Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the .
On Monday, as we entered the third week of illegal blockades and occupations, the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act. We did it to protect families and small businesses, to protect jobs and the economy. We did it because the situation could not be dealt with under any other law in Canada. We did it because that is what responsible leadership required us to do.
For the good of all Canadians, the illegal blockades and occupations have to stop and the borders have to remain open. We have made progress since Monday. On Tuesday, the border was reopened in southern Alberta after the Coutts blockade was dismantled. The RCMP arrested a small group of people within the larger blockade and seized firearms, ammunition and body armour. It is believed that this group was willing to use force against police officers.
On Wednesday, the blockade in Emerson, Manitoba had been cleared without arrests or charges. Traffic and trade at this border crossing have now resumed.
In Windsor, Mayor Dilkens said that law enforcement was able to successfully intercept a new convoy suspected of heading to the Ambassador Bridge.
Here in Ottawa, law enforcement now has more tools and resources in order to give the people of this city their jobs, neighbourhoods and freedoms back.
In Windsor, Coutts and Emerson, illegal blockades have been lifted and border crossings have resumed or are resuming. I want to thank law enforcement officers, including RCMP members, for their work on the ground.
For the sake of the economy, families and workers, it is high time that these illegal and dangerous activities ended, including here in Ottawa.
Invoking the Emergencies Act is not something we do lightly. This is not the first, second or third option. It is the last resort.
When I consulted the provincial and territorial premiers on Monday morning I was very clear. By obstructing the supply chains, the illegal blockades are causing considerable harm to our economy and to Canadians.
It is consistent with the requirements of the Emergencies Act that the views of the premiers of all provinces and territories be carefully considered, and that is what we did. The consultation and collaboration with the premiers will continue until the situation is resolved.
As I said on Monday, the scope of the Emergencies Act is time-limited and targeted, as well as reasonable and proportionate. It strengthens and supports law enforcement agencies so they have more tools to restore order and protect critical infrastructure.
These illegal blockades are being heavily supported by individuals in the United States and from elsewhere around the world. We see that roughly half of the funding that is flowing to the barricaders here is coming from the United States.
The goal of all measures, including financial measures, in the Emergencies Act is to deal with the current threat only, and to get the situation fully under control.
I want to reassure Canadians that when the Emergencies Act is invoked, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms continues to protect their individual rights. We are not using the Emergencies Act to call in the military. We are not limiting people's freedom of expression. We are not limiting freedom of peaceful assembly. We are not preventing people from exercising their right to protest legally. We are, in fact, reinforcing the principles, values and institutions that keep all Canadians free.
The blockades and occupations are illegal. They are a threat to our economy and to our relationship with trading partners. They are a threat to supply chains and the availability of essential goods, such as food and medicine, and they are a threat to public safety.
The Emergencies Act will be time limited and targeted to respond to the threats of occupations and illegal blockades only.
The measures are reasonable and proportionate. I want it to be clear to Canadians that when the Emergencies Act is invoked, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms continues to protect individual rights.
We are not using the Emergencies Act to send in the army. We are not taking away fundamental rights. We are not limiting freedom of expression or the right to peaceful protest. What we want to do is ensure the safety of Canadians, protect workers' jobs and restore trust in our institutions.
We understand that everyone is tired of this pandemic. We understand that Canadians are frustrated with COVID. Some protesters came to Ottawa to express their frustration and fatigue with public health measures, and that is their right. As I said, it is a right that we will defend in this free and democratic country. However, illegal blockades and occupations are not peaceful protests. They have to stop.
We all want the pandemic to be over. Public health measures are constantly being re-evaluated. We will continue to modify them based on the science and the situation, and we will continue to encourage people to get vaccinated.
This week, based on advice from public health experts, our , Mr. Duclos, announced that we will soon start easing border measures for travellers. Our government—
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the for commencing this important debate on the invocation of the Emergencies Act for the first time.
I want to begin with a number of expressions of gratitude, both to my colleagues on this side of the House and to the opposition for the informed debate we are about to have. Finally, I would like to thank Canadians. I know this has been a very difficult time, a period of great frustration, anxiety and uncertainty. It is not lost on me, and I hope it is not lost on any member of the chamber, that the confluence of events of the pandemic and now these illegal blockades does create for an emotionally charged atmosphere. Sometimes we let that get the better of us here in this chamber.
My sincere hope is that we will be able to have a principled debate about why it is that the government has chosen to invoke the Emergencies Act, the paramount reason being the health and safety of all Canadians.
We have heard the set out what the test for the invocation of the Emergencies Act is, and I know my colleague, the , and other members will elaborate on that. However, I want to focus my comments on what I believe are the perceived and real risks to public safety we have seen over the last number of weeks that have emanated from the so-called “freedom convoy”.
This convoy has taken to the streets, and other critical infrastructure, right across the country, including our borders, national symbols, communities and neighbourhoods. It has had a profound impact. I would submit to members of this chamber that it has been a very negative and detrimental impact to public safety.
I want to touch on the number of ports of entry that have been significantly interrupted as a result of participation in the illegal blockades, including at Coutts, Alberta; Emerson, Manitoba; Surrey, British Columbia; Windsor, Ontario; Sarnia, Ontario; Fort Erie, Ontario; as well as those here in Ottawa.
I hope that all members recognize that the kind of conduct we have seen at our borders puts the integrity and the security of this country into serious question. The impact at Coutts, for example, has cost the economy approximately $48 million per day. In Emerson it has been $73 million day, and in Windsor,where we conduct roughly a quarter of all of our daily trade with our most important trading partner, the United States, it has been roughly $390 million. Those are just numerical figures, but I think about the translation of those dollar figures into the impact on Canadian jobs, families and those who are just trying to get by right now.
Whatever the motivation of some individuals who have commingled with those organizers and agitators of these illegal blockades, whatever their concerns are with regard to the government's strategy to get out of the pandemic, which is of course to get vaccinated, this has become something much more concerning.
I do want to say we have made some progress at these ports of entry, and that is in large part thanks to the very important work that has been undertaken by the members of our law enforcement.
I want to thank the RCMP for its efforts and energy. I also want to thank all the police forces who are doing great work on the ground. We are seeing a lot of progress. Most of the borders are now open. That is good for the economy, good for business and good for Canadians. However, this progress is no guarantee.
It is very important that we continue to guarantee the progress that we have made. I want to speak for a moment about the situation here in Ottawa. I know that many of my colleagues in the NCR caucus have spoken very articulately and very passionately about the damage that has been caused in our communities and neighbourhoods. I have also heard some members of the opposition try to somehow cast a minimization, in an effort to generalize what is going on outside of this chamber as being legitimate. It is not. It is illegal, and it causes great harm.
We have seen people intimidated, harassed and threatened. We have seen apartment buildings chained up. We have seen fires set in corridors. Residents are being terrorized, and it is absolutely gut-wrenching to see the sense of abandonment and helplessness they have felt for weeks now. I want to assure them that since day one, the federal government has done everything it could do to provide additional resources. The RCMP has sent three sets of reinforcements to the Ottawa Police Service, and we will continue to do whatever we can to help.
However, it is also important for members of this chamber that we write the laws and we set the policies, but we trust our police, our law enforcement, to enforce them. That is why it is so important that we use every tool in our tool box, especially now, when we find ourselves in a predicament, a dilemma, a situation that has perhaps never been seen before.
I ask myself, and I hope others are reflecting as well, what this is all about. I try to step back and look at what is occurring. I am concerned. I have heard some people say, and they are still saying, that this is a protest about vaccines. It is not. They say that it is protest about mandates. It is not.
I have heard some people still say that this is a protest about freedom. What is going on outside, on the streets of Canada and at our borders, is most certainly not about freedom. It is about a very small, organized and targeted group of individuals that is trying to strip away the very freedoms that we here, and the generations of those who preceded us, have sworn to uphold.
I have seen many striking similarities in the way that these blockades have manifested across the country, including the tactics that they are using, the timing they are occurring, and the targets, whether they are national symbols, such as Parliament here, or provincial legislatures. There was also the war monument outside, where we hear members speak passionately about their forebears who made sacrifices for the freedoms that we now enjoy. The individuals outside are tearing down the barriers to attack those monuments. What does that say? Those are—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Hon. Marco Mendicino: I know members are heckling, but I am encouraging them to reflect on this and on the rhetoric. Notwithstanding the efforts of my colleagues to shout me down, I am speaking on behalf of constituents and Canadians. Yes, there is an ideologically motivated operation that we see here in the rhetoric that is meant to incite.
That is indeed one of the reasons why we have had to invoke the Emergencies Act. I want to assure members that these are very targeted measures. They are time limited, and they are protected by the charter. For those who want to ask questions as to how those powers are going to be enforced, part of the debate is going to ensure that there are sufficient guardrails and safeguards in place. There will be transparency on how those measures are implemented.
There will also be an inquiry to ensure that we can learn from these lessons and make sure that this is an instrument that has been used responsibly and in a manner that is consistent with the charter to uphold the health and safety of all Canadians.
At the end of the day, we are all here, I would hope, to do one thing, and that is to protect the health and safety of Canadians. We find ourselves at a crossroads of the pandemic, but we have made progress. We have made progress with the pandemic, and we are making progress in restoring public order, but it is absolutely imperative that we have these debates in a principled and reasonable manner that is respectful of our constituents and respectful of Canadians. That is certainly something that I hope we will see over the next number of days.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for today.
