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Ottawa open to changes to the Emergency Measures Act

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick The Canadian Press The federal Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs, Dominic LeBlanc, Wednesday

Sandrine Vieira in Ottawa

1:26 p.m.

  • Canada

The federal government is open to possible changes to the Emergency Measures Act, the law it invoked to suppress the Freedom Convoy protests two years ago. This will be part of a major reform of laws affecting national security which should be announced in the coming months, federal Minister of Public Safety Dominic LeBlanc indicated on Wednesday.

Judge Paul Rouleau presented numerous recommendations aimed at modernizing this law, which received royal assent in 1988, and ensuring that it is a tool adapted to the threats and challenges of our era. The latter had made 56 recommendations, including nearly twenty specifically linked to the Emergency Measures Act itself.

In its response to these recommendations, the government states that consultations will first be undertaken with the provinces and territories to determine “potential legislative amendments described in the recommendations”.

“You can imagine the reaction of governments, whether Quebec or other provinces, if we proceeded unilaterally to modify the Emergency Measures Act,” he said during from a press briefing in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked this law to try to end the Freedom Convoy protests, which lasted for weeks in 2022 and blocked the streets of downtown Ottawa and several border crossings.

“We understand the importance of acting appropriately. Changing the law on emergency measures, just like changing the laws that govern national security organizations or bodies, is not simple.”

The minister acknowledged the “gaps” in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Act, recalling that “iPhones did not exist” when the law was developed. “We therefore believe that a review of national security legislation is the right time to address the recommendations on the Emergency Measures Act.”

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In early February 2022, downtown Ottawa was besieged by protesters, many in large trucks, who arrived in town beginning in late January. Initially billed as a protest against COVID-19 health restrictions, the rally attracted people with various grievances against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government.

Protests spread and trucks blocked major routes to the United States in Windsor, Ontario, and Coutts, Alberta.

Justice Rouleau concluded that the Emergency Measures Act was “appropriate” and that “the very high threshold to be met to invoke the law has been met.”

Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley concluded the opposite in January, indicating that the Trudeau government's decision to impose emergency measures for nine days was “unreasonable” and constituted a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Trudeau government will appeal the decision.

With The Canadian Press

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116