Canadians divided on invocation of the Emergencies Act to disperse the ‘Freedom Convoy’

A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds that Canadians remain unsure whether the invocation of the Emergencies Act was the best path to resolution in breaking up the protests that besieged Ottawa.

The largest group – close to half (46%) – say that this was necessary to give police the tools and resources necessary to quell protests. Four-in-five (79%) past Liberal voters and three-in-five (58%) past New Democrats bolster the ranks of those in support of using the Act. That said, more than one-in-three (34%) Canadians and half of past CPC voters (51%) disagree, and feel it was unnecessary and police already had the powers they needed to complete the job.

A considerable number – 15 per cent – say that they don’t think any action was necessary by any level of government or policing, and that protests should have been allowed to continue unbothered.

As the Public Order Emergency Commission continues its investigation into the decisions that were made and how the Act was used, Canadians are deeply divided about the future of this never-before-used lever of Parliament. An equal number say that the use of this mechanism was a good example of how it should be done for other governments to follow (45%) or that it sets a bad precedent for future governments and may lead to abuse (44%). This, too, is subject to stark political divides.

Residents in Ontario (50%), B.C. (49%), and Atlantic Canada (49%) are most likely to say that invoking the Emergencies Act was necessary. Those in Alberta (21%) and Saskatchewan (23%) are most likely to say that no action was necessary, and protests should have been allowed to continue.

Men are much more concerned about the precedent that invocation sets and the potential of abuse by future governments. Slightly more than half (53%) of men say this is a concern, compared to 34 per cent of women. Half of women (52%) say this was a good example of how the Act can be effectively used, compared to 38 per cent of men.

On a key faceoff question, younger people (18-34) are more likely to say that the right to protest outweighs the economic disruption it may cause (60% to 40%). Those 35-54 years of age are divided close to evenly, while those 55 years of age and older lean heavily toward protecting economic interests even if it means limiting protests at times (71% to 29%).

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