This week, for the first time since its passage, the Emergencies Act has been invoked by the . This is historic, and it is extremely disappointing. The Prime Minister has invoked the act, he says, to deal with the protests that have gathered here in downtown Ottawa and blockades that were happening at the Coutts border in Alberta, the Emerson border in Manitoba, the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor and the border at Surrey, all of which, by the way, are now open. There are no more blockades at any borders. What are left are the trucks parked outside here in Ottawa that need to move or be moved.
However, throughout the last three weeks the Prime Minister has failed to take meaningful action to de-escalate the protests here or to use any tools he may have available. Instead, he has jumped straight to the most extreme measure, and as he has invoked the act, he has failed to meet the high threshold set out by the Emergencies Act to justify it, that being when a situation “seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada,” and when the situation “cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of [the country].”
Conservatives do not believe the government has shown that threshold has been met, and thus we will be voting against it. Members should keep in mind this act is already invoked and is the new law of the land. Our debate and the vote on Monday can only stop it if the NDP vote with Conservatives and the Bloc to stop it. Supporting the use of the Emergencies Act is one of the most serious decisions a parliamentarian can make. I want to remind especially the New Democrats of this, who are supporting the Liberals in this sledgehammer approach. History will not be kind to the or his members on this particular question.
The Emergencies Act's predecessor, the War Measures Act, was only used three times: World War I, World War II and the FLQ crisis. We should keep these precedents in mind. The weight of those events should caution us against making this decision lightly. These protests have caused disruptions for many Canadians, especially local businesses and residents of Ottawa. As I have said, Conservatives are the party of law and order. We believe the trucks should move or be moved, but we want to lower the temperature across the country. The clearly wants to raise it.
Let us be very clear how this all started. The decided to impose a vaccine mandate on truckers with no scientific evidence that it was the right thing to do. Many Canadians opposed it, but he went ahead anyway. Truckers and millions of Canadians felt they had no recourse with the Prime Minister, and who can blame them? After all, this was the Prime Minister who called them racist and misogynist. He said their views were unacceptable and that they were on the fringe. When truckers and their supporters arrived in Ottawa, what did the Prime Minister do first? He hid for a week and then he continued his insults, calling them and anyone who supported them or even talked with them things like Nazi supporters. We saw that name-calling and unfair and mean-spirited characterization happen just yesterday by the Prime Minister of Canada in the House. That is all he has done to rectify the problem: call names and insult.
Many of the people who are protesting and are upset are our neighbours. They are our constituents. They are Canadians. They want to be heard and given just a little respect by their , but he has decided that, because he disagrees with them and does not like their opinions, he will not hear them. At every turn the Prime Minister has stigmatized, wedged, divided and traumatized Canadians, and now, without even a single meeting with a trucker, without talking through one of their concerns, without apologizing for his insults, without listening to what people have to say and without using any other tool at his disposal, he has used this overreach, the Emergencies Act, and it is wrong.
The 's leadership in this situation has, frankly, been abysmal. He said this week, “Invoking the Emergencies Act is never the first thing a government should do, nor even the second. The act is to be used sparingly and as a last resort”, but his actions have shown the opposite approach.
The so-called measure of last resort has come before taking any action to address the frustrations at the root of the protest. How did the go directly from ignoring the truckers to turning to the Emergencies Act? Why has the government jumped straight to this without doing anything to lower the temperature first? Conservatives put forward a reasonable approach that could help bring the temperature down and address the concerns. We asked the government to commit publicly to a specific plan and timeline to roll back federal mandates and restrictions, but the Liberals and NDP refused to support our plan. Instead, the Prime Minister reached for more power. This comes as provincial governments are announcing plans to end COVID-19 restrictions.
The is an exception to this trend and he refuses to come forward with a plan. Even the provinces are unhappy with the Prime Minister for doing this: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia. They are all opposed to the use of the Emergencies Act. This is not a good look for the Prime Minister.
We all want the trucks here in Ottawa to move. We want a peaceful and quick end to the trucks blocking the streets in Ottawa. Our message to those protesting is still this: Conservatives have heard them. We will keep standing up for them, but it is time to move the trucks.
At the same time, no government should resort to the kinds of extreme measures that we are seeing. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has a track record of serious disregard for the law and that raises a lot of red flags. This is the Prime Minister who interfered with an ongoing criminal trial in the SNC-Lavalin scandal. This is the Prime Minister who took the Speaker to court instead of fulfilling his legal obligation to provide documents to this Parliament on two separate occasions. This is the Prime Minister who has been found guilty by the Ethics Commissioner.
This Prime Minister admitted his admiration for basic dictatorships. We have seen red flag after red flag after red flag. He may not like it, but in Canada civil liberties must be defended at every turn. Section 2 guarantees our freedom of association and assembly. Section 7 guarantees our right to life, liberty and security of the person. Section 8 guarantees our protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
Canadians cannot be expected to simply take the at his word. His plans are not consistent with fundamental freedoms. The government should not have the power to close the bank accounts of Canadians on a whim. The Prime Minister is doing this to save his own political skin, but this is not a game. It comes at a cost to Canadians' rights and freedoms. Parliament should not allow the Prime Minister to avoid responsibility in this way.
I urge all members of the House to proceed with extreme caution. Now is the time to stand up for their constituents, to show real leadership, to help heal our divisions, to listen to those we disagree with, to not shut them down, to not tell them that they are irrelevant and to not speak insults to them. That is the job of each one of us as members of Parliament, no matter who we represent. We have to represent them with integrity, with hope, with honour.
What the is doing, and has done for the last two years, is to disregard those Canadians, call them names and insult them. It is time for every one of us to show leadership and say no to this Emergencies Act.
Mr. Speaker, I would prefer to stand in the House today and talk about inflation. I would prefer to stand in the House today to defend the mothers, fathers and seniors who have suffered so much since the beginning of the pandemic and who are facing all sorts of really difficult situations. However, because of this Prime Minister's inaction, because he chose to protect his career rather than listen to Canadians, we are here today discussing a law that is being invoked by Parliament and the Prime Minister for the very first time since its enactment in 1988: the Emergencies Act.
This day will go down in history, but not for the right reasons. It is very disappointing. The Prime Minister says he is invoking the act to manage the blockades and protests happening in downtown Ottawa, at the border crossings in Coutts, Alberta, and Emerson, Manitoba, and at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor. He said it again this morning.
I would like to point out to my colleagues that we must take these precedents into account. The weight of these events calls for prudence on our part. However, only the blockades in Ottawa remain. All of the other blockades ended or were ended without the need for the Emergencies Act. For 15 days, the Prime Minister took no real action to defuse the protests. He did not listen to the discontent, fatigue and demands being expressed by the protesters and Canadians. He preferred to take extreme measures as a first resort.
In short, the Prime Minister failed to meet the high threshold provided for in the Emergencies Act to justify its invocation and application. For that reason, the Conservatives will be voting against his decision. Invoking the Emergencies Act is one of the most important decisions a member of Parliament can make. Its predecessor, the War Measures Act, was invoked only three times: World War I, World War II and the October Crisis, which Quebeckers remember all too well.
It is our prime responsibility as parliamentarians to protect our democracy. This includes Canadians' right to elect their representatives, the right to disagree with the government, and the right to express that disagreement publicly.
We know that these protests are causing problems for many Canadians, especially residents of Ottawa and local businesses. It is extremely hard for them. They are the collateral damage of a situation that extends far beyond the streets and people of Ottawa. We acknowledge that. As we have often said, the Conservative Party is the party of law and order. The illegal blockades must end quickly and peacefully. It is time to de-escalate the situation, not only in Ottawa, but across the country. Unfortunately, as many experts and analysts have said, the Prime Minister's actions could have the complete opposite effect.
Let us start at the beginning. How did these events start?
They started when the Prime Minister decided to politicize an election, to trigger an election in the middle of a pandemic, and then decided to force truckers to get vaccinated when there is no scientific proof that it was the right thing to do. We put the question to the government. We asked the on what expert testimony he was basing his decision to force truckers to get vaccinated. The government consistently avoided the question. It never answered, but it did not back down. It kept the rqeuirement in place, despite all the problems it was causing for our economy and supply chains, and despite the size of the movement it created.
When the protesters arrived in Ottawa, the Prime Minister went into hiding for a week and, when he came out, he did not attempt to de-escalate the situation. Instead, he insulted the protesters and Canadians who did not agree with him. That is what happened.
The called them racists and misogynists. He even said that their point of view was unacceptable. That happens often in the House. Every time somebody says something the Prime Minister does not entirely agree with, it is instantly clear that he finds it unacceptable.
As far as I know, more than half of Canadians did not vote for him in the last election. However, they are still Canadians, and they are entitled to their opinion. They are Canadians who expressed their views and still have the right to do so. Voting against the Prime Minister is acceptable.
I have heard opinions from everywhere, in my riding, on social media, over the phone and in emails. We received a lot of emails this week. The people expressing their views are our neighbours, our constituents. They are Canadians who want to make their voices heard and who should be able to do so. However, since the Prime Minister does not agree with them and does not like their opinion, he simply decided not to listen to them.
The stigmatizes and divides Canadians every chance he gets. We know that he refused to meet with any of the truckers or their representatives. He did not discuss their concerns with them. He did not even apologize for the insults he hurled at all the protesters outside and right here in the House.
Apologies are not for people who do not agree with him. He ignored what people have to say and waited for the crisis to get worse and worse and worse. He could have done something. He had plenty of tools at his disposal.
The first tool is himself. As Prime Minister and head of state, he could have listened to Canadians. The first tool he could have used is himself as head of state. He chose to act like a petty politician. Instead of listening, he chose to give himself more power, to expand the government's powers. That was a bad decision. The Prime Minister's leadership in this case has been deplorable.
