By Sophie Boulter and Ivy Lewis, World News Editor and Staff Writer
Trudeau responded to ongoing “Freedom Convoy” protests by invoking the Emergency Powers Act, which deems the protests illegal and allow him to tow vehicles associated with the protests and levy fines against protestors. The blockade created by protestors led to the shutdown of a Ford plant. and other disruptions.
Photo courtesy of flickr.com
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked emergency powers on Monday in response to trucker protests demanding an end to Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Trudeau used Canada’s 1988 Emergency Powers Act to deem these protests, known as the “Freedom Convoy” protests, illegal. Trudeau has not authorized military action against the protestors.
The Canadian Parliament must approve the emergency measures before they become law. Measures “will be time-limited, geographically targeted, as well as reasonable and proportionate to the threats they are meant to address,” Trudeau said. “These blockades are illegal, and if you are still participating, the time to go home is now.”
New emergency powers will allow Trudeau to tow vehicles associated with the protest. Penalties for refusing to comply with the act include a $5,000 fee, up to five years in prison or both.
Leaders of the Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan provinces have expressed opposition to the act.
Forming a blockade between Canada and Detroit, Canadian protestors have forced a shutdown of a Ford plant. The blockade has disrupted the flow of goods from Canada to the U.S., causing auto industries in both countries to roll back production.
An ongoing protest is taking place at the Ambassador Bridge, which carries 25% of all trade between the nations. Traffic has been forced to a standstill. Some cars are unable to enter Canada.
The protests stem from disagreements regarding COVID-19 mandates, particularly regarding vaccination. The truckers are against vaccine passports, mandatory vaccination and mandatory mask mandates on the grounds that their individual liberties are not being respected.
Although Canadian provinces have been removing COVID-19 restrictions at the local level, Trudeau has defended the restrictions at the federal level, including a recent order requiring truckers entering the country to be fully vaccinated.
The vaccine mandate took effect Jan. 15, and some truckers commuting into Canada have expressed anger at the mandates. Approximately 90% of Canadian truckers are vaccinated, while the remaining 10% are not.
COVID-19 restrictions have generally been enforced more strictly in Canada compared to the U.S., with the support of more Canadians than Americans in their respective countries. The COVID-19 death rate in Canada is roughly one-third that of the U.S.
Despite widespread support for the COVID-19 mandates, they have generated a significant amount of opposition from the Freedom Convoy.
Auto manufacturing company Ford issued a statement on the protests.
“We hope this situation is resolved quickly because it could have widespread impact,” a Ford official said.
Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada’s left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP), argued that the use of the emergency measures showed that Trudeau had “failed in leadership.” However, Singh said that the NDP would join Trudeau’s Liberal Party in supporting the act in Parliament.
Some members of the opposition Conservative Party, such as Conservative Leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre, are opposed to the measures.
“Listen to the experts…Eliminate these mandates… let the protesters, including the truckers, go back to their jobs and lives,” Poilievre said.