It is official. Canada’s Emergencies Act is now the law of the Great White North after the House of Commons voted 185-151 in favor of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s emergency declaration, with the support of Jagmeet Singh and the New Democrats. The Liberal regime has not confirmed when this unprecedented measure will be dismantled, arguing, like a seven-year-old frightened of the monsters underneath his bed, that the Freedom Convoy could return at any moment. For now, Conservatives nationwide have vowed to fight the Grits’ power grab. But is this nothing more than targeting Canadians for their political beliefs? Considering Trudeau’s record, he apparently is picking and choosing whom he wants to victimize as he wields the weapon of the state.
The 2020 Indigenous Blockades
In the winter of 2020, protests were staged in opposition to the construction of the Coastal GasLink (CGL) Pipeline. A portion of the pipeline would have been installed in the Wetʼsuwetʼen First Nation territory in British Columbia, triggering widespread condemnation from Natives and environmentalists nationwide. Protesters also demanded Indigenous land rights, land conservation, and better environmental protections.
Demonstrations started popping up across the country, from Alberta to Ontario to Nova Scotia. Scores of protesters blocked access to several ports on the west coast, a rail yard in Toronto, and a crucial bridge in Prince Edward Island. Passenger services on popular routes were halted. Construction crews and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers in British Columbia were viciously assaulted by armed assailants. The masked attackers also caused millions of dollars in damages to Coastal GasLink property.
Billions of dollars’ worth of freight traffic and thousands of travelers were stalled after protesters erected these blockades of imperative rail lines, hammering Canada’s train network. Via Rail suspended services, while the Canadian National Railway closed significant parts of train tracks. These rail lines are critical for transporting crude oil, forestry products, and grain to markets in the United States and Asia.
Trudeau’s response was subdued compared to what is happening today. He insisted that dialogue was the key to resolution, urging the House of Commons to remain patient. “On all sides, people are upset and frustrated. I get it. It’s understandable because this is about things that matter—rights and livelihoods, the rule of law and our democracy,” he told Parliament.
During the standoff, which lasted close to three months, Trudeau and his Cabinet kept repeating that they would remain open for dialogue and officials would be willing to negotiate. Not once did the prime minister’s office entertain the idea of employing the Emergencies Act. Instead, Ottawa explained that Indigenous protesters were exercising “important democratic rights.” The federal government even dismissed concerns over the blockades affecting the economy as overblown, asserting that any impacts would be nothing more than blips.
Indeed, First Nation-led blockades have become Canada’s national pastime. Shutting down ports, blocking rail lines, and preventing key energy projects from being developed have turned into the go-to forms of protesting. Last year, other barricades were established by separate Native groups – Gidimt’en and Unist’ot’en – to showcase their opposition to driller activities under the Morice River in B.C. Typically, these protests come to an end after several weeks or months, and then the federal and provincial governments broker an agreement with representatives of these First Nation tribes. They are rewarded for their “occupations.”
Night and Day
Trudeau’s reaction to the 2020 blockades versus the 2022 protests has been night and day. On the one hand, the prime minister continually urged discussions to end one blockade. On the other hand, the Liberal leader imposed brute force almost immediately to finish another. Trudeau never afforded Freedom Convoy leaders and truckers the same courtesy he did the Wetʼsuwetʼen community, choosing to freeze bank accounts and compel tow truckers to remove the protesters’ trucks.
But if a Tory asks what the difference is, Liberal ministers and even the New Democrat Party will comically claim that the truckers are trying to overthrow the government. Ostensibly, bouncy castles, hockey sticks carrying a Canadian flag, and Tim Hortons Double-Double coffees amount to an insurrection and sedition for the fragile regime. Conservative Edmonton Member of Parliament Ziad Aboultaif might have said it best when he described the situation as Trudeau responding with an iron fist to some illegally parked vehicles.
~ Read more from Andrew Moran.
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