The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) announced their intention Thursday to take the “government of Canada to court” and challenge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s invocation of the Emergencies Act (“the Act”).
Invoking a national emergency provides the federal government with sweeping powers to, among other provisions, tackle the ongoing protests and blockades by imposing bans on public assembly in certain areas.
While Trudeau has defended the invocation of the Act on the grounds that the protests threaten the national economy and pose a danger to public safety and order, some have criticized the government’s “unprecedented” move.
Both CCLA and CCF criticized the federal government over its failure to address the issue through the existing legal tools and argued that invoking the Act grants the government “enormous powers to bypass the ordinary, accountable democratic process” Therefore, it is an extreme measure for which the legal threshold has been kept intentionally high and narrowly defined.
They specifically argue that the criteria under § 3 of the Act, which requires a “national emergency” has not been adequately fulfilled. Further, CCLA and CCF assert that the existing legal machinery is capable of tackling such situations, leaving out the need for adoption of such drastic measures that curtail constitutional and civil liberties of all citizens.
CCF Litigation Director Christine Van Geyn stated:
Emergency legislation should not be normalized. The threshold for using the Emergencies Act is extremely high and has not been met. The decision to invoke the Emergencies Act, which has never been used or interpreted by the courts, is unprecedented. If Parliament authorizes the proclamation of the public order emergency, the courts will be the last defence for the rule of law,” Christine Van Geyn, CCF Litigation Director, stated in a press release. This isn’t about the convoy versus the city. This is about the rule of law.
CCLA Executive Director & General Counsel Noa Mendelsohn Aviv further emphasized that its challenge of the emergency invocation is “not” an endorsement of the extreme views of far-right groups participating in the protests:
we are deeply concerned by the reports that some of the protesters currently in the streets have engaged in violent, racist, homophobic acts. We hear and recognize the impacts these acts are having on marginalized communities; we stand with these communities and condemn this behaviour.
The protests began in January in opposition to the federal government’s vaccine mandate, but have since evolved into a broader demonstration against the pandemic restrictions and the Trudeau government.
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28 countries unite against Axis Powers
On January 2, 1942, twenty-eight countries formally agreed not to make peace with the Axis Powers separately. At the time, all twenty-eight were fighting against the Axis as Allies in World War II. The agreement was part of the Declaration of the United Nations, signed the previous day.
During the preceding December of 1941, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had referred to this group of allies as the “United Nations”.
US government agents arrested thousands in Palmer raids
On January 2, 1920, over 500 government agents acting on direction of US Attorney General Mitchell Palmer carried out a massive counter-terror operation in 33 US cities, arresting between six and ten thousand aliens suspected of Communism, radicalism and anarchism. The “Palmer Raids” and the detentions and deportation proceedings that followed them were denounced by a number of prominent lawyers and judges who later established the American Civil Liberties Union.
Read an excerpt from Attorney General Palmer’s 1920 article, The Case Against the ‘Reds’ and learn more about the Palmer Raids and the Red Scare of 1919-20.