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Prime Minister of Canada, Trudeau uses emergency powers to put an end to protests

FILE PHOTO: Protesters interact with police officers, who stand guard on a street after Windsor Police said that they are starting to enforce a court order to clear truckers and supporters who have been protesting against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates by blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 12, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio/File Photo

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau utilised rarely used emergency powers to put an end to protests that have shut down some US border crossings and paralysed portions of the capital.

The news: The government used the Emergencies Act to impose measures aimed at cutting off demonstrators’ funding and to bolster provincial and municipal law enforcement with federal officers.

  • “The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety,” Trudeau told a news conference. “We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue.”
  • The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, on the other hand, claimed that the government had not met the criteria for invoking the Emergencies Act, which is meant to deal with threats to “sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity,” according to the group.
  • People opposed to Trudeau’s policies on everything from pandemic restrictions to a carbon tax have joined the “Freedom Convoy” rallies, which began with Canadian truckers opposing a COVID-19 vaccinate-or-quarantine rule for cross-border drivers.
  • Protests by truckers have sprung up in Israel, France, Australia, and New Zealand as well.
FILE PHOTO: Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question from a reporter at a news conference as truckers and their supporters continue to protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 11, 2022. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle/File Photo
Truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates from the camp at the Canadian War Museum, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 14, 2022. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg

What’s going on: Protesters shut down smaller border crossings in Alberta, Manitoba, and British Columbia for six days before authorities removed the protest on Sunday. Protests in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, are now in their third week.

  • Protesters camping out in front of Canada’s Parliament, some of whom want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with them, claimed the recent actions were disproportionate. Candice Chapel, a protester, stated, “It’s an extreme action that isn’t warranted.”
  • The financial measures, according to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, bring crowdfunding sites under terror-finance control, empower Canadian banks to freeze accounts suspected of sponsoring the blockades, and suspend insurance on vehicles used in the protests.
  • According to Canadian officials, roughly half of the funds for the protests came from sympathisers in the United States. Last Thursday, the Toronto-Dominion Bank blocked two personal bank accounts that had received C$1.4 million ($1.1 million) in protest funds.
  • After prominent crowdfunding portal GoFundMe rejected donations to the group, GiveSendGo, a U.S.-based website, became a major route for money to the demonstrators. Last Monday, an Ontario judge ordered GiveSendGo to suspend all donations supporting the blockade, but the company refused.
  • In response to accusations that the police response to protests has been too permissive, Trudeau plans to deploy federal officers to assist provincial and municipal police forces. “Despite their best efforts, it is clearly evident that law enforcement’s ability to successfully enforce the law faces major obstacles,” he said.
  • Police in Alberta, Canada’s western province, said they disbanded a group that was armed and prepared to use violence to support a blockage at a US border crossing.
Truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates from the camp at the Canadian War Museum, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 14, 2022. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg
Demonstrators and vehicles block downtown streets in front of the Parliament Hill as truckers and supporters continue to protest the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 14, 2022. REUTERS/Blair Gable

What’s important: The emergency measures must be approved by the Canadian Parliament within seven days, and the left-leaning New Democrat party said it will back Trudeau’s Liberal minority administration in passing them.

  • The action was endorsed by Ontario, which declared a state of emergency on Friday. The plan was opposed by the premiers of Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. Using emergency powers, Quebec Premier Francois Legault argued, risks putting “oil on the fire.”
  • Trudeau stated that the restrictions will be targeted geographically and would be limited in duration.
  • On Monday, Ontario announced that it would accelerate its plan to eliminate proof-of-vaccination requirements and reduce pandemic-related capacity constraints for many enterprises, while Alberta announced that it will end its mask requirements for schoolchildren.
A person waves a Canadian flag in front of banners in support of truckers, as truckers and supporters continue to protest the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 14, 2022. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg
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