To quell anti-vaccine mandate protests, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken the unusual step of invoking the Emergencies Act.
Mr Trudeau stated that the measures would be “time-limited,” “fair,” and “proportionate,” and that the military would not be deployed.
Banks will be allowed to freeze personal accounts of anybody related to the demonstrations without the requirement for a judicial order.
Hundreds of protesters are still on the streets of Canada’s capital.
After a week of deadlock, law police evicted anti-mandate demonstrators off the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, a vital commercial route between Canada and the United States.
What started as a protest against a new law requiring all truckers to get vaccinated before crossing the US-Canada border, or face quarantine if they return, has evolved into a larger challenge to all Covid health requirements.
“It’s about keeping Canadians safe and safeguarding people’s employment,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a press conference on Monday.
He stated that the police will be given “additional instruments” to jail or penalize demonstrators as well as safeguard essential infrastructure.
Mr Trudeau told reporters that the legislation will only be in effect for a limited time and in a very precise way.
Critics point out that in 2021, the prime minister expressed support for Indian farmers who shut down key highways leading to New Delhi for a year, saying at the time, “Canada will always be there to protect the right of peaceful protest.”
The use of the Emergencies Act by Mr Trudeau comes as protests throughout Canada approach their third week.
At a press conference on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland claimed that banks will be permitted to freeze personal accounts of anybody related to the demonstrations without a court order.
Anyone engaging in the demonstrators’ vehicle insurance may also be suspended, she noted.
As part of the endeavor, Ms. Freeland stated that Canada’s “Terrorist Financing” legislation will be expanded to include cryptocurrencies and crowdfunding sites.
“It’s all about the money,” she explained.
She responded after hackers revealed details of 93,000 payments totaling $8.4 million (£6.2 million) to the crowdfunding portal GiveSendGo for the truckers.
The 1988 Emergencies Act stipulates that a high legal standard must be overcome before an emergency may be declared. It may only be used in a “urgent and critical circumstance” that “seriously jeopardizes Canadians’ lives, health, or safety.” Protests that are legal do not qualify.
Canada’s Justice Minister, David Lametti, stated on Monday that these requirements had been satisfied.
The Canadian Civil Freedoms Association, on the other hand, was critical of the action, saying it “threatens our democracy and civil liberties.”
Mr Trudeau’s proposal was ridiculed by Ottawa protest organiser Tamara Lich, who told AP News: “There are no dangers that will make us fearful. We’ll keep the line open.”
Conservative Premier Doug Ford of Ontario stated that he supports the federal administration.
The premiers of Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, on the other hand, thought the emergency powers were unnecessary in their respective provinces.
Prior to Mr Trudeau’s statement, Quebec Premier Francois Legault warned that using the Emergencies Act would be like “pouring gasoline on a fire.”