Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Canadians the country’s first-ever use of the Emergencies Act won’t be used “for a minute longer” than necessary in order to stabilize the ongoing protests in Ottawa.
During a Monday morning news conference on Parliament Hill, Trudeau reaffirmed that the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act has been “necessary” to ensure families, businesses, and neighbourhoods in the nation’s capital can “gain back their freedoms.”
“The situation is not something anyone wanted,” says Trudeau, “we didn’t want to use the Emergencies Act, it’s never something to turn to without serious consideration.”
The prime minister says the Act was necessary and that law enforcement agencies “relied on it,” saying the controversial enactment was “the responsible thing to do.”
“The Act is not something to undertake lightly,” he continued. “It needs to be momentary, temporary, and proportional. Every day we are reflecting how much longer it needs to be in place.”
Trudeau says that even though things seem to “be resolving well in Ottawa,” he says the state of emergency is not over, citing there are “real concerns” about the coming days.
Invoking the Emergencies Act has been necessary. It has helped us to take action against illegal blockades – and to stand up for public safety and the freedom of Canadians. For more on that, tune in to my update now: https://t.co/aBqoXAmwaR
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 21, 2022
Trudeau says it “became clear” that local and provincial authorities needed “more tools to restore order and keep people safe” after what he said was “weeks of dangerous and unlawful activities.”
He says people were harassed, small businesses were forced to close, and billions of dollars were stalled at trade posts. He says a “disturbing amount” of foreign funding “destabilized Canada’s democracy” and that the Emergencies Act was necessary to “keep people safe.”
Referring to Monday night’s House of Commons vote on whether the Emergencies Act will pass through Parliament, Trudeau says he is confident the bill will pass.
“We don’t always agree and that’s okay,” continued Trudeau. “It’s necessary to have debated in democracies, our government will always defend freedom of expression and freedom to protest” but stated, “you can’t hold a city hostage.”
Trudeau said all Canadians are tired of the COVID-19 pandemic but said the only way out is for citizens to “continue to work together.”
Because of the nature of an emergency act, the initiative has already gone into effect and must be debated in the House, where it will either pass through or fail. Should it fail, the Emergencies Act will be repealed. If passed, it will be in effect for a maximum of 30 more days.
The House of Commons has 338 members, and a majority vote would need to take place in order for the Emergencies Act to be revoked. The Liberals have 159 seats, Conservatives 119, Bloc Québécois 32, NDP 25, Green Party has two, and Independent has one.
Last week, the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois were adamant about opposing the Emergencies Act. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said his party “would support it” if (and when) the Emergencies Act was brought to the House of Commons. Singh says NDP would “withdraw support if powers were being misused.”