Canada’s Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act to crush peaceful Freedom Convoy protests against COVID mandates

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s battle with the Freedom Convoy of truckers reached a breaking point this week as he opted to invoke the Emergencies Act against his own people, granting himself and federal agencies unprecedented power to shut down the peaceful protest.


Quick Facts


For several weeks, Canadian truckers and their supporters, a movement known as the Freedom Convoy, have engaged in protests and blockades over COVID restrictions and mandates, including a mandate that requires cross-border truckers to either get vaccinated or quarantine for two weeks upon returning to Canada.

Trudeau, who was elected in 2015, has refused to meet with the protesters, who have asked him to rescind the vaccine mandates and other austere restrictions, as other countries have already done, including the United Kingdom. The government has already tried various tactics, including confiscating the truckers’ fuel and directing GoFundMe to withhold the nearly $10 million raised to support the Freedom Convoy. This past week, an Ontario court ordered the U.S.-based Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo to freeze all access to the millions raised on its platform. The site was later hacked and a list of Convoy donors released on the Internet.

A source told Reuters this week that Trudeau was “‘tipped over the edge’ by the almost party atmosphere among protesters in downtown Ottawa at the weekend, with scenes including a hot tub.” 

In response, Trudeau has announced that for the fourth time in its history, Canada’s government will exercise greater authority in the name of national security. However, under the Emergencies Act, passed in 1988 as a replacement to the War Measures Act, the prime minister cannot act alone; Parliament must approve it.

The last time this type of unilateral power was used was in 1970 when Trudeau’s father, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, utilized what is effectively martial law to stop terrorists who had kidnapped Deputy Prime Minister Pierre Laporte. The Prime Minister called in tanks and soldiers, and when asked how far he would go, he responded, “Just watch me.”

The use of the War Measures Act was ultimately unsuccessful as the terrorists tragically killed Laporte. Now it seems Pierre Trudeau’s son is following in his father’s footsteps to address what he sees as another national security threat: the nonviolent Freedom Convoy.

In order to invoke the Emergencies Act, one of four situations must occur: a public welfare emergency; a public order emergency; an international emergency; or a war emergency.

It is assumed that Trudeau is opting for the public order justification, which is defined as, “an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada and that is so serious as to be a national emergency.” Critics charged that there is little evidence there has been any violence or intent to commit violence associated with these lengthy and widespread protests.

Trudeau claimed that the protestors were “spewing hateful rhetoric,” expressing “violence toward fellow citizens,” and were “an insult to memory and truth.” These words differ dramatically from Trudeau’s words in 2020, when he tweeted, “While many of us are working from home, there are others who aren’t able to do that — like the truck drivers who are working day and night to make sure our shelves are stocked. So when you can, please #ThankATrucker for everything they’re doing and help them however you can.”

Trudeau previously referred to the Freedom protesters as a “small fringe minority,” who hold “unacceptable views.” Last year, by contrast, he voiced approval for the Black Lives Matter cause, even attending a protest held in Ottawa and taking a knee in solidarity.

Polling indicates that Canadians are also tired of COVID restrictions. Two-thirds of respondents in a Maru Public Opinion poll said restrictions should be lifted. Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded to the massive protests by tweeting, “It would appear that the so-called ‘fringe minority’ is actually the government.”

If Parliament approves the use of the Emergencies Act, the government will be able to use federal law enforcement to enforce municipal laws, prohibit public assembly in designated areas; regulate the use of property; compel people to perform services, such as requiring tow truck drivers to tow the trucks in the blockade; allow financial institutions to freeze accounts and funding efforts; set up no-go zones; and impose fines of up to $5,000 and sentences of up to five years in prison.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said of her authority to freeze accounts without a court order, 

“This is about following the money. This is about stopping the financing of these illegal blockades. We are today serving notice. If your truck is being used in these illegal blockades your corporate accounts will be frozen. The insurance on your vehicle will be suspended. Send your semi-trailers home, the Canadian economy needs them to be doing legitimate work, not to be illegally making us all poorer.”

During his acceptance speech after first being elected prime minister in 2015, Trudeau said, “If Canadians are to trust their government, their government needs to trust Canadians.” Unfortunately, the Canadian government has shown absolutely no trust in its citizens during the COVID crisis. It has repeatedly trampled liberty, ignored science, shuttered churches, arrested pastors, and allowed the economy to crumble. Yet now when people are standing up for their freedom, Trudeau pretends to care about the economy and the health of small businesses.

This was always the risk of allowing politicians to wield such broad and unquestioned authority during COVID. Now, apparently drunk on that power, the government refuses to allow people to return to normal. Instead of listening to the people, much less trusting them, Trudeau is doubling down and grabbing more power.

The hypocrisy of this situation is almost laughable; peaceful truckers who were regarded as heroes when they did what Trudeau wanted are now smeared as white supremacists and branded as terrorists simply because they oppose his policies. It’s almost laughable, but of course it’s not. If Parliament grants this level of power to Trudeau, the Canadian government will soon bring the full weight of the state down onto its own citizens simply for exercising their right to dissent and practice civil disobedience.

As we know from history, a government armed with unlimited powers and a thirst for retribution has no conscience. We’ve seen this most recently in Hong Kong, where the government have used propaganda, military force, mass arrests, confiscation, and the cooperation of BigTech and the media to smear, demoralize, and crush a massive protest movement for democracy and freedom. Today, Hong Kong, once a beacon of freedom and prosperity, has effectively eliminated all dissent and civil liberties, and its free press no longer exists after state police raided the offices of several independent press outlets, arresting and jailing their reporters and editors, freezing their bank accounts, and seizing their assets.

If members of Parliament wish for Canada to remain a western liberal democracy, they must stand up against Trudeau and on the side of the individual civil liberties granted by God and codified in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

And if they don’t, then those in the U.S. and other freedom-loving countries must take sharp notice of exactly what a government does when it grants too much power to itself and turns on its own people.