Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act to empower law enforcement the means to deal with the Freedom Convoy protesters in Ottawa and around various border crossings across Canada.
Speaking to the press, Trudeau said he will activate the never-before-used emergency powers to end the protests that have paralyzed parts of the nation’s capital city.
“The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety,” Trudeau told a news conference. “We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue.”
His move comes following frustration with the provincial government’s seeming inaction against the protesters who descended on the city some two weeks ago to protest pandemic mandates and restrictions. Notably, cross-country truck drivers who first initiated the protest to oppose the government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate saw many joining their cause — even internationally — to protest increasingly authoritarian, and seemingly endless, restrictions.
In Windsor, Ontario, protesters blockaded the Ambassador Bridge, a major commercial artery into the United States, for six days before police cleared the protest Sunday.
Throughout his speech, Trudeau reiterated the “temporary” nature of the emergency powers, which must be reviewed after 30 days.
“Despite their best efforts, it is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement's ability to effectively enforce the law,” Trudeau said.
Under the Emergencies Act, which replaced the previous War Measures Act, the federal government can override the provinces and authorize special measures to ensure security during national emergencies.
The law was only used once before in its previous iteration in 1970 by Trudeau’s father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, during the October Crisis.
Four provincial premiers – in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Alberta — have voiced opposition to the plans to invoke the act, calling it unnecessary.