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Swatting Truckers with the Emergencies Act

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In late January and early February, 2022, scores of truckers traveled to Ottawa to protest against vaccine mandates. They wanted vaccine mandates to be dropped across Canada, or for political leaders to resign.

In sub-zero temperatures, Canadians came out to cheer on the 2022 Freedom Convoy. They lined highways in the dead of night. They flowed onto overpasses. They honked horns and waved Canadian flags like never before to demonstrate support for the truckers.

Then, effective February 14, 2022, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the never-before-used Emergencies Act to override Canadian civil liberties and silence the hugely successful protest.

A public inquiry is currently holding hearings and investigating the decision to use this extreme measure to deal with peaceful protesters.

A public inquiry is a mandatory requirement that flows from invoking the Act. The Public Order Emergency Commission  (also known as the Rouleau Commission) is to determine whether or not invoking the Act was necessary and justified.

Some have compared invoking the Emergencies Act to swatting a fly with a sledgehammer.

The truckers publicly asked to meet with political leaders. Yet, no one with authority to end mandates did so. Stories circulated online that certain political leaders had “coward-19”: Fear of Truckers.

The Emergencies Act can only be invoked when there are no other legal tools available to deal with an ongoing situation that is urgent, temporary and national in scope. The 2022 Freedom Convoy was not national in scope but was centered on Ottawa and certain border locations.

Less invasive means of resolving it were available, but never attempted or were attempted but sabotaged by the federal government.

Testimony at the inquiry indicates that a negotiated deal to end to the protests was reached. Truckers had agreed to move trucks. However they were not permitted to do so. The federal cabinet rejected the deal and invoked the Emergencies Act. Despite being urged to do so, the Prime Minister was not willing to negotiate with truckers, stating this was a “non-starter.”

No government applied for an injunction ordering the trucks to move. A private citizen applied for one to restrain honking. It was very effective.

Before invoking the Emergencies Act, mandates were not dropped

Within about two months of the 2022 Freedom Convoy, most vaccine mandates across Canada were dropped anyway.

Had mandates been dropped earlier, the 2022 Freedom Convoy could in all likelihood have easily ended without invoking such draconian legislation.

The big question is: why weren’t mandates simply dropped? No police presence at all would have been required to do so. Had this been done, there would have been no Emergencies Act invocation and no multi-million dollar inquiry at taxpayer’s expense.  

No matter what you may think of covid-19 vaccines or vaccine mandates, obviously everyone would agree that this legislation is not to be abused. No one wants Canada to become a police state.

It will be interesting to see what Justice Rouleau concludes.

The Commission is accepting submissions until October 31, 2022. The Commission’s website describes how to make a submission. The public hearings are scheduled to continue until November 25, 2022.

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