On Monday, New Democrat MPs have a decision to make.
Do they want to be the ones who allow Canada’s Emergencies Act to be politicized to go after enemies of the government and for the banking system to be weaponized to settle political scores.
That is what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government are asking them to do.
Without the support of the NDP, the vote to ratify the use of the Emergencies Act will not pass. New Democrat MPs should think long and hard on what Trudeau, and their own leader, Jagmeet Singh, are asking them to approve.
They should also ask if they want to set the precedent of invoking measures that allow the government to freeze the financial assets of people who participated in a protest movement. Eventually, the government will change, but the precedent will have been set.
There is also the fact that any claim to a national emergency requiring these measures now rings hollow.
The border blockades are cleared, the streets of Ottawa are returning to normal, and any lingering claim that the Emergencies Act is needed is quickly falling apart. If the NDP votes to endorse what is before them, they are supporting any and all future governments using this extraordinary legislation.
Since this legislation was enacted in 1988, we have faced separatist movements that sought to break up the country, terrorist movements that sought to wreak havoc and a pandemic that has brought our society to a standstill. Not once has the federal government resorted to this law or these extraordinary and overreaching measures.
Yet now, faced with a protest in Ottawa that was exacerbated by a failure of local policing, the Trudeau government wants to enact the Emergencies Act.
For people not paying attention to the details, this sounds great, the government is acting to remove those “anti-social yobs” from in front of Parliament Hill. The fact is, though, nothing that was done on Friday or Saturday when the streets were cleared, actually needed the federal Emergencies Act.
The streets were cleared in Ottawa, and in Coutts, Emerson, and Windsor, without resorting to this extraordinary federal law.
Now, despite the streets being cleared and the borders moving freely, the Trudeau government is looking to the NDP to help them do their dirty work and allow them to freeze the bank accounts of any and all involved. That may sound good to NDP MPs, it may feel good considering how they feel about the convoy, but how will they feel next time a government moves in this direction?
Sec. 490.8 of the Criminal Code already allows for a federal or provincial attorney general to act to freeze the funding of groups breaking the law. It was this section of the law that the Ontario government used to freeze funding for the Freedom Convoy five days before the federal government announced it would enact the Emergencies Act.
Are New Democrat MPs willing to see every political cause subjected to the same scrutiny?
The NDP are generally opposed to Canada’s oil and gas industry. Would they support these measures being used against pipeline protesters and those who carried out the attack in Houston, B.C., last week?
Doubtful, but what is the difference?
The group in Houston was organized, well-funded and carried out a politically-motivated attack on a critical infrastructure project vital to Canada’s economy. It has cost the Canadian economy millions.
Using the same arguments the Liberals have used for the Emergencies Act, what happened in Houston would qualify.
The act never should have been invoked.
It’s now time for the NDP to join the Conservatives and Bloc in voting down this government overreach.