A judge in Canada last month ruled that the Trudeau government’s 2022 use of the Emergencies Act to put down the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests was unconstitutional, the Associated Press reported.
For several weeks, thousands of demonstrators blocked the streets in Ottawa to protest against the government’s pandemic policies, including its vaccine mandate for truckers.
In response, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government invoked the Emergencies Act which granted officials the authority to declare certain areas “no-go zones” and permitted police to freeze the bank accounts of protest organizers. It also allowed authorities to force towing companies to tow away vehicles that were used to blockade the capital and US-Canada border crossings.
In a January 23 decision, Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley said invoking the Emergencies Act in this instance led to the infringement on citizens’ constitutional rights.
He said that the Trudeau government had no justification to invoke the act as “there was no national emergency.” Therefore, invoking the Emergencies Act was “unreasonable” in this case, Mosley wrote.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland quickly announced that the government would appeal Mosley’s ruling. She argued that while invoking the Emergencies Act was a difficult decision, the Freedom Convoy posed a threat to public safety and Canada’s national and economic security.
Several civil rights groups, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, along with some individuals sued the Trudeau government arguing that the government did not have sound grounds to invoke the Emergencies Act.
The government defended its decision, arguing that the actions it took were proportional, targeted, and time-limited, and were all in compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A public commission found last year that most of the government’s emergency measures met the “very high threshold” required under the Emergencies Act.
During the 2022 protests, the border crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, the busiest crossing between the US and Canada, remained blockaded for nearly a week.