The Train Wreck of Canada – You Want to Look Away, But You Can’t
Elizabeth Drocholl, Candidate applicant for Chilliwack-Hope (PPC)
February 26, 2023
To quote David Byrne from Talking Heads, “Well …. How Did I Get Here?” I will quickly walk you through the history of the War Measures Act, when it was amended to the Emergencies Act and how this is relevant in our modern day.
History of the Emergencies Act
In order to get a full understanding, you need to go back to 1970, when Pierre Trudeau was the Prime Minister of Canada. In October of that year, the front de liberation du Quebec (FLQ), kidnapped the provincial Labour Minister, Pierre Laporte and British diplomat James Cross from a residence. This led Prime Minister Trudeau to invoke the War Measures Act, which had never been done in Canadian history when there was no war. Some politicians, as well as many Canadians, supported Trudeau Sr., but there was also a backlash from Rene Levesque and Tommy Douglas, who were well-known politicians at the time. The invocation of the War Measures Act, allowed Trudeau to limit the civil liberties of Canadians and granted extensive powers to the police and military. As a result, 497 people were arrested and detained.
When asked by CBC reporter Tim Ralfe, how far Trudeau was willing to go in order to stop the FLQ, he stated, “Just watch me.” Hmmm …. This sounds similar to what we have heard Trudeau Jr. say in 2022. It should be noted that in 1970, the people arrested under the War Measures Act, were denied the due process to contact legal counsel. It was felt this use of the War Measures Act set a dangerous precedent.
During this unprecedented time, Pierre Trudeau was broached by reporters and to give him credit, he spoke to them face to face for approximately 30 minutes, with no apparent security present. In contrast, Trudeau Jr. did not meet with the Convoy organizers and legal counsel, he claims he had covid (again) and refused to meet. It is unheard of that a sitting Prime Minister refuses to meet with Canadians, who have valid questions and concerns. We are, after all, the ones who pay his salary. He works for us, not the other way around.
In 1988, the War Measures Act was replaced by the Emergencies Act and the Emergency Preparedness Act. The Emergencies Act is a statute that was passed in parliament, which authorized the Canadian government to take extraordinary temporary measures to address public welfare emergencies, public order emergencies, international emergencies and war emergencies. It also stated that any action taken by the government is still subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights.
Under this act, the Cabinet has the authority to declare a national emergency and this would be in response to an urgent or critical situation that cannot be controlled through any other law. The situation also needs to be beyond the ability of the province to address, or it is one which threatens the sovereignty of Canada. In order to invoke the Emergencies Act, there is a process that needs to be followed. The Provincial cabinets need to be consulted and must agree this situation cannot be addressed otherwise. In this process of invocation, it needs to pass through the House of Commons and the Senate.
During the amendments to this act (Bill C-77), the definition of “national emergency” and the situations in which it could be invoked was more clearly defined in order to be more restrictive in nature and therefore reduce a broad use of this measure. The intent was to provide increased protection of civil rights and result in less likelihood that it would be abused.
Another amendment was to change the requirement of the Emergencies Act from, “an urgent and critical situation of a temporary nature that imperils the well-being of Canada as a whole or that is of such proportion or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it” to one which “seriously endanger the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it” or a condition which threatens the sovereignty of Canada. These amendments were made since many ‘emergencies’ are considered to be “urgent”, “critical” or “temporary”, but may not be serious enough to warrant the use of this measure.
The provisions for invocation of the Emergency Measures Act are a public welfare emergency, public order emergency and an international emergency.
While some Canadians may not be aware of the background and history of the War Measures Act and the Emergencies Act, I am certain we can all remember the invocation of the Emergencies Act by Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau in 2022, in response to the Trucker convoy protest in February.
The impacts of the invocation of the Emergencies Act have been significant on those involved as well as those who donated money. First and most concerning is the freezing of bank accounts. Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland reiterated this statement from the report of Justice Rouleau, who stated it “was a powerful tool to discourage participation and to incentivize protestors to leave. I am satisfied that it played a meaningful role in shrinking the footprint of the protests and in doing so made a meaningful contribution to resolving the public order emergency.” Measures like this are illegal and unparalleled. This means banks and credit unions provided confidential information to the RCMP, which is a serious breach of privacy.
There are only two valid reasons to freeze a bank account, which are suspected fraud or debt or if there is suspicious activity. According to the Bank of Canada, three entities have the right to freeze your bank accounts – banks/financial institutions (due to suspicious activity or unpaid debt), general creditors (they need a court order) and the CRA, if you owe taxes. The federal government can also freeze bank accounts if there is reason to believe there is suspected terrorism or suspected crimes. None of the above-noted criteria was met in this recent freezing of bank accounts.
Protestors were put in jail for protesting. This is not usually how protestors have been dealt with unless the situation becomes violent in which case it would be justified. There have been protests since this time which have not faced the same repercussions. I am certain we will not forget the images of the line of protestors facing the line of police, who were in unmarked uniforms. Then the horses charged in and subsequently trampled a senior woman with a walker.
How much threat is a woman with a walker that she needs to be run over by a horse?
In looking at this highly disturbing footage, what came to mind for me was “CAPRA (C – clients, A- acquire/analyse information, P – partnerships, R – response, A – assessment of action taken)”. It is a model used in relation to the use of force. It is described as a problem-solving model designed to assist police officers or other members of the workforce to anticipate problems and to prevent problems from arising. It is a method of service delivery that focuses on providing the best quality service by reflecting an understanding of the client's needs, demands and expectations and, where possible, using partnership approaches.