This week, he even said, and I quote: “Invoking the act is never the first thing a government should do, nor the second. The act is to be used sparingly and as a last resort.”
No one thinks that the Prime Minister used even the first, second, third or fourth options. He has not convinced anyone of the need to invoke the Emergencies Act when almost every expert, analyst and police chief said that they had all the tools they needed.
The provincial premiers said the same thing more than once. They said that they were able to manage the situation and asked the federal government not to throw fuel on the fire by invoking the Emergencies Act. That is what happened.
How did the go from totally ignoring the protesters directly to invoking the Emergencies Act?
We hope that history will tell, because the Prime Minister and his ministers will not, and, unfortunately, the current crisis was the direct result of the Prime Minister’s lack of leadership.
The Conservatives proposed an option, a reasonable approach. We asked the Prime Minister to present a plan to announce the lifting of the vaccine mandates, a plan to end the health measures. That was not unreasonable. All of the provinces, all of the other governments in Canada are doing that.
Unfortunately, the dug in and chose to do nothing, to ignore his experts. He should not be surprised to learn today that the protesters and Canadians are fed up with his lack of leadership. That is the reality we find ourselves in today. The Prime Minister prefers to do whatever he wants and continues to refuse to present a plan.
The government should not have the power to close Canadians’ bank accounts. The government should not have to invoke the Emergencies Act when there are other tools to resolve situations like the one that exists in Ottawa right now.
The failed. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister will be judged, not by us, but by generations of Canadians to come.
Mr. Speaker, I would begin by reminding our friends across the aisle that we are in the middle of a pandemic and our friends to our right that I would like to hear myself speak.
The pandemic has claimed victims. Some have died, while others are struggling with very serious health problems. Some people are living in a state of anxiety. Some people saw their purchasing power markedly decline because of the inflationary impact of the pandemic, whether it be permanent or temporary, structural or cyclical. Seniors were hit hard by the pandemic, as were the health care systems in Quebec and the provinces.
Of course, handling unusual and unprecedented situations sometimes involves trial and error. We try things that do not immediately work, and sometimes this approach, these trials and errors, can sow doubt. I understand. That is the case for the health restrictions, for the health measures around vaccination and the regulations that required, as well as for the travel restrictions. That is reasonable and understandable.
The answer to all this is, and should always be, information, even if that does not always work and the dissemination of good information remains relative. Unfortunately, the management of the pandemic was undermined by the federal government’s obsession with taking over Quebec’s and the provinces’ powers, imposing conditions outside its jurisdiction, and even subjecting the pandemic to multicultural values.
All of this does make things more difficult to understand. It creates confusion among Quebeckers and Canadians when what we need is quality information. It is also what led to the opposition that emerged in the forms we have been seeing in recent weeks. Fear, doubt and opposition to a government’s ideas and policies are legitimate. Protesting to express them is legitimate. Sedition and insurrection are not legitimate.
Is refusing treatment legitimate?
Is endangering other people’s lives by refusing treatment or vaccination legitimate?
Yesterday, I voluntarily went for my third shot. I was free to do so, and in so doing I was protecting and helping bring back freedom for other, more fragile, people, especially those in seniors residences, who are awaiting the day when they can feel safe enough to leave the house.
Freedom requires striking a balance between individual and collective freedoms. Doing this requires judgment, and that is not currently on display in all parties. Freedom is a test of leadership, the test of freedom. The Prime Minister failed this test because of ideology. He sought to subjugate collective and individual freedoms, to crush the identity of a nation under that of all nations, to deny the nation and talk of a postnational state. He is continuing the work of his father. He is denying Quebec, he is completing the transformative work of trivializing the Quebec nation.
Speaking of freedom, that was the purpose of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the charter of individual rights, the charter that denies French, secularism and the freedom of education, the one that seeks to censor social networks. Though they are an alarming cesspool of profanity these days, they remain a place of free expression, except for hate propaganda. The charter denies collective rights, the collective identity and the nation. Naturally, the Prime Minister stands up for individuals and then he drops the ball.
Freedom is becoming “freedumb”. Driven by fear, doubt and insufficient information, freedom is taking on the appearance of right-wing extremism, which condones anything in excess, encourages civil disobedience, flirts with violence and pollutes social media—and yet the Prime Minister continues to drag his feet. It is in his nature to actively do nothing in times of crisis. It is part of his ideology to show contempt for differences and fan the flames of division. He just does not get it.
Ottawa is under siege. The flag of 's country is now being associated with the worst of the worst. He needs to take action, but, as usual, he does not know how, so he pretends to take action. He puts on a show. He deflects people's attention, covers up his failures, and moves a motion that is as heavy-handed as it is useless, a thinly disguised version of the War Measures Act. Thank heavens, it is a watered-down version of the original.
The Prime Minister keeps repeating that the charter freedoms are not being infringed upon. If the Emergencies Act did not infringe on any freedoms, it would not exist. By its very nature, it infringes on freedoms. The Prime Minister's role is not to deny that the act infringes on freedoms but to justify it and explain why it is being used.
The Emergencies Act was not needed for the Ambassador Bridge, not needed for the border in Coutts, not needed for the seizure of weapons in Coutts, and not needed in Quebec. Ironically, Quebec does not want the Emergencies Act enforced on its territory, but the Sûreté du Québec has been called in for backup in Ottawa. They should put that in their pipe and smoke it.
The Prime Minister is saying that the act will be enforced geographically, but that is not how it works. He can say it as much as he wants, but that is not how it works. This is a Canadian act, in keeping with Canadian tradition. As with other traditions, the copy is always a poor imitation of the original.
The Quebec National Assembly wants nothing to do with this act, nor does the Government of Quebec. Obviously, the Bloc Québécois is not in favour. Conservatives in Quebec are not in favour, either. I am meeting with the NDP leader this afternoon to discuss. Could there be some way for us to come to an understanding?
Only the Ottawa Liberals want it, because the ones from Quebec do not. If Ontario wants this act, that does not make it useful. This could all have been done differently, but that falls on them. Quebec obviously wants nothing to do with it.
The Prime Minister has failed the test of collective freedom. On this, he has a sorry record. He often fails the test of freedom. He abandoned Raif Badawi. He has ignored the Uighurs. He is complicit with Spain against Catalonia. He sneers at Quebec's linguistic aspirations. He sneers at Quebec's secular aspirations. He sneers at freedom of expression and education if it is not in line with what he thinks and says. He starves provinces that do not meet his conditions with respect to health care. Even in security matters, the Prime Minister acts first and foremost by interfering, by grabbing powers that do not belong to him and by intervening in ways that, despite what he says, are not warranted as things now stand. All of Canada, except for the crisis in Ottawa that he himself engineered, sees this.
He has failed the test of freedom of expression, because he has yielded the word “freedom” to his worst enemies: the far right and, more importantly, ignorance. Freedom is a progressive value; freedom is a national value; freedom is a Quebec value; freedom thrives on truth.
Vaccination is a tool of freedom. It is imperfect, of course, but it remains the least bad solution. The sooner we accept it, the sooner all the health measures can be lifted.
Worse, by his failure, he has abandoned the sick to manage a crisis that is completely of his own making.
As for me, I will always defend freedom, especially the freedom of my nation. Quebec is free to make its own choices.
Mr. Speaker, this is a critical moment in our history. In a few weeks, we will enter the third year of this pandemic. Canadians are tired, tired of a pandemic that has created so much loss and such sacrifice for so many. Canadians are frustrated, frustrated that so many have found themselves worse off, while those at the very top have only increased their wealth and power. Many are afraid, afraid of the next wave, of the next variant. They are also afraid of the other crises we face: fires and floods caused by the climate change destroying their homes and livelihoods, losing those they love to a toxic drug supply and not being able to get the care they need or their loved ones need when they need it. However, neither fear, nor frustration nor fatigue has won over Canadians' fundamental desire to take care of one another.
We are here today, at this moment, because of a failure of leadership. People were abandoned by governments that argued over jurisdiction rather than helping people. People were abandoned because governments did not take this convoy and its impact on people seriously. They were abandoned by the police, some of whom stood with the occupiers and the occupation.
It should never have come to this. It should never have come to a point in time where thousands of workers lost their wages because of blockades at bridges and because of blockades of one of the busiest shopping centres in Ottawa, affecting retail workers, people who were already precariously employed. It should never have come to the point where residents, families and children were harassed, intimidated and terrorized by the convoy. It should never have come to this.
Many people are rightly concerned right now about the impact of the Emergencies Act and that it might crack down on protests in the future. What we are dealing with is not a protest. It is not peaceful. The organizers of this illegal occupation have been clear from the beginning. They have not shied away from this; they have been brazen about it. They came here to overthrow a democratically elected government. It is a movement funded by foreign influence and it feeds on disinformation. Its goal is to disrupt our democracy.
We share the concern of many Canadians that the government may misuse the powers in the Emergencies Act, so I want to be very clear: We will be watching. We will withdraw our support if at any point we feel these powers ae being misused. I have been at many protests and strikes, and I have witnessed the full and brutal power of the police being used against peaceful protesters. I therefore want to make this clear as well: Indigenous land defenders, climate-change activists, workers fighting for fairness and any Canadian using their voice to peacefully demand justice should never be subject to the Emergencies Act. The New Democrats will never support that.
