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The president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Laura Berger, said that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act amid the unrest in Ottawa, Ontario, was a power overstep Monday on “Jesse Watters Primetime.”
Canadian Parliament approved a motion to extend the act by a vote of 185-151 Monday. Trudeau defended activating the powers saying that “the emergency is not over.”
Laura Berger explained that it was the first time the government invoked the act since it was passed in 1988. The act grants “extraordinary orders providing for powers that usually don’t exist,” she said.
“So it is an extraordinary situation, and it’s an extreme situation. And it’s a situation where my organization has criticized the government for overreaching and for invoking the act, even though we don’t feel the situation meets the very high threshold required at law to declare a national emergency,” she said.
Precipitating Trudeau’s crackdown was a “Freedom Convoy” demonstration in which Truckers and protesters opposed to COVID-19 restrictions shut down the capital city of Ottawa by causing a blockade that lasted three weeks until police were able to clear the area.
Berger explained that the act is not exclusive to terrorism but that “the threshold established in the language is extremely and deliberately high … It must be something that is so serious it exceeds the capacity or authority of the provinces to deal with it, and it must be so serious that it can’t be dealt with under any other existing law of Canada.”
“So in our view, we have a situation that can and should have been dealt with under existing democratic processes and under the laws that are usually employed to deal with disruptive protests,” Berger said.
When he invoked the act, Trudeau stressed that “everything is on the table” to quell the demonstrations, adding that “We are a long way from having to call in the military.”