This model is designed for law enforcement agencies, among others, to correctly and adequately respond in a crisis situation. The premise is to not use excessive force and thus escalate the situation. In hindsight, it appears that none of these steps was taken. Instead of employing verbal and non-verbal communication skills to negotiate with protestors who were cooperative, the police and other forces went straight to using lethal force, which is only used in situations where people are aggressive and there is a risk of grievous bodily harm or death.
What are the Facts
During the protests of February 2022, I saw a large group of Canadians protesting peacefully. They celebrated with music, kids’ activities and meals. They removed snow and garbage from the city streets, they gave food to the homeless. I felt they brought hope to many Canadians and helped to unite the country. Yes, there were a few individuals who had their own agenda, which was different from that of the truckers’ convoy. In general, the majority of the protesters were peaceful. At best, the only law that was broken related to noise violations from the horns of the trucks and other supporters. In response to standing up for their convictions and right to protest, they were treated like utter garbage by city officials and the government.
Official Decision – Feb 17, 2023
As you all recall, the ruling of Justice Paul Rouleau dropped on February 17, 2023. He is a Liberal activist and supporter and also worked with former Prime Minister John Turner. While there is speculation about distant relations, this is not confirmed. In the end, the Prime Minister appointed Paul Rouleau as the head of this commission to evaluate the actions of the Liberal government. Given Rouleau’s history with the Liberal party, it is evident this is a conflict of interest and he would not have the ability to make an impartial decision. Given the importance of this commission, it would have been advisable to have a panel of judges, not just one “hand-picked” judge, whose partiality can be questioned.
Decision and Rationale
Rouleau’s report found that while the high threshold to invoke the Emergencies Act by the government was met, this situation should not have escalated to this point, had it been handled better from the beginning. The report is over 2000 pages in its entirety and made 56 recommendations. My goal is not to reiterate the report. However, if you choose to read it, I have attached the link. https://publicorderemergencycommission.ca/final-report
I was surprised but sadly not shocked by this ruling. During February 2022, I saw Canadians unite with pride. I saw hope in the eyes of people that were not there during the past two years of intense measures and restrictions. I am not shocked by the ruling.
What else would you expect from someone appointed by the Prime Minister and is a staunch liberal activist and supporter?
In reviewing the Emergencies Act and the different situations in which this can be invoked, I personally do not feel the threshold was met.
Part I, the Public welfare emergency relates to natural hazards like fire, flood, drought, storm or earthquakes. It also includes biological hazards including disease that affects humans, animals or plants or can be man-made hazards like accidents or pollution. This section was not applicable in relation to the Freedom Convoy.
Part II, the Public order emergency refers to serious threats to the security of Canada. As defined by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, this includes espionage, sabotage, detrimental foreign influences, activities which support the threat or use of violence for a political, religious or ideological objective or those activities which threaten to undermine or otherwise destroy or overthrow the Government of Canada. The protesters were gathered and their desire was to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the mandates. They were not violent in nature and when arrested, they cooperated. They did not threaten to overthrow the government, although there are those who would have Canadians believe this. I will say, there were some stories that made reference to individuals who had this goal, but this was not the intent of the Convoy organizers.
Part III, the International emergency, refers to acts of intimidation, coercion or the real or imminent use of force from one or more other countries against Canada. This is not relevant to the convoy held in Canada.
Part IV, the War emergency was also not met since this was not a war or armed conflict.
In the words of Keith Wilson, in response to the Emergency commission ruling, “This is a dark day for Canada, and the reason it’s a dark day for Canada, is anybody who was observing the events in Ottawa during the protests, knows that there is no way any thinking person can say that they came to the same scale of national emergency that World War I, World War II and the FLQ crisis from the 1970s did, where there was bombing, kidnapping of diplomats and murders.”
In his ruling, Justice Rouleau has affirmed the use of such measures in future situations in which the government can override the rights and freedoms of Canadian citizens, freeze bank accounts and seize their property, without a warrant or due process. This is something we should all be concerned about. Many have concerns about this ruling since it sets a precedent for suppressing future protests. In the Prime Minister’s own words, “In the very horrible event that this ever has to happen again, for sure there are some lessons for us.” Chrystia Freeland even stated she felt the invocation of the Emergencies Act should be a “once in a generation” move. Does this mean they are already planning the next time this will be used?
Let’s not have this be “same as it ever was” as David Byrne states.
- FOOTNOTES -
1. azlyrics.com. Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime
2. Tetley, William (2007). The October Crisis, 1970: An Insider’s View. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queens’s University Press. ISBN 978-0-7735-3118-5.
3. Rosenthal 1991.
4. Rosenthal 1991, p. 573.
5. Holthuis 1993, p. 219.
6. Rosenthal 1991, p. 573.
7. Rosental 1991, p. 574.
9. https://popcenter.asu.edu/sites/default/files/library/unpublished/ProblemAnalysisTools/164_CAPRA_Problem_Solving_Model_Booklet.pdf – pp. 2-12
10. Woods, Michael (February 17, 2023). “Series of Policing Failures Contributed to Freedom Convoy Spinning Out of Control, Inquiry Finds.” CTV News, Ottawa.
11. Humphrey, Drea (February 17, 2023). “Freedom Convoy Lawyer Reacts to Emergency Commission Ruling, Clearing Trudeau: ‘Dark Day for Canada’”. Rebel News Canada, Calgary, Alberta.
12. Gilmore, Rachel (November 9, 2022). “Emergencies Act should be ‘once-in-a-generation’ kind of tool: Freeland”. Global News.
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