What has become very clear in this crisis is that there also needs to be a serious examination of policing in Canada. Occupiers get hugs from the police while indigenous and racialized protesters are met with the barrel of a gun. There are several very troubling accounts of current and former law enforcement and military members involved in these occupations. One of the requirements of the Emergencies Act is that after its invocation, there is a public inquiry into its use. This must include a full public inquiry into the role of law enforcement in these occupations, both in their support of the occupiers and, in many case, in their refusal to enforce the law.
The use of the Emergencies Act is tantamount to an admission of defeat on the government's part. It should never have come to this. The crisis situation in Ottawa now calls for further action to prevent grave outcomes. We take the invocation of the Emergencies Act very seriously. Nobody wants to see the kind of thing that happened in 1970.
Many people remember the War Measures Act in 1970, the random arrests and the army being deployed in the streets of Montreal. Many people are worried the same thing could happen again. I understand that. That is why the Emergencies Act must be used judiciously and prudently.
We have been assured that there is no plan to call in the army and that the rights set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms will be upheld. That means arbitrary arrest and seizure will not be justified under the act.
The NDP believes there is currently no justification for the use of emergency measures in Quebec. We want the Prime Minister to guarantee that emergency measures will be used only where they are truly necessary. The NDP is prepared to use the mechanisms at its disposal to revoke the government's powers at a moment's notice. We are not giving the government carte blanche, and we will be keeping a close eye on it to make sure it does not overstep.
In the last few weeks, we have heard a lot about divisions in our country. That division, sadly, has been fed and amplified by members of the House. That has to end. Using a pandemic as a political wedge to score points off opponents to try to win a leadership race or an election is wrong and, frankly, dangerous. This virus does not care who we voted for. Wearing a mask is not a partisan activity. Vaccines save lives, and the vast majority of Canadians and members of Parliament know this and have supported vaccination efforts. We cannot let Canadians' trust in science and public health be eroded by political opportunism.
The pandemic is changing, and our response has to change as well. Restrictions are being lifted. We need a plan to get out of the pandemic, to get to the end of the pandemic, a plan based on science and our fundamental responsibility to take care of one another. Canadians who have done everything asked of them now want to know what to do next. Canadians have followed the rules, but they need to believe that restrictions are fair and make sense. We know that things can change quickly. New variants may appear and evidence may change. However, without a clear plan, confusion, disinformation and resentment grow.
We believe that a plan to get to the end of the pandemic, to get us out of this pandemic, has to include the urgent repair of our health care system so that people can get care when they need it. It has to include finishing the job of vaccination, especially of our children. We have to make sure there is global access to vaccines so we avoid future variants and waves of infection, and we have to move forward on solving the problems this pandemic has only made worse.
The reality is that working people have paid the price of this pandemic. While big companies took government money and gave out shareholder dividends and CEO bonuses, frontline workers got sick because they had to work without sick leave. Parents struggled to keep their kids at home while schools were closed, and big box stores stayed open.
People are right to be angry that life has only gotten harder over these past two years, and that it is almost impossible to buy a home to keep a roof over one's head or to rent a decent place to live because wealthy speculators are driving up the cost of housing. People are right to be angry that the cost of groceries goes up to feed the profits of wealthy corporate grocery stores. People are right to be angry that they work hard and pay their taxes, but that the superwealthy and big businesses do not pay their fair share. People are right to be angry that their lives have become harder, while the superwealthy and powerful have only added to their wealth and power.
I am angry too, and when I get angry, I fight. I learned long ago that my anger and my fight are not with the powerless. People's anger and their fight are not with Canadians. They are with those at the very top: the powerful who have built a system rigged against working people.
We can change this, but only if we come together to fight for a Canada that does not leave people behind while others profit. The story of this pandemic is not one of division. It is one of solidarity. It is a story of frontline health care workers showing up day after day in impossible situations. It is a story of grocery workers, farmers and truckers keeping us fed. It is of teachers doing their best to connect with children through screens. Our story is of neighbours helping each other get vaccinated, and helping each other when they are in need.
We will not let the past few weeks define the pandemic for us. Canadians have sacrificed too much, lost too many loved ones and missed out on too many moments to allow our country to become divided by hate and violence. People should not let their anger turn into hatred. We know hatred is like a fire. When it is allowed to grow, it will consume everything.
As I hold my daughter, I often think about the world I want for her. I want her to walk through the world without fear. I want her to always feel like she belongs. I do not want her to face the same struggles I have. I believe this is what we all want for our children. My hope is that our decisions in the coming days are guided by this desire to build a better, safer and more just world where all of our children believe they belong.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the .
I am pleased and honoured to rise today to speak to the invocation of the Emergencies Act by our government and to the motion in this House to affirm the government's decision, but I also do so with a deep sense of obligation.
Canada is a rule-of-law country. By declaring a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act, we followed the law and we are acting within it. There are clear conditions set out in the Emergencies Act in order for a public order emergency to be declared. Our government believes those conditions have been met and that those same conditions required the Government of Canada to act.
The Emergencies Act was enacted in 1988 to replace the War Measures Act. There are two significant differences between the two acts. One, the Emergencies Act contains a number of limits and safeguards, including a parliamentary review. Two, the measures taken under the act are subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I want to reiterate this point. The preamble to the Emergencies Act states, “And whereas the Governor in Council, in taking such special temporary measures, would be subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights and must have regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, particularly with respect to those fundamental rights that are not to be limited or abridged even in a national emergency”. Any and all of our government actions will be subject to the charter, and it is my job as Attorney General to ensure this. I take that responsibility incredibly seriously. There is, therefore, a further check in the parliamentary oversight process as well.
The Emergencies Act can only be invoked in specific serious circumstances that amount to a national emergency. In order to meet the threshold for a national emergency, three conditions must be met: First, we must be in a situation that either “seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians... [and exceeds] the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it, or seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada”. Second, the provinces' and territories' capacity to handle the situation must be considered insufficient or show gaps. Third, we must conclude that the situation cannot be handled adequately under any other Canadian law, including provincial or territorial laws.
Our government believes these conditions were met, and yesterday we tabled an explanation of the reasons for issuing the declaration, as required by the act. We also tabled yesterday, as required, a report on any consultation with the provinces with respect to the declaration. I would especially like to highlight the support of British Columbia, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador, as noted in the document invoking the act to respond to this national emergency.
Once an emergency is declared, the Emergencies Act allows the federal government to make the necessary orders and regulations to intervene.
Our government respects Canadians' rights and freedoms, which are protected by the charter. We intend to use only necessary, reasonable and measured powers to resolve this crisis quickly and safely, in accordance with section 1 of the charter.
As members have seen, our government has introduced targeted orders under the act. While the act technically applies to all of Canada, we have been very careful to tailor orders to be as focused as possible, and only in those places affected by blockades and illegal occupations will we see any change at all.
We have introduced measures to bring the situation under control. They include temporary regulation and prohibition of public assemblies that lead to a breach of the peace and go beyond lawful protest; the situation in Ottawa and blockades at certain border crossings have gone far beyond lawful protest.
They also include temporarily designating and securing places where blockades are to be prohibited. These places could include borders, approaches to borders, critical infrastructure, hospitals and democratic institutions.
These measures also include temporarily directing persons to render essential services to relieve impacts of blockades on Canada's economy. These persons could include tow trucks and their drivers—for compensation, of course.
The measures include temporarily authorizing or directing financial institutions to render essential services to relieve the impact of blockades, including regulating and prohibiting the use of property to fund or support the blockades.
They include temporarily enabling the RCMP to enforce municipal bylaws and provincial offences where required, and finally, temporary imposition of fines or imprisonment for contravention of any order or regulation made under section 19 of the Emergencies Act.
These are extraordinary times. The Government of Canada is committed to respecting and protecting individual rights while maintaining public order. This includes all of the measures taken by the Government of Canada in accordance with the Emergencies Act, including any orders, regulations or actions of government representatives.
I want to repeat what I previously stated: It is my responsibility and my commitment as Attorney General of Canada to ensure that all steps taken by our government are consistent with the charter, as required by the act.
The Emergencies Act also contains a number of significant limits, checks and safeguards. As required by the act, on several occasions over the past week, the and members of cabinet consulted with the premiers and members of their respective governments. Having now declared a public order emergency, we tabled the declaration in Parliament, as required, within seven days. In fact, we did so as quickly as possible, well before the seven days, tabling the declaration yesterday for discussion today so that Parliament could perform its important oversight role.
In the coming days, a parliamentary committee will be struck to provide oversight while the emergency is in effect. This declaration only lasts for 30 days, unless renewed. However, we can revoke the emergency much sooner, and we sincerely hope to do so.
Parliament has the power to revoke an order, which ensures that any measures taken will be responsible and measured and will comply with the established limits.
Orders must be tabled in Parliament within two days for review by parliamentarians, as was done yesterday, and Parliament has the power to amend or revoke any order made under the act.
In closing, I want to address two critiques of the official opposition. They say this declaration is unnecessary, that the illegal blockades and occupations are ending. I say to look outside. They are not. I say look at the streets of Winnipeg. The ones that have ended did so after the announced we were moving to declare a public order emergency. We are achieving what we intended to achieve with these measures and we are doing it in a most measured and responsible way.
We have seen, further, how fluid the situation is. Since we declared this emergency, we have seen other potential blockades stopped. We want law enforcement to have the necessary tools for a limited time to ensure we do not have a repeat of any of the blockades.
The official opposition is talking about rights. On this side of the House, we take rights seriously, and so did the Progressive Conservative government that introduced the Emergencies Act and ensured it was charter compliant. That was the right thing to do.
