It has been about a month since Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared the Freedom Convoy nothing more than a fringe minority filled with racists, hoping that it would vanish quicker than his approval rating. However, as truckers demanded an end to all COVID-19 mandates and generated momentum at home and abroad, the Liberals, New Democrats, provincial Conservatives, and establishment press went into full propaganda mode, decrying the movement as a far-right siege to perpetuate white supremacy. This did not work, so Ottawa executed the next best thing: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) hurled the power of the state against the protesters, essentially equating them to terrorists.
Liberals Declare War on the Hosers
For the first time in Canada’s history, the federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act, providing Ottawa additional power to end the blockades and rein in the anti-mandate demonstrations. The measures will offer police more resources to stop the “illegal occupation” and allow the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to enforce municipal bylaws. In addition to expanding the power of RCMP and the provincial police force, the Canadian government is employing significant financial repercussions for anyone supporting the peaceful protest.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that crowdfunding platforms and payment service providers must register with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the national financial intelligence agency. They are required to report large and suspicious transactions to FINTRAC. Banks are permitted to deny financial services or freeze client accounts they believe are being utilized to support the demonstrations.
Commercial and personal licenses could be revoked, while truckers or vehicles used in the freedom convoy could see their insurance suspended. Even tow trucks are being compelled to cooperate with law enforcement, or they could face arrest.
“The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety,” Trudeau told reporters during a press briefing. “We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue.”
“It is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement’s ability to enforce the law effectively,” he added. “It is no longer a lawful protest at a disagreement over government policy. It is now an illegal occupation. It’s time for people to go home.”
He promised that all efforts would adhere to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Great White North Responds
The polling data is mixed on the Freedom Convoy. One survey will suggest that most Canadians are against the truckers, while another study will show that the public is on their side. There is a clear division in the House of Commons, perhaps even within the prime minister’s own party. Liberal Member of Parliament Joël Lightbound recently urged Trudeau to “stop dividing Canadians.”
Meanwhile, the Official Opposition attacked the Grits for invoking the Emergencies Act, with interim Conservative Party leader Candice Bergen describing it as an “unprecedented sledgehammer” that could ignite more “political drama” inside the current minority government.
“He name-calls people he disagrees with. He wedges, he divides, and he stigmatizes. In spite of all of his failures, Coutts (Alberta) border has cleared. Windsor has opened up. Provinces and police are doing their jobs, and blockades are starting to come down,” said Bergen. “However, the prime minister thinks that now is the time to use this extreme measure and invoke the Emergencies Act.”
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh assured Canadians that his MPs would support giving Ottawa greater power once a proposal is tabled in front of the House of Commons, which the ruling government says will be coming “imminently.” The Bloc Quebecois does not want the declaration to apply to Quebec. Ontario Premier Doug Ford is not opposed to the measure, telling the press that “any special powers need to be extremely targeted” and only used for “as long as necessary to resolve the situation, and not one minute longer.” Only three provinces have voiced opposition to the proposal: Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) rejected the federal government invoking the Emergencies Act, tweeting that the “standard has not been met.”
“Governments regularly deal with difficult situations, and do so using powers granted to them by democratically elected representatives. Emergency legislation should not be normalized. It threatens our democracy and our civil liberties,” the group tweeted.
Be Careful of the Future
Now that Prime Minister Trudeau has put forward this unprecedented move, the decision gives future regimes carte blanche to crack down on any protest of which they disapprove. Conservatives could use this newfound power to dismantle Indigenous campaigns, while New Democrats could tap the Emergencies Act to stop the next anti-government movement. For those granting Trudeau this power with the hope of it being a one-off and tucked away for safe-keeping, there is a Quebecois phrase: Tu me prends pour une valise? Or in English, “You take me for a gullible person?”
Is any of this shocking when the prime minister openly admitted that he has an admiration for China’s dictatorship?
~ Read more from Andrew Moran.