The House resumed consideration of the motion.
Mr. Speaker, I think it is pretty evident. Clearly the member opposite and members from the NDP are a little bit uneasy when we talk about the fact that this act's predecessor was the War Measures Act, because it was the NDP under Tommy Douglas who took a courageous stand against the use of the War Measures Act in the FLQ crisis. It is a piece there. The reason I bring this up is that the weight of those events should be a caution to all parliamentarians against making a decision to invoke an act like this lightly.
We have had numerous provincial politicians state that they do not support the use of the Emergencies Act. These include provinces such as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I., Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and my home province of Alberta. Numerous times over the past few days, the has said that using the Emergencies Act was not the first, second or third option. However, members on this side have asked many times what the first three options were, and we have yet to be given any concrete answers. In the absence of an answer, I am left to assume that step one was wait, step two was do nothing and step three was shift blame.
This is not the leadership Canadians expect or deserve. What we saw was a refusal by the to provide additional support to the Ottawa Police Service when they asked for it. In fact, on February 11, the Prime Minister stated that they had enough resources. A short three days later, on February 14, the Emergencies Act was invoked. What happened in those three days that dramatically changed everything? We have not been told that as parliamentarians.
In the past few days, my office has received hundreds of phone calls, and thousands of emails, on the use of the Emergencies Act. Many constituents shared with me their fears, their anxieties, their collective trauma and the sense of PTSD they had. They shared how they saw government overreach as a very scary precedent.
One constituent, Lindsay, wrote to me and said, “I continue to try and wrap my head around the fact of how we are here and why we are here. How have things gotten so out of control? I feel very fearful, anxious and upset with how our Prime Minister has been treating the people of this country. Both his actions and language are not in alignment with true Canadian values: peace, freedom or protection. He is continuously inflaming the situation and I cannot believe that I am living in fear in Canada”.
Many of the emails and calls that I had were from parents who were tearful because they felt afraid for their children. They felt like they had been ignored and left behind by the Liberal government. Another constituent, Tyler, wrote, “I wholeheartedly disagree with the Prime Minister's decision to invoke the Emergencies Act. I firmly believe that his decision is unjustified and an abuse of power. It only serves to instill more fear and further divide the citizens of this wonderful country.”
Upon reflection, from all the correspondence and phone calls I have received, it left me wondering if perhaps the may have forgotten or missed the point as to why so many Canadians were protesting right now. I will help, and lay it out simply for him. Many are frustrated with what they see as government overreach. If the Prime Minister thinks that a solution to that overreach is adding more overreach, he is woefully short-sighted.
It is worth noting that the border protests in Windsor, Emerson, Coutts and Surrey have all ended peacefully. They ended through negotiation with local law enforcement and precise local police action. They all ended before the Emergencies Act was invoked.
I think this is an important point to highlight. It is incredibly important. I think those on the Liberal benches should take some time to reflect on this point. The laws of our country, and the widespread respect of the rule of law, were ultimately enough to get the protesters blocking the border to move. Police did their job by enforcing the laws currently on the books, and the protesters went home.
I am a passionate believer in the rule of law. Everyday Canadians' respect for the laws that serve the cause of peace, order and good government is something that makes me incredibly proud of my country. Yes, there are some among the protesters who probably do not share that same feeling, but I think it would be worthwhile for the to reflect on how his dubious leadership has contributed to some of these events.
Trust in the rule of law breaks down when people stop believing the law is equal and equally applied to everyone. This includes politicians ignoring their own guidelines with regard to COVID restrictions, a Prime Minister who treats ethics violations as a minor inconvenience, conflict-of-interest violations, election-law infractions and a woman fired from cabinet because she refused to break the law. We are considering enacting a law that has previously been reserved for world wars and deadly terrorism, because the protesters will not respect the law—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mrs. Laila Goodridge: —and here they are on the other side, heckling me—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mrs. Laila Goodridge: Mr. Speaker, this is so inappropriate.
Mr. Speaker, I am rising here today, not to talk about the technicalities of the Emergencies Act but to discuss how we got here. How did we possibly get to the point where, after 34 years of governments not invoking the Emergencies Act, the current Liberal government feels it necessary to enact it now. Unfortunately, our country has experienced many dire situations in the past, yet those situations all came to a resolution without the unprecedented and dangerous step of invoking the Emergencies Act.
