May 23, 2022

Justin Trudeau cancelling Emergencies Act signals tyranny can be defeated by populist movements

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had behaved like a tyrant to tamp down the Freedom Convoy protests against vaccine mandates. Suddenly he’s done an abrupt about-face,

Trudeau has canceled the Emergencies Act that permitted broad police action and imposed severe financial ramifications against protesters in Ottowa, the Washington Examiner reported. It was enacted on Feb. 14 to clear the city of protesters.

“The situation is no longer an emergency,” Trudeau said in a news conference. “Therefore, the federal government will be ending the use of the Emergencies Act,” he said.

“We are confident that existing laws and bylaws are sufficient to keep people safe,” Trudeau declared. However, this change came just days after the authority to freeze bank accounts and seize property had been extended by Canadian lawmakers, the Washington Post reported.

Though Trudeau insisted this was necessary and the Canadian Parliament upheld it even after the capital city was cleared. Many saw the Emergencies Act as a move toward authoritarianism because it allowed for police to declare “no-go zones” and restrict movement in and out of the city.

It outlawed public assembly and gave the government authority to restrict donations through crowdfunding and freeze bank accounts of people who donated. These powers were meant as an anti-terrorism stopgap in the 1988 legislation, but Trudeau decided to use them against his own citizens with the excuse that it was causing economic hardship.

During the protest, Ottawa officials were allegedly spending $800,000 a day while the border crossings with the U.S. that truckers blockaded cost the nation another $350 million in lost trade. “Over the course of a couple of weeks, the barricades and occupations got implanted to a level that we felt last Monday that we needed to give time-limited proportional, reasonable, Charter-complaint extra tools to our authorities to be able to remove those barricades and those occupations,” Trudeau he said. “This past weekend, we saw that happen, and as of Monday, Ottawa was clear of occupations and border blockades.”

It’s a positive change to see these restrictions lifted, but it’s unsettling they were enacted and upheld in the first place. Just because they were rolled back this time doesn’t mean the same will be said the next time Trudeau or another Canadian leader does it — and that’s a frightening prospect.

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