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Court rules use of Emergency Act was unjustified

By Randy Thoms Jan 23, 2024 | 4:25 PM

GoToVan / CC

The Federal Court of Canada says the government’s use of the Emergency Act in 2022 was unjustified and violated the Charter of Rights.

It was invoked to clear a truckers’ protest in Ottawa.

In his ruling on the case brought forward by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley concluded that “there was no national emergency justifying the invocation of the Emergencies Act, and the decision to do so was therefore unreasonable.”

“The record does not support a conclusion that the Convoy had created a critical, urgent and temporary situation that was national in scope and could not effectively be dealt with under any other law of Canada.”

Justice Mosley notes border protests in Alberta and Quebec were dealt with effectively by police.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says they disagree with the court’s assessment.

“I would just like to take a moment to remind Canadians of how serious the situation was in our country. When we took that decision, the public safety of Canadians was under threat. Our national security, which includes our national economic security, was under threat. It was a hard decision to take. We took it very seriously,” says Freeland.

“After a lot of hard work, after a lot of careful deliberation, we were convinced at the time, I was convinced at the time, it was the right thing to do. It was the necessary thing to do. I remain, and we remain convinced of that.”

Public Safety Minister Domenic Leblanc says there were concerns at the time of more border protests popping up elsewhere.

“I spoke to Premiers from British Columbia to Nova Scotia about risks to their community safety. We saw border crossings and the damage to the Canadian economy, thousands of jobs put at risk. We spoke with the Premier of Ontario and the government of Ontario that supported the invocation of the Emergencies Act two years ago,” says LeBlanc.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is applauding the ruling.

In a statement, Executive Director Noa Mendelsohn Aviv says emergency powers are necessary in extreme circumstances but should be used sparingly and carefully.

“They cannot be used even to address a massive and disruptive demonstration if that could have been dealt with through regular policing and laws. The threshold for invoking the Emergencies Act is extremely high. The government must demonstrate that there is an emergency arising from threats to the security of Canada and that that emergency truly has a national scope. The Federal Court agreed that this threshold was not met,” states Mendelsohn Aviv.

He adds the decision sets a “clear and critical precedent for every future government.”