It was two weeks ago the CBC reported Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam stated “all existing public health policies, including provincial vaccine passports, need to be re-examined because it's clear now that Canada, and the rest of the world, will be grappling with COVID-19 for months or years to come.”
Unfortunately, we have yet to see any sort of plan for our path forward from the Liberal government.
As a result, earlier this week the Conservative Opposition tabled the following motion: Given that provinces are lifting COVID-19 restrictions and Dr. Theresa Tam has said all existing public health measures need to be ‘re-evaluated’ so we can get back to some normalcy, the House call on the government to table a plan for the lifting of all federal mandates and restrictions and table that plan by Feb. 28.
The motion, by design, did not dictate what that plan should look like, only that we should have a plan. It was a motion the Global News’ chief political correspondent described as “a very reasonable proposition to the government.” Sadly, the government is not, in my view, in a reasonable mood and opposed the motion.
Fortunately, the Bloc (Quebecois MPs) supported the motion, leaving the NDP to be the decider. I regret to inform you that once again the NDP sided with the Liberals and opposed the motion.
With no plan in place, the illegal protests have continued and the tension in Ottawa has increased significantly.
As you may now be aware, Prime Minister Trudeau announced he was invoking the Emergencies Act, which is the replacement for the former War Measures Act.
The War Measures Act was only used once outside of wartime, by Pierre Elliott Trudeau at the request of the Quebec Government in 1970. The replacement Emergencies Act had not been used until Trudeau decided to invoke it this week, despite opposition from many provincial premiers, most notably Quebec (Premier Francois Legault). However, the premiers of B.C. and Ontario do support the Emergencies Act being used.
What is the Emergencies Act?
As the Canadian Civil Liberties Association describes it, the Emergencies Act can only be invoked when a situation "seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada" and when the situation “cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.
The last reference is of particular importance—“cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.”
As all Canadians will know prior to the Emergency Act being invoked, police were able to peacefully clear the “Freedom” protest that was occurring on the Ambassador Bridge, (using) existing Canadian laws.
In British Columbia, we witnessed the RCMP clearing anti-pipeline and old-growth logging protests over the past six months, also under existing Canadian laws.
In summary, as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association concluded, Trudeau has not met the threshold necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act.
So how does he get away with invoking this (act) if the threshold is not met?
(Invoking) the Emergencies Act will need to be confirmed in the House of Commons, where it is expected once again the NDP will prop up and support Trudeau and his minority government.
Aside from the fact that it is well-established that existing Canadian laws can deal with protests, in reality this is largely an Ottawa problem that the Ottawa police—for whatever reason—have either been unable, or unwilling, to deal with. Now, many Canadians will be subject to the Emergencies Act for what we hope will be a short period of time, largely to solve an Ottawa problem.
My question this week:
Do you agree with the decision by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to invoke the Emergencies Act?
I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.