Over the past several weeks, we have witnessed protests and blockades take place at multiple international border crossings and in downtown Ottawa.
While citizens have the right to peaceful protest, they do not have the right to cause social and economic disruption by impeding the daily lives and business interests of other Canadians.
On Feb. 14, the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time to respond to the entrenched protest in downtown Ottawa. By this time, all other border blockades had been cleared by police and law enforcement authorities, using their existing powers.
The Emergencies Act defines “national emergency” as “an urgent, temporary and critical situation that seriously endangers the health and safety of Canadians or that seriously threatens the ability of the government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada.”
By this very definition alone, the invocation of the Emergencies Act was a serious overreaction and over-step by the federal government. Simply put, the Ottawa protest was a political emergency for this Liberal government – it was not a national emergency facing Canada.
Police and law enforcement in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, and British Columbia came together and were able to end the blockades taking place at our international border crossings, without incident and without the extreme government powers enabled by the Emergencies Act.
In our riding, a protest was planned at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie. However, it was ably handled due to the incredible work of our local police authorities – the Niagara Regional Police, OPP and Niagara Parks Police.
Imposing the extreme powers of the Emergencies Act sets a dangerous precedent for the future and for our civil rights and liberties. In fact, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association is already planning to sue the federal government over using the Emergencies Act.
For these reasons and more, I will be voting against the invocation of the Emergencies Act.
We are more than two long and difficult years into this pandemic and Canadians simply want a safe and responsible return to normalcy. When will we get there?
Perhaps when this federal government displays the needed leadership in providing Canadians with hope, critical health care tools and a plan forward to achieve recovery from this pandemic. On behalf of my constituents, I will continue to advocate for this.
MP, Niagara Falls riding