We are invoking this act to end illegal blockades and occupations. We are invoking it to restore the rights of those who cannot walk safely on the streets of downtown Ottawa. We are invoking it to protect the rights of workers to earn a living, of businesses to serve the public, of people to move freely across international borders.
Let us not confuse illegal blockades and occupations with lawful protests. We know what a lawful protest looks like. It does not look like what is happening on Wellington Street, or what transpired in Coutts or in Emerson. We have declared a public order emergency to help law enforcement deal with these issues quickly and to protect us from having them happen again.
Our goal is to see order restored and to see this emergency declaration lifted as soon as possible.
Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to have the opportunity to rise today as the Minister of Emergency Preparedness to speak to the importance and necessity of the motion before the House.
Let me also acknowledge that the fact we are all in this House, that elected representatives from across Canada have come to debate this important measure, is evidence of the strength and resiliency of our democratic institutions. Although the subject of today's debate is a solemn one, I think it is also evidence that should give us strength, resolve and hope.
Let me begin my remarks by acknowledging the impact that these blockades and demonstrations have had on Canadian citizens, particularly the people of Ottawa who have been subject to intimidation and threats. The disruption of the course of their lives is, frankly, unacceptable.
Among the most important freedoms that we covet and protect in this country are freedom of opinion, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, lawful peaceful protest. It has also been said that one's freedom to swing their fists ends at the end of another's nose. What we have seen, unfortunately, over the past three weeks is that those rights have been exceeded and abused to the point that it has put Canadians in harm's way.
I also want to speak briefly about the impact of the blockades that were taking place at vital trade corridors in this country, our international borders. When the protesters decided to go to our borders, we need to recognize and acknowledge they were going for the throat. They were going to cut off the supply of goods and services that our country relies on.
When they stopped parts from coming across that border at the Ambassador Bridge, they shuttered factories and they idled workers. They damaged the reputation of Canada as a safe and stable place to invest. They hurt Canadians. It was clearly their intent. It is clearly what they were doing, and it had to stop.
We saw the same targeted approach to hurt Canadian interests and to harm their fellow citizens in Coutts, Alberta; in South Surrey, British Columbia; in Emerson; at the Ambassador Bridge; and a number of fakes at other border points. This was not by accident. They did not just wander into those spaces. They went for the throat of this country. They created an emergency, an emergency that we had to respond to.
For the first time, we have come to the difficult decision to invoke the authorities of the Emergencies Act. I want to assure the House from the very outset that our government recognizes the significance of this decision, and the heavy responsibility that would come with pursuing it, not just the responsibility of the government but of the House.
We approached the process with caution and with care. It was essential that we explored all options available to us. We looked at everything very closely. We looked at our existing legislation. We looked at the regulations with the support of our Department of Justice officials to see what additional federal supports would be required. We examined existing municipal, provincial and federal authorities.
I think it is rather evident the threat of parking tickets did not deter those trucks in Ottawa. The threat of the enforcement of Ontario's Highway Traffic Act did not deter those commercial carriers from coming down our highways and using their vehicles, which are licensed under that legislation, to cause harm to Canadians. It has also become clear that with the limitations, even of the authorities enshrined within federal law and the Criminal Code, our law enforcement officials were struggling.
I will give two examples that I hope will be helpful to Parliament in consideration of the necessity for these measures.
One of the challenges that our law enforcement officials had was this, and it was not just our law enforcement officials but those who are tasked with gathering and analyzing financial intelligence through FINTRAC. Unfortunately, the funding associated with these actions, which in many cases have been clearly criminal and harmful to Canadians, was opaque. It became very clear when our officials came to us that they did not have the tools they needed to provide the necessary and appropriate scrutiny of the source of that funding, and that they did not have the tools to bring the accountability and even the consequences that were required in doing their jobs. We listened to what they needed. Ontario, for example, declared an emergency and brought forward really important and useful regulations, but they could not do that because it was our responsibility. We considered that and we listened.
Another example that may sound trivial, but was significant, relates to jurisdictions right across the country. I heard from my counterpart and colleague, the minister responsible in Alberta, who for weeks had been asking for help to get tow trucks down to Coutts, Alberta, to haul those trucks away. However, the tow truck industry in Alberta, like in Ontario, like right across the country, as a result of threats and intimidation were afraid to do their jobs. We needed that equipment. We needed those drivers. We needed their ability to remove those vehicles, but they were intimidated and afraid, so we have brought forward in these measures the authority not to compel them but to really authorize them to do what we all need to be done.
I submit to all those here that these measures work. People who knew the gaps in our laws and our law enforcement's response were exploiting them. When we closed those gaps, they went to school. We saw evidence of that in Coutts.
I do not want to minimize the importance of the RCMP investigation. By the way, I am not going to comment on any of the aspects of their investigation or the prosecution that will follow. It is totally inappropriate for a minister to do so. However, I want to thank them for doing their job. I want to thank God that they were able to do it safely.
That eliminated part of the threat at Coutts, but when we announced on Monday that we were coming for the source of their funding and that there were going to be real consequences, financial consequences for their actions, they scurried away. That is exactly what we needed them to do. They did exactly the same thing in Emerson, Manitoba. Even though we saw yesterday in Windsor that some of them were going back because that is the way they can most effectively attack this country, they were stopped. They were stopped by effective law enforcement.
We have brought forward these measures, but let me also assure all my colleagues in this House that these measures must always be charter-compliant. Our expectation is that our law enforcement officials will do their job, the job we all need them to do, but they will always do it mindful of their responsibility to uphold the rule of law, to effect their lawful purpose with a minimum of force and to do the work right.
I also want to assure this House that we will be there to support them. When they say they need tools, we will give them the tools to do the job. When they say they need resources, we will provide those resources to do the job.
Every order of government and every person in this House has a responsibility to stand up with resolve and determination and to do what is necessary to protect Canada's interests.
Madam Speaker, unlike the and ministers across the aisle, it actually gives me no pleasure to rise to speak to the matter at hand. The invocation of the Emergencies Act earlier this week, for the first time in Canadian history, is a significant moment and it is not a moment to be pleased about. It is a solemn moment. It is a moment when we have to ask ourselves, how did we get to this situation in the first place? When we examine the evidence of how we got to this situation, I do not think there is much for the government to be proud of.
The Conservatives thoughtfully considered the justifications, written in law and given by the government, for the enacting of the Emergencies Act. The government has based its justification on one provision: that a public order emergency exists throughout Canada. This claim is not supported by the evidence. Yes, we have seen border blockades in at least four provinces and we have seen a persistent protest in Ottawa that has now been declared illegal. However, before the Emergencies Act was invoked, the blockades at the borders and across Canada were lifted or were well into the process of being lifted, so the government trying to claim credit after the fact is completely absurd. The Emergencies Act is now being used solely for the purpose of addressing the situation in Ottawa, not throughout Canada as defined by the act.
A key part of the threshold for enacting these measures is that existing laws and capabilities have proven insufficient for dealing with the problem. Existing laws are well equipped to deal with these situations. They were well equipped to deal with the situation at Coutts, Emerson and the Ambassador Bridge, and I submit they are well equipped to be used here in Ottawa.
The and the said earlier that they were required to pass this so they could requisition essential services like tow trucks. However, it has been noted by many that under the Criminal Code, police already have the authority to requisition such services, under pain of criminal sanction. That was before the Emergencies Act was brought in, so this argument that the Emergencies is necessary is completely absurd.
I note that I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from .
The police already had the power to compel many of these services. The police already had the power to be coordinated with the RCMP, the OPP and the various police forces and national security forces throughout Canada. They have measures existing under the Criminal Code, such as mischief and intimidation, to be used against illegal protesters and blockades.
The government has used an argument where it is citing potential acts and threats of violence against Canadians and critical infrastructure. This is not just any violence, the Liberals are saying; this is violence intended for the furtherance of an ideological and political objective. I am very concerned with the language that the government is beginning to use, because that language is very similar to the language under terrorism laws. The definition of terrorism is the use of violence to advance a political or ideological agenda. The government is using terrorism legislation against Canadian protesters.
There is very little evidence that there was a serious threat to persons and critical infrastructure from these protests. There was a short-term risk, but it was dealt with by law enforcement.
An hon. member: What about those assaults outside?
Mr. Dane Lloyd: I will address the member's heckle.
I am very concerned about the situation that occurred around Coutts, Alberta, where a small group of militants was arrested with firearms and with the intent to do harm. I am so thankful for law enforcement's efforts in taking down this very real threat, and I am so confident in our law enforcement because I know they had been planning this operation for weeks. They had likely infiltrated this group. They had a plan in place and had the appropriate tools and expertise to deal with this dangerous situation and defuse it before it became a very real and dangerous situation. The fact is that they did this before the imposition of the Emergencies Act.
Clearly, they have the tools. This completely undermines the government's argument that it is justified because the tools were insufficient to deal with the problems. The tools have been sufficient. The threshold has not been met.
I want to address some comments that have been made by the government. At a press conference, the stated very clearly and definitively that there is a connection between the militant faction at Coutts and protesters here in Ottawa. He declined to provide any evidence to back up that assertion. He was asked repeatedly by the media to back up that claim and he failed. His only evidence was to cite social media posts and a general tone that has been seen in protests across Canada.
The government has been very quick to label protesters and anyone who would oppose its political agenda. In 2021, even before the protests began, the called people who opposed mandatory vaccinations racists and misogynists, among other epithets. Since the beginning of the protests, the government has sought to brand and label all protesters as fringe extremists with “unacceptable views”. Despite this unrelenting scrutiny and rhetoric, there has still been no evidence of violent extremists in Ottawa. If there were, I do not know how the government could believe it is being responsible in allowing us all to be here today, walking the streets of Ottawa. It undermines the whole claim.
