On Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau justified the use of emergency powers to terminate anti-government protests that blocked the capital earlier this year, citing the potential of violence and police’s lack of a viable strategy.
In January and February, Ottawa was closed down and some border crossings were halted for weeks due to “Freedom Convoy” protests against public health policies including vaccine requirements. Given that negotiations with the demonstrators were impossible, Trudeau justified the use of emergency powers as being inevitable.
The issue wasn’t that they merely desired to be heard. “They wanted to be obeyed,” Trudeau said to the independent public panel looking into how the government used its authority.
“I am absolutely, absolutely serene and confident that I made the right choice in agreeing with the invocation.”
A sitting prime minister’s uncommon attendance at a public inquiry intended to shed light on the procedure that granted authorities unprecedented powers and ascertain if decisions were made publicly and with obvious responsibility was significant.
By February 20th, the final report must be delivered to the Canadian parliament.
The Emergencies Act, which hasn’t been utilized in its current form since it was introduced in the 1980s, was invoked by Trudeau citing the threat of significant violence and the lack of a convincing strategy for peacekeeping by local police.
The act granted the government a number of temporary powers, including the ability to prohibit public gatherings and to enlist federal assistance for municipal and provincial law enforcement.
It permitted the government to order towing services to remove blockades and authorized financial institutions to temporarily freeze the accounts of those thought to be supporting the convoy.