Canadian Lawmakers Extend Emergency Powers Over ‘Freedom Convoy’

by Liz Holland

Truckers continue to protest COVID-19 guidelines Canada requires to enter the country in a “Freedom Convoy.”

In response, lawmakers are stepping up their action. On Monday night, Canadian authorities voted 185 vs 151 to extend emergency powers. These powers allow police to intervene if these protestors attempt to restart a blockade at the border.

Over the weekend, police were able to clear out truckers still occupying the nation’s capital in a blockade attempt. Protestors created these vehicle blockades at several border crossings, but police were able to clear out those blockages as well. However, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that the emergency powers are still a need. He notes that there are still some truckers present near Ottawa and could be planning an additional blockade or protests. Trudeau’s Public Safety Minister also says that over the weekend, there was a blockade attempt at a crossing in British Columbia. 

Trudeau provided some insight prior to the vote. He said, “The situation is still fragile, the state of emergency is still there.”

Opposition New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh also noted that they were aware of protesters waiting in areas in and around the nation’s capital. 

“They need to be cleared out,” Singh declared. He also noted that authorities have already intercepted multiple convoys.

“This is an attack on our democracy. This is a group of folks who are very clearly connected to the extreme right wing. The organizers clearly have a goal in mind to undermine democracy. That’s something we can’t allow to continue.”

Protestors in Canada Face Freezes On Their Bank Accounts

Protestors who recently occupied Ottawa were largely chased out by police in what was the nation’s biggest police operation yet. Additionally, some faced freezes on their bank accounts. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said those who had their accounts frozen were “influencers in the illegal protest in Ottawa, and owners and/or drivers of vehicles who did not want to leave the area.”

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino shared that blocking access to downtown Ottawa has been pretty effective in keeping protests at bay. Trucker protests had grown to the point that they shut down key parts of the capital for nearly three weeks.

“While we always will defend people’s right to opinion, expression and assembly there are limits to rights when they begin to impact so severely on the rights of others and we saw that here in Ottawa,” said Blair, the emergency preparedness minister. “We also watched with growing concern as part of this protest group starting targeting critical infrastructure when they went to the border at Windsor.”

Trudeau Means Business, Aims to End Protests

For now, authorities have cleared all border blockades. However, lawmakers aren’t confident that protestors will maintain their retreat if emergency powers don’t remain in effect. Although the protests began over opposition of a COVID vaccine mandate to enter Canada, they quickly grew. The protests gained more traction as many expressed their general anger towards all COVID related restrictions in the country, as well as a general dislike for Trudeau. 

“A flood of misinformation and disinformation washed over Canada, including from foreign sources,” Trudeau said.

“After these illegal blockades and occupations received disturbing amounts of foreign funding to destabilize Canada’s democracy it became clear that local and provincial authorities needed more tools to restore order.”