Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on the ropes. Premiers are questioning his judgment for invoking the Emergencies Act. Provinces are abandoning vaccine passports in droves. His domestic support is collapsing.
Now, the prime minister is being shouted down in parliament, while even Liberal Party members are reluctant to support him. Watch:
The tense exchanges between Liberal Prime Minister Trudeau and members of the opposition began when Conservative Party interim Leader Candice Bergen confronted Trudeau over his invocation of the Emergencies Act.
“The Prime Minister invoked the Emergencies Act and 24 hours in, there are more questions than answers,” Bergen said. “Questions about whether this is justified, questions around if the criteria is met, questions around what this means to Canadians’ rights and freedoms.”
“Parliamentary approval is required in order for the prime minister to use this unprecedented sledgehammer,” she noted. “So can the prime minister tell us when will parliament be debating this? Will it be coming to us on Friday? And does he expect that we will look at it Friday, but then rise, take a week off, and not actually deal with this until March?”
Trudeau rose to answer the pointed question.
“Mr. Speaker, after discussions with cabinet and caucus, after consultations with the premiers of all provinces and territories…” Trudeau began.
The audible groans from the parliament began.
“After, uh, conversation with opposition leaders, we decided to invoke, uh, the emergencies act…” Trudeau said to rising shouting in the parliament, “to supplement provincial and territorial capacity to address the blockades and occupations.”
“I want to be very clear, Mr. Speaker, the scope of these measures are time limited and geographically targeted,” Trudeau added amid the cacophony of dissent. “They are reasonable and proportionate to the threat they’re meant to address, and they are fully to be compliant with the charter of rights and freedoms to, uh, reassure all Canadians, uh, that this is the right thing to perform.”
“Honorable leader of the opposition,” the speaker said, reintroducing Bergen.
“I had a very simple question to the prime minister,” she said. “He was not able to answer it. It would appear this could be more political drama for the prime minister. He name-calls people that he disagrees with. He wedges, he divides, he stigmatizes. Yet, in spite of all of his failure, Coutts border has cleared. Windsor has opened up. Provinces and police are doing their jobs and blockades are starting to come down.”
“But the prime minister thinks that now is the time to use this extreme measure and evoke the Emergencies Act,” she went on. “Isn’t it true that the prime minister’s actions could serve to actually make things worse and not make things better?”
“Exactly,” a member of the opposition said.
Trudeau rose to respond to the accusations.
“This is about keeping Canadians safe, protecting their communities and neighborhoods and ensuring jobs and our economy,” Trudeau said hollowly to an uproar of disagreement.
The Speaker actually had to rise to quiet the parliament so Trudeau’s response could be heard.
“This is a time for responsible leadership, not crass partisanship,” Trudeau went on.
The vocal disagreement in the parliament only became louder.
“The situation requires additional tools, not held by other federal provincial or territorial law. It’s what responsible leadership requires.”
You can actually hear members of parliament laughing at Trudeau at this point.
“These measures must be and will be compliant with the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms,’ Trudeau claimed. “We will always defend the rights of Canadians to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression, but these blockades need to end. And unfortunately, conservative politicians continue to encourage the leaders of these blockades.”
However, Trudeau is facing serious questioning of his judgment for invoking the Emergencies Act. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association dismissed the need for the act, while highlighting its dangers.
“The federal government has not met the threshold necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act,” the CCLA said on Twitter. “This law creates a high and clear standard for good reason: the Act allows government to bypass ordinary democratic processes. This standard has not been met.”
“The Emergencies Act can only be invoked when a situation ‘seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada’ & when the situation ‘cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada’,” the CCLA went on.
“Governments regularly deal with difficult situations, and do so using powers granted to them by democratically elected representatives,” the CCLA added. “Emergency legislation should not be normalized. It threatens our democracy and our civil liberties.”
Meanwhile, the premiers for several provinces said that Trudeau’s federal resources were not needed to handle the peaceful protests and economic blockades.
“The illegal blockades must end, but police already have sufficient tools to enforce the law and clear the blockades, as they did over the weekend in Windsor,” tweeted Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.
“Therefore, Saskatchewan does not support the Trudeau government invoking the Emergencies Act. If the federal government does proceed with this measure, I would hope it would only be invoked in provinces that request it, as the legislation allows,” he added.
“I am proud of Manitoba’s law enforcement officials & have full confidence in them to protect our communities. The proposal from the federal government to use the Emergencies Act is not helpful to the situation at the Emerson Border,” Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson wrote.
“Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told reporters that he told Trudeau earlier on Monday that he would prefer if the Emergencies Act did not apply to Alberta, and that such a move was unnecessary in the province,” Fox News reported.
“Quebec Premier Francois Legault also warned that he did not want the Emergencies Act to be applied to his province, warning that he thought such a measure would be divisive,” the report added.
“It’s not time to throw fuel on the fire,” he said.
Now, the Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly has resigned over Prime Minister Trudeau taking control of the police force.
“The Ottawa Police Chief has resigned after Trudeau took control of police forces last night,” journalist Keean Bexte reported on Tuesday.
Even the left-wing Toronto Star is questioning Trudeau for essentially calling to impose martial law on the Freedom Convoy protesters.
“Many will cheer the Trudeau government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to deal with border blockades and the occupation of Ottawa,” the Toronto Star editorial board wrote. “They’re fed up with the protests and that’s entirely understandable.”
“But we will not join the cheering,” the editorial continued. “Federal emergency powers may now be necessary as a last resort, but going that route is a shocking admission of failure by governments at all levels.”
“This was and remains a policing issue,” it added. “Right from the start, even before the truckers’ convoy rolled into Ottawa, there were laws on the books adequate to deal with this.”
“Perhaps the hope is that this dramatic move will stiffen the spine of police and finally make them enforce the law,” the editorial board concluded. “The Trudeau government should certainly hope so, because it now truly owns this crisis.”
The CBC, while broadly backing Trudeau’s authoritarian crackdown on political dissent, made an admission that he had likely made the situation worse.
“[T]he Angus Reid Institute poll also found that 65 per cent of respondents felt Trudeau had made the situation worse,” the CBC said. “Some of those people might think Trudeau has needlessly inflamed the situation with either his policies or his comments about the views of some protesters.”
Meanwhile, five major Canadian provinces announced they are doing away with vaccine passports: Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island.
It appears that Trudeau’s invocation of the Emergencies Act is the last gasp of a failed aspiring dictator who is still fighting a war that he has already effectively lost.
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.