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Use of the Emergency Measures Act deemed illegal by the Federal Court

Photo: Jacques Nadeau Archives Le Devoir Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had invoked this law to try to end the Freedom Convoy protests which lasted weeks in 2022 and which blocked the streets of downtown Ottawa (in the photo, the street in front of the Canadian Parliament at that time) and several border crossings.

Marco Bélair-Cirino and Sandrine Vieira

2:25 p.m.

  • Canada

The invocation of the law on emergency situations has just been deemed illegal by the Federal Court. In a decision released Tuesday, the court wrote that the government's decision was “unreasonable” and went beyond the legislative powers of the state.

“The reasons given to justify the decision to declare a state of emergency do not meet the requirements of the Emergency Measures Act and some of the temporary measures adopted to deal with the demonstrations contravened with the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”, wrote Justice Richard Mosley.

The freezing of bank accounts and credit cards also posed a problem, according to the judge.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had invoked the law to try to end the Freedom Convoy protests that lasted weeks in 2022 and blocked the streets of downtown Ottawa and several border crossings. This was the first time that this law, which replaced the War Measures Act, had been used since its creation in 1988.

Called to react, the Trudeau government declared that it would appeal this decision.

“Today we continue to be convinced that we made the right decision,” said Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. The decision was taken “reluctantly”, but national security, including the country's economic stability, was at risk, she argued.

“I’m sad that we had this situation in Canada, very, very sad, but we had this situation. We had a serious, serious security threat,” she defended in a press briefing, repeating that the “threat was real”.

The Minister of Public Security Dominic LeBlanc, for his part, recalled “the context” of two years ago when two homemade bombs and 36,000 bullets were notably found by the police authorities.

He also took care to point out that the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, supported the invocation of the Emergency Measures Act — unlike the Premier of Quebec, François Legault.

“We do not agree with the decision,” said Justice Minister Arif Virani, after reiterating his confidence in the courts.

“Ultra vires” and “unreasonable”

The case was brought to court by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), the Canadian Constitution Foundation and others who consider this law unacceptable.

In February 2022, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association announced that it was undertaking a request for judicial review following the Trudeau government's decision. She appeared before the Federal Court last year to argue that Ottawa did not have solid grounds to use this law.

“We have succeeded in the name of CCLA. The Federal Court found that the decision to declare the Emergency Measures Act was ultra vires and unreasonable and that the measures violated the Charter”, reacted on the X network lawyer Ewa Krajewska, who represents the CCLA in this case.

Official Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre accused the Prime Minister of “provoking the crisis by dividing people. “. “He then violated Charter rights by illegally repressing citizens,” he wrote on his social media.

The public inquiry led by Commissioner Paul Rouleau last year concluded that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had met the threshold required to invoke the law.

More details will follow.

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