There is no evidence of a plot to violently overthrow the Canadian government, despite constant repetition in saying so. I remember a quote by a previous Liberal minister, who said that if we tell a lie big enough and loudly enough, people will totally believe it. The government is constantly saying things that it does not have the evidence to back up. I would like to see that evidence if it is there. We deserve to see that evidence.
This act was not designed or intended to crack down on peaceful protesters, even if they are protesting illegally. We have other laws to deal with that. The government is citing a so-called terrorist threat. However, although having protesters in Ottawa is very inconvenient and terrible for the people of downtown Ottawa, honking horns does not meet the threshold of a terrorist organization. The government knows that.
Without further evidence of a violent threat, I cannot in good conscience support the invocation of the Emergencies Act. Even if I were to accept that the government has met the threshold for calling on emergency powers, I would still have serious reservations about the powers the government has said it needs for dealing with this situation. If it believes there is a threat to critical infrastructure and persons, which it has said, and it shows evidence, I could support declaring Parliament Hill and certain sensitive areas as no-go zones. I could accept that we need better coordination between the RCMP and local police. However, what I cannot accept is the government's need to undermine section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees Canadians a right against unreasonable search and seizure and having their bank accounts frozen.
The , while on a panel last night, said that anyone who is part of a so-called pro-Trump organization should be worried. I think all Canadians should be worried when a Minister of Justice threatens people because of their political views. That is not the Canada that any of us want to see and it is unacceptable.
Throughout this debate, which we are going to be having over the next number of days, Canadians will know that their official opposition is alive and well. We are prepared to stand up for Canadians' rights. We are prepared to hold the government accountable. We are going to keep fighting. We are not going to stop standing up for the rights and freedoms of Canadians.
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for agreeing to share his time with me.
It is very important for Canadians to understand that the government's proposal to invoke the Emergencies Act is in no way connected to public safety, restoring order or upholding the rule of law. We know this because we know what it has done with previous protests and blockades. When the agrees with the aims of protesters, he does nothing. Actually, it would be unfair to say he does nothing. He does nothing to end the blockades, but he will send negotiators, who send government delegations to meet with protesters and even propose settlements and compromises when he agrees with the political aims of those protesting.
We know this because in 2020, anti-energy protesters, and anti-oil and gas protesters held up vital transportation links for weeks. At the time, the had a much different tone. Let us look at what he said when vital transportation links and rail lines were blockaded, crippling the Canadian economy for weeks at a time. He said, “Therefore, we are creating a space for peaceful, honest dialogue with willing partners.” Compare that to the rhetoric and inflammatory language that he has used over the past several weeks in 2022.
Make no mistake, the protests that are happening in Ottawa and have taken place across the country are a direct result of the 's actions and rhetoric, and the demonization of people who are fighting to get their rights back. Canadians have had two years of incredible hardship, of politicians and government agencies telling them they were not allowed to have family members visit them inside their own homes, of governments telling business owners that they had to keep their doors shut and their employees laid off, of people not being able to use the various support systems they have had in their lives, such as relying on friends and family. Gyms were closed and activities for children were cancelled.
After two years of this, just as there is hope on the horizon, as other jurisdictions around the world and even here in Canada were lifting restrictions and easing mandates, the added a new one. He added a new restriction after two years of telling truck drivers that they were essential services and that they would be allowed to travel across the border to bring vital goods to our markets. After two years of deeming them an essential service, just as there was hope and reasons to lift restrictions and mandates, the Prime Minister added a new one without any data or evidence to back it up.
Then people started objecting to this. They were finally saying that enough is enough, they want their freedoms back, and it is time for the government to retreat back to the normal boundaries of government interference in their lives. When people started doing that, gathering to peacefully protest against government overreach, what did the do? He called them names and tried to smear them with broad brushes. He called them racists and misogynists. He asked the rhetorical question of whether or not we should tolerate these people. I would like to ask the Prime Minister this question: What does not tolerating these people look like? What he has done over the past few weeks has been shameful.
The has lowered the office in which he serves to unprecedented depths. In my 17 years of being a member of Parliament, I have never seen a prime minister or, for that matter, any other politician so debase the office that they hold, hurling insults at people and referring to a Jewish member of this House as standing with people waving swastikas. It is outrageous.
My hon. colleagues on the Liberal benches have often admonished their political opponents for even sharing the same postal code as someone who may be holding an offensive flag or a placard with unacceptable language on it. When Conservatives denounced that, it was not good enough for members of the Liberal Party. They say we are supposed to paint the entire group protesting with that broad brush, but they do not hold themselves to that same standard.
I see many hon. members across the way, some of whom I have served with. I know them to be honourable people. I do not assume that they are all racist because their leader has performed racist acts by putting on blackface so often in his life that he cannot remember how many times he has done it. We do not paint every single Liberal member of Parliament with that brush. They have no problem being photographed with the , despite his history of racist acts, neither should members of Parliament paint the entire group of people who are protesting for their freedoms with that same broad brush.
Let us look at the lengths to which the government goes, and indeed not just the government, but many of its friends in the corporate media, to paint every single person who is protesting and demanding an end to the restrictions and the mandates with that broad brush. They go to great lengths to discredit and dehumanize those people, who are just fighting for their traditional civil liberties.
We could look at this in two different groups. On the one hand, we have people who are saying that after two years of hardship, sacrifice, and being forced to comply with unprecedented government intrusion in their lives, with government telling them where to go and who they can have in their house, which is a level of government interference of the like we have not seen in recent Canadian history, after two years of that, they just do not believe they should be fired for making a health care decision.
On the other hand, there is a group of people who are saying that anybody who holds that view is a racist, a misogynist or an insurrectionist. There is a group of people who are saying that government should have the ability to tell people who they can have in their house, and whether or not their business is allowed to stay open.
Which group seems more unreasonable? I would say that after two years, those who are fighting against the government intrusion in their lives have a legitimate case to make. Whether or not we agree with them, we must respect their right to advocate for their views. The has not provided any legitimate justification for bringing in the Emergencies Act. He asks us to trust him. He says we should not worry, that the government is going to make sure everything is fine with the courts and that everything is compliant with the charter.
This is the same guy who fired his attorney general because she would not go along with his plans to interfere in a criminal court case. Pardon the members of the Conservative Party if we are not going to take the 's word that he is not going to abuse the power that he is granting himself.
He points to specific instances that the Conservatives denounced. We denounced the rail blockades in 2020 and we denounced the border blockades in 2022. We do not believe that the right to peacefully protest should mean the right to infringe on the freedoms and rights of other people. We raised that point in 2020, calling on the government to do something about the rail blockades when it was the anti-energy workers. By the way, there have been a lot of radical left-wing protests across the country where we could see all kinds of placards, including anti-Semitic placards and banners advocating violence against police officers, and we do not see the government rushing to crack down on those.
The government is talking about foreign funding. What about the foreign funding that is pouring into Canada by the hundreds of millions of dollars to help groups fight against energy projects and natural resource projects across the country? That did not seem to bother the government then. Now, all of a sudden, it says it has to do something about it.
It is a little like the scene in Casablanca when the inspector comes to Rick and says that he has to close the place down because there is illegal gambling going on, and then the croupier comes over and puts his winnings in his pocket. That is what the government is doing. For years, it has relied on foreign funding coming to help its allies in the political spectrum fight for its goals and fight against Canadians and their interests.
This is the exact same playbook that we have seen dictatorial governments use across the world. They dehumanize their opponents. They invoke threats of foreign influence. Let us remember, the Berlin Wall was ostensibly built to keep others out. Governments always talk about their good intentions when they take away rights and liberties. I am asking Canadians not be fooled by this.
I am asking members of the Liberal Party who actually believe in civil liberties, who actually do believe in the natural limits of government, to do—
Madam Speaker, as you know, the Conservatives and the Bloc are voting the same way, in other words against the Emergencies Act.
That being said, I would like to understand something. In 2012, 10 years ago, the student crisis took hold in Quebec. Of course, that crisis did not concern the federal government, but Conservative Party supporters said on the radio that it was time to get out the batons. They took a hard line.
During the Wet'suwet'en protests, the Conservatives said that they had gone on long enough, that it was time for forceful intervention. Once again, they took a hard line.
In 2020, the Bloc Québécois moved a motion calling on the Prime Minister to apologize to the victims of the War Measures Act in October 1970. Again, the Conservatives took a hard line and voted against our motion.
Now, we are facing the trucker crisis. As soon as the Conservative base is affected, suddenly the hard line is not so hard. It melted away as quickly as the polar ice cap is melting as a result of climate change, which, according to the Conservatives, does not exist. Why is that?
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
Today I rise to deliver what may be the most important speech I have given since having the privilege to serve the people of Kings—Hants in the House. Today, we as parliamentarians are debating whether the government's decision to invoke the Emergencies Act on Monday was justified. I submit, for my colleagues in the House and indeed all Canadians watching, that the threshold required to trigger the Emergencies Act has been objectively met and perhaps exceeded.
As the has said in the House, a decision of this nature is not taken lightly. However, the situation we have seen across the country is serious and warrants a response that is proportionate to the impact we have seen on all Canadians. Let me be very clear: I am in full support of legal protests in this country. It is a constitutionally protected right and, indeed, I have spoken with some of my own constituents who, in their own way, have demonstrated their displeasure with the government's protocols to date. However, we have to delineate between lawful protest and individuals who refuse to abide by the rule of law, who have occupied Ottawa and who have blockaded our key border crossings.
