Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that he is revoking the use of the Emergencies Act, saying the situation is no longer an emergency.
Trudeau defended invoking the act in the first place, saying “It was the responsible and necessary thing to do” and there was evidence that individuals wanted to “undermine and even harm Canada’s democracy.”
He made the announcement at a press conference in Ottawa on Feb. 23 as the Senate was debating whether to confirm the government’s decision to invoke the act, after MPs on Feb. 21 passed a motion along party lines to approve a 30-day extension of the act.
Trudeau originally invoked the act on Feb. 14 to deal with the protests and blockades, declaring a public order emergency.
Invocation of the act granted the federal government powers to freeze protesters’ and supporters’ bank accounts without a court order, as well as the ability to compel towing companies to tow away trucks parked in downtown Ottawa since Jan. 28, which they had earlier refused to do.
Despite revoking the act, Trudeau said a parliamentary committee would still be struck to review the declaration of emergency. An inquiry will also be established within 60 days to examine what occurred, as per the statutes of the act.
“It’ll be important that we gain a fuller understanding of what gave rise to this kind of disregard for laws and threat to our democracy. We need to make sure our institutions are prepared and ready in the future,” Trudeau said.
The objective of the cross-country Freedom Convoy was to demand the lifting of all COVID-19 mandates and restrictions. It was originally initiated by truckers opposed to the federal government’s vaccine mandate imposed in mid-January on truck drivers who cross the U.S. border.
As the protests expanded to include blockades at several Canada-U.S. border crossings, the Omicron wave was receding and provinces started to lift restrictions, such as scrapping the vaccine passport.
By Noé Chartier