The director of the criminal justice program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) on Monday said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau overstepped his authority by invoking the emergencies act to clear out “Freedom Convoy” protesters in Ottawa.
Abby Deshman said the CCLA filed a lawsuit to hold Trudeau accountable for exercising the emergency act’s power, arguing the legislation should only be used for true national emergencies.
“They really refer to violent threats to overthrow the government,” Deshman told Hill.TV on Monday. “We’re really concerned about the use of this type of national security legislation on what we essentially see as a domestic [and] very, very difficult protest situation.”
The “Freedom Convoy” protests in Canada erupted in late January as truckers objected to a vaccine mandate and COVID-19 restrictions in the country. Trudeau authorized the emergencies act last week and began clearing out protesters over the weekend.
On Monday, the Canadian Parliament extended the emergencies act again to both designate no-go zones and freeze truckers’ corporate or personal bank accounts.
But Deshman said implementing the emergencies act means meeting a “really high threshold” that Parliament, in this case, failed to meet.
“Protests are often disruptive, that doesn’t mean they are violent. But they are often disruptive: we’ve had protests that have blockaded railways, we’ve had protests that have taken over the streets of downtown cities for months at a time,” she said. “All of those things have happened and been dealt with under normal policing powers.”