I believe it is incumbent on all of us to look at the facts and to try to be objective. We have seen a group of individuals in Ottawa occupy the city for three weeks now. This is despite orders from law authorities to disperse and to go home. The key organizers of the Ottawa occupation have openly espoused their goal of overthrowing the government, and of meeting with the Governor General to form a coalition.
We have had blockades across the country at key border crossings that have targeted the country's trade relationship, including at Windsor, Coutts and Emerson. At Coutts, the RCMP found weapons and body armour. How can one conclude that this was simply a peaceful protest?
The outlined to the House this morning what impact these were having across the country economically. There have been hundreds of millions of dollars a day in economic harm. Blocking of critical infrastructure and critical trade routes hurts everyday Canadians, and impacts our food security and our supply chain. There has been a targeted impact on the Ottawa International Airport, and the organizers of the “freedom convoy” have expressed their desire to re-establish blockades and occupations elsewhere, even if they are taken down by police.
We also know that these activities are being financed by international sources. I ask this, for members of the House: Do we, as parliamentarians, have a responsibility to take action on internationally financed assistance to organizers of activity that is not only illegal, but represents a threat to Canadian security and the rule of law? I, for one, believe we do. I want to be crystal clear. This is being done to target activities that are illegal and threatening the economic health of the country and the rule of law and order.
For those whose intent is to raise issues about government policy, I have no issue. For those who continue to be a part of illegal blockades here in Ottawa or elsewhere, they do not have the ability to do so. These measures are being implemented because of their unwillingness to abide by the law.
What is the public emergency order being invoked under the Emergencies Act? What does it actually mean? The Conservatives would have people believe that this government is limiting all freedoms. These measures do not take away freedoms. The Bloc members would suggest that this is akin to the War Measures Act, and are seeking to drum up memories of the FLQ crisis. This is not the War Measures Act. It is not taking away the rights of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and it is not calling in the army. This is a specific measure to give additional powers to police and provincial authorities to maintain law and order, to monitor financing, including from foreign sources, that is being used to block and undermine critical infrastructure, and to ultimately remove the blockades and occupations that exist across the country.
Let us examine the actual measures in the order. They include the regulation and prohibition of public assemblies that lead to a breach of the peace and go beyond lawful protest. I want to be clear: Lawful protest can continue. Designating and securing places for blockades are to be prohibited.
The measures also include directing persons to render essential services to relieve impacts of blockades on Canada's economy. This could include such things as tow trucks that could be requisitioned, of course for compensation, by government authorities to help with removing trucks and vehicles that are blockading key infrastructure.
They include authorizing or directing financial institutions to render essential services that relieve the impact of blockades, including regulating and prohibiting the use of property to fund and support the blockades that are undermining economic security in the country.
There are also measures enabling the RCMP to enforce municipal bylaw and provincial offences where required, and the imposition of fines under section 19 of the Emergencies Act.
I submit to the House that these measures are specific, time-limited and geographically focused. The measures will be overseen by a joint parliamentary committee and, of course, must be supported by a majority in the House to remain in force.
I previously mentioned that policing is in the domain of municipalities and the provincial government. Since day one, our government has worked, and continues to work, directly with municipal and provincial authorities and their law enforcement. We have answered calls for additional resources. We helped create integrated operations, and provided additional RCMP officers to try and deal with blockades.
Leading into Monday's decision, it was clear that the provincial and municipal authorities had been unable to address the situation. Ironically, members of the House were calling on us to show federal leadership. Some Conservatives, after openly encouraging illegal activity to continue, were asking the government to stop the blockades. These measures are designed to do exactly that.
My question to members in the House who are criticizing the government for making available time-limited tools under the Emergencies Act to support law enforcement is this. What intermediate step would they suggest the government should have undertaken? Beyond asking the to meet with individuals who fly flags that say, “F.U.C.K. Trudeau”, who want to overthrow a democratically elected government, and who have stated that they will not leave until their demands are met, what security measures would they have suggested this government should have undertaken? That is the key question. As my constituents have rightfully pointed out, it is easy to be an armchair critic, but I have yet to hear many constructive measures from the other side of the House on how to deal with the current situation.
I support the government's measures. They are reasonable, they are balanced and they are proportionate to the circumstances we have seen. They are focused on giving tools to police in jurisdictions across the country to resolve illegal blockades that are hurting everyday Canadians.
It is extremely important for all of us to remember that these are tools that are available. This order is in effect for 30 days. This is to make sure that we have the ability to address the circumstances that we have seen. I would hope that all members of the House believe that this is an important measure so that we can make sure that the blockades, the economic harm and, frankly, the lack of law and order that we have seen in certain elements in this country do not continue.
Madam Speaker, today's debate is crucial. I would like to address my remarks to all members of the House, of course, but also to Canadians right across the country.
The Canadian government declared a state of emergency this week. This decision was not made lightly, and for good reason. Invoking the Emergencies Act is not the first thing the Government of Canada should do, or even the second. It must be used as a last resort. However, it is clear that this tool is now necessary.
Illegal blockades set up across the country over the past three weeks have disrupted the lives of far too many Canadians. These blockades have caused significant damage to our economy and our democratic institutions. Canadian jobs and prosperity are at stake. The illegal actions that have been taken have shaken international confidence in Canada as good place to invest. We cannot stand by while the livelihoods of Canadians and workers are threatened, while businesses large and small are affected by these blockades across the country.
We cannot and we will not let Canada's reputation on the international stage be tarnished. That is why we are taking action. The emergency economic measures order will allow the government to take concrete steps and actions to stop the financing of the illegal blockades. The main objective of these measures is to limit the flow of money that is used to finance this unlawful activity and to prevent additional financial support. As the has said before, this is about following the money.
Two broad categories of financial measures are being enacted. The first are aimed at crowdfunding platforms and payment service providers, while the second will apply to Canadian financial service providers.
Let us look at the first one. Crowdfunding platforms and some payment service providers are not currently subject to the anti-money-laundering and anti-terrorist-financing laws in this country. It therefore stands to reason that they could be used to finance unlawful activities, such as the blockades we are seeing. To address this, the order extends the scope of Canada's anti-money-laundering and anti-terrorist-financing rules to cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment processors they use. Specifically, the entities that are in possession of any funds associated with the illegal blockades are now required to register with FINTRAC, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, and to report suspicious and large-value transactions of persons involved in the blockades. This will mitigate the risks that these platforms could be used to receive funds from illicit sources or to finance illicit activity.
The second group of measures directs our financial service providers to intervene when they suspect that an account belongs to someone participating in the illegal blockades. This means that banks, insurance companies and other financial service providers must now temporarily cease providing financial services and freeze accounts when they believe an account holder or client is engaged in illegal blockades. The order applies to all funds held in a deposit account, a chequing account or a savings account, and to any other type of property. This also includes digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies.
As a result, Canadian financial service providers are now able to immediately freeze or suspend an account of an individual or business affiliated with these illegal blockades and to do so without a court order. Financial service providers are also protected against civil liability for the actions they take to comply with the order.
Of course, these service providers are required to unfreeze accounts when the account holder stops assisting or participating in the illegal blockades.
With the emergency economic measures order, the government is also directing Canadian financial institutions to review their relationships with anyone involved in the illegal blockades. The order also gives federal, provincial and territorial government institutions new powers to share any relevant information with banks and other financial service providers if that information helps stop the funding of the illegal blockades and unlawful activities occurring here in Canada.
The vast majority of Canadians, those who are law-abiding and not involved in these illegal blockades, will see absolutely no difference. This order changes nothing for them. These measures are designed to stop the funding that enables illegal blockades. They are targeted and temporary. They will apply for 30 days and are aimed at individuals and businesses that are directly or indirectly involved in illegal activities that are hurting our economy and our people. These measures are necessary.
It is true that blockades are only happening in certain parts of the country, and we know that, but they are hurting the entire Canadian economy. It is also true that most areas of the country have not been where these unlawful activities have been occurring. However, the funding for these illegal acts is not just coming from the areas where the semi-trailers are parked; it is coming from everywhere.
Moreover, some individuals have crossed interprovincial borders to participate in these activities, which, I stress, are illegal. Our democratic institutions are under threat. The Canadian economy is under threat; peace, order and good government are under threat in Canada. This is unacceptable. We must end it, and we will end it.
The message is clear. From the finance perspective, if people are funding blockades that harm the Canadian economy, their bank account will be frozen. If people who fund blockades think they can get around the law by using cryptocurrencies, it will not work. If a company's truck is used in an illegal activity, the vehicle's insurance will be suspended and the company's bank accounts will be frozen.
Semi-trailers should be on our roads, not parked for weeks on end in front of Parliament. They should be delivering the goods and services that will grow our economy, not holding up traffic at border crossings or paralyzing our city centres.
That said, I remain optimistic. I remain optimistic knowing that the law will soon be restored and the blockades dismantled; that we will put this pandemic behind us while being there for each other; and that we can strengthen our economy not by honking horns, but through the hard work of our entrepreneurs, our small and large businesses, and through thoughtful and responsible economic policies.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time for remarks with the hon. member for South Surrey—White Rock.
It is an honour to rise on behalf of the citizens of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, not only in this House generally but in such important times. Sometimes we do forget what a tremendous honour it is. I am sad, though, to be here discussing emergency measures today. This has been a time, with respect, where the has inflamed, has incited and has divided.
