According to the Justice Laws Website of the Government of Canada, the Emergencies Act is:
An Act to authorize the taking of special temporary measures to ensure safety and security during national emergencies and to amend other Acts in consequence thereof
The Emergencies Act written by the Canadian Parliament received royal assent in 1988 and has never been used until this week. It differs from the War Measures Act in two ways. First of all, declaration of an emergency must be reviewed by parliament and secondly, any temporary laws made under the act must consider the Canadian Constitution, Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The intent of the Parliament of Canada when introducing this Act apparently was to protect more human rights and less abuse of power than the War Measures Act.
In other words, in order to limit any civil rights under the Emergencies Act the limits must be deemed to be “reasonable and justified”.
My research revealed that there are four types of emergencies listed including public welfare emergency, public order emergency, international emergency and war emergency
Once the federal cabinet declares a state of emergency, they must file a motion for the House of Commons and the Senate to debate and vote upon. They have seven days to file this motion but unlimited time to debate it. Emergencies are temporary and unless renewed are only 30 days in duration. A Parliamentary Committee will be set up to oversee the situation.
Brian Peckford, the only living member of the group who wrote our Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that Canada has already broken the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by limiting travel within and outside of Canada during the pandemic. He has therefore filed a case with the Supreme Court of Canada regarding this.
If you are confused, you are definitely not alone! There are so many things about our situation in Canada that are difficult to understand.
Chrystia Freedland, Minister of Finances, states that there concerns for our government including threats to liberal democracies, economic damages and our global reputation all of which have motivated the federal government to take action.
On Monday, February 14, 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Cabinet members held a press conference in which they stated the following
- The Emergencies Act is effective immediately. I’m not sure how this can occur if the Senate and House of Commons have to debate and then vote.
- The Act will only be in place for 30 days, yet it might take that amount of time for review and debate.
- Prohibition of public assembly will be in effect and there will be restrictions regarding where protests can be held. I am still trying to research the criteria regarding when and how a legal protest turns into an illegal occupation. Was there a time element, size limit or another factor?
- Services such as tow-trucks will be compelled to clear roads. To date, most have been loyal to fellow trucker and refused.
- RCMP will be given more authority to enforce laws in municipal and provincial jurisdictions with fines and imprisonment as “tools”. This seems confusing too, as there hasn’t been much media about illegal activities. In fact, in Ottawa crime has apparently been reduced by 90% since the trucks arrived.
- Laws about money laundering and terrorism financing have been broadened. Financial institutions have been directed to monitor and provide information about both personal and business accounts to the government and RCMP. If there are transactions (including cryptocurrencies) that suggest persons or corporations have contributed to support the convoys, crowd-funded platforms or services they use the bank can freeze or close accounts without a Court order or consent of the account holder.
- Trucks being used in the convoys or blockades will have insurance suspended and corporate accounts frozen. As mentioned, the drivers will also face fines and imprisonment.
Some Premiers have stated that using the Emergencies Act is not appropriate or necessary. Because this has been done at the federal level, however, they cannot opt out provincially. Other critiques blame the Prime Miniter who they state has refused to talk with the protestors while claiming that he has tried everything to resolve issues.
Psychology involves three areas of focus: thinking, feeling and doing. I am still trying to figure all of this out so I guess you could say I am confused and sad when it comes to feelings. Regarding thinking, I am wondering how millions of Canadians who wanted to get rid of restrictions so they could return to “normal” are now being blamed for preventing Canada from getting back to “normal”.
When it comes to doing, I guess I am just writing this article with the idea that perhaps I am not alone. Are you confused too?
What are you going to do about it?