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Tags: Canada | Truck Protests

Judge: Canada Right to Invoke Emergency Act in Truck Protest

Judge: Canada Right to Invoke Emergency Act in Truck Protest

Friday, 17 February 2023 03:00 PM EST

TORONTO (AP) — A public commission announced Friday that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government met the “very high threshold” for invoking the Emergencies Act to quell the protests by truckers and others angry over Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions last winter.

For weeks, hundreds and sometimes thousands of protesters in trucks and other vehicles clogged the streets of Ottawa, the capital, and besieged Parliament Hill, railing against vaccine mandates for truckers and other COVID-19 precautions and condemning Trudeau’s Liberal government.

Members of the self-styled Freedom Convoy also blockaded various U.S.-Canadian border crossings. And police arrested 11 people at the blockaded border crossing at Coutts, Alberta, opposite Montana, after learning of a cache of guns and ammunition.

Justice Paul Rouleau concludes most of the emergency measures were appropriate. He said he does not accept the testimony of protest organizers who described the demonstrations as lawful and peaceful.

"Cabinet had reasonable grounds to believe that their existed a national emergency arising from threats to the security of Canada that necessitated the taking of special temporary measures,” Rouleau said.

“The measures taken by the federal government were for the most part appropriate and effective and contributed to bringing a return to order without loss of life or serious injury to people or property.”

The Public Emergency Commission examined the basis for the decision to declare the public order emergency, the circumstances that led to it and the the appropriateness and effectiveness of the measures. Trudeau, Cabinet ministers, protesters and others testified last fall.

The emergencies act allowed authorities to declare certain areas as no-go zones. It also allowed police to freeze truckers’ personal and corporate bank accounts and compel tow truck companies to haul away vehicles.

Rouleau said there was a failure to provide a clear way for those people who had assets frozen to have them unfrozen when they were no longer engaged in illegal conduct. But he concluded that freezing assets was appropriate to prevent the protests from being financially sustained over the long term.

“The threshold for invocation is the point at which order breaks down and freedom cannot be secured or is seriously threatened. In my view, that threshold was reached here,” he writes.

The trucker protest grew until it closed a handful of Canada-U.S. border posts and shut down key parts of the capital for more than three weeks. The border blockades eventually ended and the streets around the Canadian Parliament were cleared after authorities launched the largest police operation in Canadian history.

The protests, which were first aimed at a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers but also encompassed fury over the range of COVID-19 restrictions and dislike of Trudeau, reflected the spread of disinformation in Canada and simmering populist and right-wing anger.

The self-styled Freedom Convoy shook Canada’s reputation for civility, inspired convoys in France, New Zealand and the Netherlands and interrupted trade, causing economic damage on both sides of the border. Hundreds of trucks eventually occupied the streets around Parliament, a display that was part protest and part carnival.

For almost a week the busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing, the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, was blocked. The crossing sees more than 25% of the trade between the two countries.

Rouleau said a series of police failures contributed to a “situation that spun out of control.” He said governments and police forces should have better anticipated it, especially in an environment where misinformation and disinformation is so prevalent today.

“It’s likely that such information could have prevented the necessity of invoking the emergencies act,” he said.

The 2,000-page report calls the “Freedom Convoy” a “singular moment in history” exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as online misinformation and disinformation.

© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

- A public commission announced Friday that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government met the "very high threshold" for invoking the Emergencies Act to quell the protests by truckers and others angry over Canada's COVID-19 restrictions last winter. For weeks,...
Canada,Truck Protests
Friday, 17 February 2023 03:00 PM
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