a January decision that ruled their use of martial law as a Charter rights infringement.

Ottawa has filed an appeal against a Federal Court ruling that condemned the invocation of the Emergencies Act for deterring protests against draconian COVID mandates.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau controversially invoked the Act on February 14, 2022, granting Cabinet extra-judicial powers to freeze bank accounts, detain protestors and mobilize troops on Canadian soil.

"They froze my clients' bank accounts, they canceled their debit cards, they blocked them from getting access to cash," said Keith Wilson, lawyer for 11 Freedom Convoy protesters, who are suing the feds for their illegal use of 'war measures' to squash peaceful protest. Convoy supporters had 267 bank accounts and 170 bitcoin wallets temporarily seized with an estimated $7.8 million in holdings.

Civil rights lawyers successfully argued it usurped their clients' freedom of expression and exposed them to unreasonable search and seizure. "The Emergencies Act is an Act of last resort," contends Ewa Krajewska, counsel with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA). "It should not be invoked for convenience or expediency."

But government lawyers contend the Federal Court ruled “with the benefit of hindsight” and based on information not available to the feds in 2022, reported CTV News.

They said the court should have considered the reasonableness of the government’s declaration of a public order emergency and whether it required special temporary measures in response to the protests.

The Federal Court decision differed from the findings of the Public Order Emergency Commission. It concluded that Trudeau and his Cabinet met the legal threshold for using the emergency law, though it bears no legal standing.

Wilson told Rebel News his clients had no prior warning their bank accounts would be frozen.

"The plaintiffs have five children and four grandchildren they could not care for ... [of whom one had] a severe genetic based heart issue ... [that] needed on an emergency basis to get a prescription filled," said Wilson. "The idea of collective punishment is not a concept in Canadian law — it's not a concept in Western law," he added. "That's a barbaric form of punishment."

"They completely isolated them from society and put them in an incredibly precarious position that resulted in a run on the banks and international condemnation of the tyrannical behavior of the Trudeau government." 

At the time, then-justice minister David Lametti claimed the Emergencies Act was a "proportionate measure to restore order" against the "illegal blockades and occupations [that] threaten the safety of Canadians."

Contrary to that narrative,  subsequent review found that all the Convoy arrests appeared to be for "minor offences," except for several made in Coutts, Alberta. And Justice Centre lawyer Hatim Kheir confirmed the blockades in Coutts and Windsor immediately cleared upon learning weapons had been present — before the Act had been invoked.

However, no evidence suggested that more tailored restrictions on protests would not have had the desired outcome. Still, Lametti stood by the temporary measures, claiming they were sanctioned by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"I want to be crystal clear," said Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, CCLA executive director. "We will fight them tooth and nail at the Federal Court of Appeal. We will defend our historic victory for rights."

"All future governments need to know even in times of crisis, especially … when emotions are running high," she added. "No government is above the law."

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