Where is the imminent, national security threat to Canada that merits the continued application of the Emergencies Act, approved Monday night by the Trudeau government with the “reluctant” support of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, while the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois were opposed?
The extraordinary powers the act gives the government since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked it last Monday, will now be in effect for up to 30 days until mid-March, when it will expire, unless Parliament further extends it.
“Let’s be clear: there is no legal justification for using the Emergencies Act,” said Abby Deshman, director of criminal justice for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, following the 185-151 vote in favour of extending the Emergencies Act.
“The broad powers the government has granted to police curtail Charter rights across the country. This risk of abuse is high. The emergency declaration should be immediately revoked.”
The CCLA, already in Federal Court seeking a judicial review of Trudeau’s invocation of the Emergencies Act, outlined prior to Monday’s vote why it believes the prime minister’s decision to extend the law’s application is deeply flawed.
“The question that is relevant now … is not whether the government was justified in issuing a proclamation of emergency a week ago. It is whether that proclamation continues to be justified today. The clear answer, in our view, is no.
“The blockades that led the government to justify the invocation of the Emergencies Act are no longer in place.
“The blockades at the borders were cleared before the proclamation came into effect — without resort to the Emergencies Act … With the blockades falling, the government’s primary justification for invoking the Emergencies Act must fall, as well.
“Policing services in cities across the country, using proactive traffic control measures and other standard policing techniques, have been able to successfully manage protests without resort to the Emergencies Act.
“We have all watched the distressing events of the past few weeks in Ottawa. This included reports of racist and homophobic intimidation, as well as alleged criminal activities by some of the protestors.
“The situation needed to be addressed. The blockades in Ottawa have also now been cleared.”
Contrary to claims by the Trudeau government, the CCLA said, “the emergency orders that are currently in effect are not targeted. They are not limited to specific protests, or specific geographic locations. They are expansive emergency orders that … apply across the entire country. The orders are also broad in scope. They place unprecedented limits on peaceful assembly.
“They require financial institutions to turn over personal financial information to CSIS and the RCMP, and to freeze the bank accounts and cut off financial services provided to anyone who has attended, or who has provided assistance to those participating in a prohibited assembly –- all without judicial oversight.
“The federal government does not control how and when these laws are used.
“These legal powers have been placed in the hands of police officers across the country.
“As with all broad grants of power, the risk of abuse is significant … its use at this point in time clearly cannot be justified.
“The decision you make today will set a precedent for years — decades — to come …
“Regardless of your views on its use a week ago, its use at this point in time clearly cannot be justified.
“If you insist on bringing the motion to a vote, all elected representatives must be permitted to vote their conscience.”
Instead, the vote was along party lines.