Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has found a new weapon to use against truckers protesting overweening government power in the form of vaccine mandates — even more government power.
On Monday, Trudeau invoked Canada’s Emergencies Act to smash protests that began with the “Freedom Convoy,” which rolled across Canada and have since resulted in blockades at border crossings and a sustained protest in the capital city of Ottawa. This is the first time the act has been invoked since its approval in 1988.
The act cracks down on the protesters in two ways — through expanding police powers and by attacking the livelihoods and assets of protesters. For example, the government can order banks to freeze personal accounts of anyone who is protesting, without needing a court order, according to the BBC.
The BBC report noted that last year, when farmers in India blocked highways leading to New Delhi, Trudeau supported them and said, “Canada will always be there to defend the right of peaceful protest.”
But on Monday, he sang a very different song.
“We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue,” Trudeau said, according to the Toronto Star.
“The police will be given more tools to restore order in places where public assemblies constitute illegal and dangerous activities, such as blockades and occupations as seen in Ottawa, the Ambassador Bridge and elsewhere. These tools include strengthening their ability to impose fines or imprisonment,” he explained.
Trudeau said freedoms are not being infringed upon.
“We are not limiting people’s freedom of speech. We are not limiting freedom of peaceful assembly. We are not preventing people from exercising their right to protest legally. We are reinforcing the principles, values and institutions that keep all Canadians free,” he said.
Shannon Stubbs, a Conservative lawmaker who called invoking the act a “serious blow to individual liberties,” said her party will debate the move in Parliament. Although Trudeau’s action went into effect immediately, it still requires legislators to approve it within seven sitting days, according to the Washington Post.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government is seeking to cut the legs out from the protest by draining its financial support and will use Canada’s “Terrorist Financing” rules to ensure that protesters cannot use cryptocurrencies and crowdfunding platforms.
Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister:
“If your truck is being used in these illegal blockades, your corporate accounts will be frozen, the insurance on your vehicle will be suspended.” pic.twitter.com/iv1K8VDhAL
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) February 14, 2022
“This is about following the money. This is about stopping the financing of these illegal blockades. We are today serving notice: If your truck is being used in these protests, your corporate accounts will be frozen. The insurance on your vehicle will be suspended. Send your semi-trailers home. The Canadian economy needs them to be doing legitimate work, not to be illegally making us all poorer,” she said.
In an interview with the Daily Wire, protester David Paisley said the federal government cannot break the will of the protesters.
“No one really cares about any new announcement. I mean the police have been breaking the law long before any emergency power. They were taking our fuel away. They were arresting people for purely having jerry cans or having empty tanks of fuel,” he said.
“They’ve already been doing these ‘emergency powers’ and all it does is make people dig their heels in more,” Paisley said. “The irony … is that these very powers and threats are why we are here.”
Trudeau has “underestimated the determination and the intelligence of those here, and so everyone still here on the ground, they’re basically willing to give their lives for this — peacefully of course,” Paisley continued. “They’re prepared to drain every last dollar, even from frozen bank accounts.”
Paisley said tuckers protesting in Ottawa have strong support from local residents.
“It’s incredible. People are just handing you fifties, hundreds, packs of hundreds. A friend of mine received a Bible, and when he opened it up, it had 500 cash inside the Bible,” Paisley said.
“The more the government tries to stomp this out, the more and more it causes people to rise up and say, ‘This is wrong, and I side with these truckers,’” he said. “These steps from the government have simply hardened the determination of the great men and women down here, so I’m not really concerned at all. We’ll have lots of new friends when we all get tossed in prison together.”
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