Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has declared a public order emergency for the first time in the country’s history to support provinces in ending the ongoing blockades caused by the ongoing anti-Covid truckers protests.
Addressing the media here on Monday, Trudeau said that he invoked the Emergencies Act to give the federal government extra and “temporary” powers to handle the issue, adding the move targets to those areas in need, not the whole country, reports Xinhua news agency.
The Emergencies Act, which replaced the War Measures Act in the 1980s, provides special powers to respond to emergency scenarios affecting public welfare (natural disasters, disease outbreaks), public order (civil unrest), and international emergencies or war emergencies.
“It is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement’s ability to effectively enforce the law. This is about keeping Canadians safe, protecting people’s jobs and restoring confidence in our institutions,” he said.
The Act will ensure that essential services, such as towing services to remove trucks, are rendered, the Prime Minister noted.
It will also be used to protect critical infrastructure such as borders and airports from the blockades and the government will enable the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to enforce municipal bylaws, and he dismissed the involvement of military force.
As the truck convoy protest organisers have secured millions of dollars from crowdfunding sites, the measures also include giving banks the power to suspend or freeze accounts of blockade supporters without a court order, and force the platforms and cryptocurrencies to follow anti-money laundering and terrorist financing laws.
Also speaking at the same press conference, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said that companies with trucks involved in the illegal blockades will have their corporate bank accounts frozen, and their insurance suspended.
She said that under the act, crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers must report large and suspicious transactions to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, the national financial intelligence agency.
In late January, thousands of Canadian truckers and their supporters descended on Ottawa to oppose the government’s Covid-19 vaccine requirement for truckers crossing the border into the US, which has the same policy.
On February 11, Ontario province, where Ottawa is located, declared a state of emergency to quell the convoy protests.