In an unprecedented move, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the invocation of the Emergencies Act Monday, allowing him to take additional steps to quell the “Freedom Convoy” protests.
“The illegal blockades have been disrupting the lives of too many Canadians,” Trudeau said Monday afternoon during a press briefing, claiming small businesses have been enduring “illegal obstruction” and that protesters are “breaking the law.”
“This is not a peaceful protest,” Trudeau said. “The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety. This is hurting workers who rely on these jobs to feed their families.”
“Despite [local police’s] best efforts, it is now clear there are serious challenges to law enforcement abilities to effectively enforce the law,” the prime minister continued in his announcement.
“I want to be very clear, the scope of these measures will be time limited, geographically targeted and reasonable and proportional to the threats they are meant to address,” he said. “This is about keeping Canadians safe.”
With the invocation of the act, Trudeau said police will be given more tools to strengthen their ability to impose fines or imprisonment on those who do not comply with local orders. The government will also designate secure places, such as border crossings and airports, Trudeau said.
“We will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue,” he said.
Trudeau said the government can ensure that essential services are rendered, such as towing vehicles blocking roadways while financial institutions will be allowed to regulate and prohibit the use of property to fund or support illegal blockades.
Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland said the government would be broadening their “terrorist financing” rules to cover crowdfunding platforms raising money for the Freedom Convoy.
“We are broadening the scope of Canada’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules so that they cover crowd funding platforms and the payment servers providers they use,” she said. “These changes cover all forms of transactions…the illegal blockades have highlighted the fact that crowdfunding platforms and some of the payment service providers they use, are not fully captured under the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financial Act.”
The announcement comes after crowdfunding site GiveSendGo issued a stark rebuke Thursday after a Canadian judge ruled funds donated to the truckers would be frozen.
“Know this! Canada has absolutely ZERO jurisdiction over how we manage our funds here at GiveSendGo,” the crowdfunding site said.
Trudeau also announced the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will also be enlisted to enforce bylaws “where required.”
Trudeau clarified that “we’re not using the Emergencies Act to call in the military, we’re not suspending fundamental rights…we are not limiting peoples freedom of speech, we are not limiting freedom of peaceful assembly…we are reinforcing the principles, values and institutions that keep all Canadians free.”
The act, which has never been used before, defines a national emergency as “an urgent and critical situation of a temporary nature that (a) seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it or (b) seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada.”
With the act, Trudeau now has the authority for 30 days “to take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times.” (RELATED: ‘So Much Love’: Ottawa Locals Discuss Freedom Convoy, Say People ‘Spewing Out Hate’ Haven’t Talked With Truckers)
Ontario Premiere Doug Ford said earlier Monday he would “support the federal government and any proposals they have to bring law and order back to our province, to make sure we stabilize our businesses and trade around the world as the world is watching us right now.”
Alberta Premier Jason Kenny said he prefers the act “not be invoked, but if it is we would very much prefer that it not be applied to Alberta,” according to Reuters. Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson reportedly issued a similar statement, warning the “sweeping effects and signals associated with the never-before-used Emergencies Act are not constructive here in Manitoba, where caution must be taken against overreach and unintended negative consequences.”
Truckers have been protesting vaccine mandates and restrictions for days, shutting down the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit, Michigan, to Windsor, Ontario. The bridge was reopened Sunday night following an agreement between truckers and Ottawa officials.
“We’ve heard your frustrations with COVID, with the measures that are there to keep people safe. We’ve heard you. It’s time to go home now,” he said.