The Prime Minister took that same inflammatory approach yesterday when he spoke in response to a question from the member for . I was dismayed that he did not apologize for that today. Instead, he came into this House this morning and doubled down on years of division, so let us recap. The predecessor legislation was invoked three times: World War I, World War II and the FLQ crisis.
The invites and likes Canadians to think that he is the common person. I am not sure if he has walked through downtown Ottawa of late, but I did yesterday and today. I saw trucks in streets. There were a few streets that were plugged and those trucks need to go, period. The question then becomes how that should be done.
I took an oath when I was sworn in. It was the greatest day of my life to take that oath on behalf of all Canadians and particularly on behalf of the residents of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. I took my oath to do my job to the best of my ability. I have to be satisfied as a legislator that the preconditions for this act have been met. That is my job. That is the oath I took and that is something that I take very seriously.
I read the act and I considered it. I actually had to read it twice. I have practised law for 14 years. I previously taught at a law school for a number of years, so when it came to my analysis of the act, I did what I taught my students to do. I went back to first legal principles, first statutory principles. We apply legal principles and statutory principles not because it is popular, not because we want the trucks to be cleared in any way possible, but because we here, the 338 of us, must apply the law.
After all, the has made the same remarks about the rule of law. He would not strip Canadians of citizenship just because it was popular, just because people may like it, but instead we must accede to the rule of law.
Let us apply the rule of law. Let us apply the legislation here. This legislation is clear. It says that its application must be the last resort. Members of the House have repeatedly asked what step one was. We hear crickets. What was step two? We hear crickets. The police were not even stopping people carrying jerry cans in. What was step three? We hear more crickets and a word salad. The official asked the to attend a meeting with all party leaders, with a view to bringing this matter to an end. By my count that was about 10 days ago. Again, we hear crickets.
Even without the Emergencies Act application, which is alive right now, protesters could be arrested under the current regime. There are laws about causing a disturbance, mischief and participation in these sorts of illegal activities. The Criminal Code is very clear on that and I am not even touching on the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. The trucks could be seized, incidental to arrest, as evidence. They could be seized with a warrant, all things that the police have at their disposal right here, right now, to address the very situation that the Emergencies Act says it will deal with as a last resort. These first resorts have not been addressed.
Let us next look at what was resolved without the use of the Emergencies Act: Coutts and the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor. Why? It is because the police had the powers to do so and used those powers. My point is this. The legislation says that we do not resort to its use unless it is absolutely necessary. What we have seen in these three instances I just mentioned is that it is not absolutely necessary and, as a legislator, I need to be convinced that the threshold has been met or I will not vote for such legislation.
I wish we could simply invoke legislation to make our problems go away. That is just not the case. It cannot be done as a measure of convenience. Let us not forget. This was not done during 9/11. This was not done during COVID. This was not done during railway blockades that had a crippling impact on our economy and economic consequences. This was not done throughout many protests throughout the country. This was not done when B.C. highways and rail were washed out due to recent flooding.
I recently received an inquiry from a constituent in the north Thompson area near Blue River in my riding. There have been protests in that area for years. Blue River is a small community. There has been violence, threats and blockades. I told that constituent what I am telling the House. The legislation is a last resort to be used in extraordinary circumstances of national emergency when nothing else will do.
As one of the members for Ottawa said earlier today, this has been going on for four weeks and I echo that sentiment. I understand that it has been going on for four weeks and those committing illegal activities need to stop. It has been going on for much longer in my riding and those people are asking the same questions.
In closing, I do agree with the on one point. He did say that he is trying to save jobs. Unfortunately, I would eliminate the plural. He is trying to save one job, his own, and that is not right.
Madam Speaker, it is a sombre time to be speaking in this House. It is a seminal time in Canadian history, in my view.
It is apparent to me that we seem to be living in two Canadas. There is the Canada of fear and division promoted by the current and the leader of the NDP, confirmed by their caucuses, but there is another Canada out there, a united and proud nation that has sacrificed and done without and suffered economically, physically and in their mental health condition. This is a Canada that is a bit worn out, plainly speaking, but still firmly patriotic and ready to take on whatever the future brings. These Canadians do not share the 's post-national narrative. They embrace the essence of Canada that they see themselves a part of, as the true north strong and free.
In our national anthem, we call out to God and we pray that he keep our land glorious and free. The truth is that Canada can only be glorious if it is free, meaning its people are free—free from tyranny, free from government abusing its awesome powers, with the government mindful of the responsibility and trust given to it in a representative democracy. Because the wants to dwell in the extreme, in the fringe and false narratives of what is happening during peaceful protests, I am choosing to address those other Canadians.
I remember the historical term “the two solitudes” in reference to impasses between anglophone and francophone people in Canada. Its meaning was meant to refer to a perceived lack of communication and, moreover, a lack of will to communicate. Here today we see history repeating itself with a lack of communication, but, more significantly, a lack of will to communicate between the present federal government and anglophone and francophone citizens alike.
The Emergencies Act is extraordinary legislation. “Extraordinary” means remarkable, exceptional, unusual and uncommon. The measures in this act are to be entered into reservedly, advisedly and with extreme caution. Through all the trials and tribulations of a newly created and burgeoning nation trying to unite coast to coast to coast, through other public health emergencies and through other civil unrest, the federal government saw fit to invoke the Emergencies Act and its precursor, the War Measures Act, only four times in our history. These extraordinary measures were used in World War I, in World War II, by a previous prime minister in the 1970s and by the current .
It was not invoked during the fears and protests around the Spanish flu. It was not invoked during the workers' strikes in the 1930s; during the crises in Oka, Ipperwash or Caledonia; during the aftermath of 9/11; during crippling national strikes affecting our supply chains or during the rail blockades or pipeline protests that negatively affected the Canadian economy. The list is long. The point is that when other methods and authorities exist to deal with serious disagreement, governments should use those methods and authorities. Government should not subjugate free people to abusive, wide-ranging, freedom-altering overreach.
A Liberal member earlier in this debate asked the how she would feel if this happened in her neighbourhood, in her riding. Well, it did happen in my neighbourhood and in my riding. It happened at one of the border crossings in South Surrey—White Rock. I received many reports on the ground about the activities there. I did get three complaints through social media calling the people involved the same outrageous, inflammatory names that the Liberal Party and the have been using. There were no complaints to my office.
On the other side, I have had overwhelming outpourings of support from my constituents because the supporting protests were meaningful to those in attendance, and even joyful in the hope for change. What kind of change? It was not necessarily a change in government, although that might happen in the next federal election, but most definitely a change in the federal government's approach.
In support of the right to protest the government's policies, actions and inactions, on two previous weekends vehicle after vehicle drove in a rolling loop around those border crossings and highways in South Surrey, with not hundreds but thousands of Canadians cheering them on from the sides of the roads and on highway overpasses. Those involved were vocal but peaceful, holding Canadian flags high, singing the national anthem, saying prayers and greeting others cheerfully, including the police. The result is that the border has been cleared, goods are flowing and police officers, using tools already at their disposal, were able to both show respect for the protesters and clear any impasses.
Why is the Emergencies Act needed now in my riding? It is not. The only distress being expressed right now from my riding is that the and his cabinet, having inflamed the situation, are showing disdain, are not even attempting to engage in dialogue and feel the only tool in their tool box is to take more power unto themselves.
I have heard from many civil enforcement officers, civil liberties scholars and lawyers on this subject. Collectively, they want me to remind the House that a public order event is not necessarily an emergency. We are down to a protest in a few blocks of downtown Ottawa. That is all. With some proper policing, the situation in Ottawa can be brought to a conclusion, as it has been elsewhere. Unlike some of the other events, in downtown Ottawa, our nation's capital, we are not at a U.S. border, so the protest does not affect imports and exports.
I am not sure who the leader of the NDP was referring to when he said, “Don't let your anger turn into hatred.” The has literally turned his back on a large segment of Canadian citizens, showing them nothing but derision and disdain, which only escalates and never de-escalates tension and disagreement.
I had occasion, early in my career, to attend advanced negotiation classes at Harvard Law School under the supervision of Professor Roger Fisher, the author of the acclaimed book Getting to Yes. There are necessary steps that should be taken in any conflict resolution, such as some form of engagement, de-escalation, respectful dialogue and looking to best alternatives to resolve the conflict. The only one the PM has employed has been described as the “nuclear option”.
I agree that we should never have arrived at this moment of looking like a failed nation state. We are looking this way due to weak and ineffective leadership. It is that simple. Why invoke this act now when it was not invoked all those times before? The federal government should be talking to and engaging with citizens to resolve this conflict by introducing a plan to get back to normal. Instead, we have seen the federal government demonize and insult our fellow Canadians. The must remember that they are all Canadians out there on Wellington Street, and a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. I am pretty sure I heard that somewhere before.
Instead of creating a plan, engaging in dialogue and looking for a peaceful solution, the is looking to invoke and stoke more fear and division. Countries around the world, and Canadians themselves at home, are looking at this situation and wondering if this is the Canada they have believed in patriotically, firmly and with a full heart for so long. The truth is that the and the government initiated these protests by Canadians by calling them down in the first place and then not dealing with the situation as it unfolded.
I think back to a former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party who went along with a former prime minister who invoked the War Measures Act for just the third time in Canadian history, and not during wartime. He voted for that War Measures Act. His name was Robert Stanfield. He later said that it was the greatest regret of his life that he voted with the government that day.
Edmund Burke is often quoted as saying that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Well, I stand against this measure with every fibre of my being. I will vote no. This is a free country. Its people should be free to protest and free to exercise their human rights, and we need to respect and engage them.