Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is revoking the Emergencies Act.
Trudeau announced Wednesday that the Emergencies Act will come to an end.
The declaration was invoked on February 14 after weeks of blockades and protests. It authorized the government to take “special temporary measures to ensure safety and security during national emergencies.”
The measures were put in place to “help get the situation under control,” the PM had said. The police were provided with tools to restore order in places where protests could create illegal and dangerous activities. He mentioned the unlawful occupation of Ottawa and the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge as examples of such settings and activities.
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Hundreds of arrests were made in Ottawa and at the Ambassador Bridge under the Act.
But effective immediately, the Emergencies Act is being revoked.
“Public safety as well as jobs in the economy were at risk. People were being harassed, small businesses were closing, factories were shutting down and trade was halted at our borders here in Ottawa and in other places in the country,” the PM said on Wednesday.
“There was evidence of individuals wanting to undermine and even harm Canada’s democracy. Their participation was believed to increase the potential for unrest and violence. We worked closely to support provinces and municipalities to get the situation under control. But as the weeks went by, it became obvious that provincial and local authorities needed more tools in order to enforce the law and protect Canadians. And that’s exactly what the Emergencies Act provided to them.”
The PM also added that he wanted to reassure Canadians about the preparedness of law enforcement agencies to deal with “anyone engaging in unlawful or dangerous activities.”
“Police officers will continue to be there to protect our streets and neighbourhoods within their jurisdictions,” he said.
A reporter attending the press conference asked if the Emergencies Act would make a return in case the police is unable to respond sufficiently to another Ottawa-like eventuality.
“Canada has the tools — in normal times, not under an Emergencies Act — to deal with the potential threat returning,” the prime minister responded. “And we’ve got a high level of confidence that the existing tools that police forces have across the country will be sufficient to deal with further disruptions.”
The Three Principles
Trudeau went into detail about three principals the feds kept in mind when the act was invoked — the restoration of peace and order, the right way to invoke the act, and ensuring it was time limited.
“First point, restoring peace in order in our streets and restoring confidence in our institutions was top of mind,” he said.
“Second, we needed to make sure we did it the right way will always defend the rights of Canadians to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression,” he continued, adding that the Act was created from and to uphold the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “These measures had to be — and were — compliant with the Charter.”
Thirdly, he said the Emergencies Act was always supposed to be time limited, and that the government was transparent about it from the beginning. “When we invoked it, it would be in place for up to 30 days, but we said that we would lift it as soon as possible.