The 1990 Oka Crisis is one such example. During this crisis, protesters and the Quebec police engaged in a 78-day standoff. We witnessed gunfire exchanges. We mourned the tragic death of Mohawk elder Joe Armstrong and the tragic death of Quebec provincial police officer Corporal Marcel Lemay. Surely, violent deaths and gunfire could have warranted invoking the Emergencies Act, yet Prime Minister Mulroney did not invoke the Emergencies Act. Instead, cooler heads prevailed and the protest was negotiated.
On September 11, 2001, our closest ally, the United States, suffered a series of airline hijackings and suicide attacks, resulting in extensive death and destruction. Over 2,900 people were killed, including at least two dozen Canadian citizens. Surely the Emergencies Act could have been invoked under the war or international sections of the act, yet Prime Minister Chrétien did not invoke the act. Instead, we supported our American neighbours in any way we could and stood by our friends when they needed us most.
In the summer of 2013, Alberta experienced catastrophic floods that tragically claimed the lives of five Canadians and resulted in billions of dollars of damage. That summer, local states of emergency were declared. Did Prime Minister Harper invoke a public welfare emergency then? No, instead Canadians banded together to help southern Albertans.
On October 22, 2014, a gunman, whom I will not name, shot and tragically killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the Canadian National War Memorial. The gunman also injured three others and then stormed Parliament, the very heart of our democracy, yet again Prime Minister Harper did not invoke the Emergencies Act.
On May 1, 2016, our country witnessed the costliest disaster in Canadian history when Fort McMurray, Alberta, was devastated by wildfire. Over 80,000 people were forced from their homes and the economic damage of the wildfire was estimated to be upward of $9 billion. Premier Notley declared a provincial state of urgency, yet, still, the did not invoke the Emergencies Act.
From January to March 2020, critical infrastructure such as pipelines and railways was blocked across Canada by protesters and environmental activists in response to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. This caused the construction of the pipeline to be halted, passenger rail to be suspended and commercial rail to be stopped. What did this do? Did he invoke the Emergencies Act then? No he did not. Instead, the government negotiated with indigenous leaders and blockades came to an end.
Most recently, in November 2021, British Columbia experienced massive flooding. This natural disaster tragically claimed the lives of five people and resulted in short- and long-term disruption of Canada's largest port, Fraser Valley. The flooding severed critical infrastructure that connects British Columbia with the rest of Canada. Again, surely this disaster could have warranted the Emergencies Act as well.
Finally, let us not forget that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the could have invoked a public welfare emergency, yet he did not because the provinces did not see it as necessary.
Why is this choosing to take the unprecedented step of invoking the Emergencies Act now? What makes this situation so much worse, so dire that the Prime Minister is compelled to invoke the Emergencies Act? Let me be clear. The situation we are currently facing does not warrant the Liberal government's invoking of the Emergencies Act. We are witnessing a clear-cut case of government overreach. This act is supposed to be used for emergency situations that cannot be addressed through existing laws.
Our country has gone 34 years without invoking this act. We have addressed real emergencies, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, domestic terrorism and even illegal blockades, yet no other sitting prime minister, including himself, has utilized the powers of the Emergencies Act to address any of these situations.
Madam Speaker, this is a classic case of egregious government overreach. Every day, my constituency office receives hundreds of calls and emails from constituents who are concerned. They are concerned about the future of our country. They are concerned that the government is overstepping by giving itself the power to freeze the bank accounts and assets of Canadians without a judge's involvement or due process.
Let me remind my colleagues that this is the who claimed in 2015 that he was going to reform Parliament by empowering backbenches, diminish partisanship, restore civility and make the government accountable. Remember his phrase, “Sunny ways my friends, sunny ways.”
What have Canadians gotten instead? A government run by the PMO, a government that runs roughshod over Parliament and its procedures and the accountability required. Nothing but cloudy ways, my friends, cloudy ways.
The 's government has increased partisanship and diminished civility. He has attacked the very Canadians he was elected to serve, blaming them as “extremists” who were also very often misogynist and racist. Now the Prime Minister is insisting on bringing in this legislation that dramatically expands the ability of the state to interfere in Canadians' private lives.
Invoking the Emergencies Act creates a dangerous precedent that cannot be undone. Furthermore, there is no consensus among premiers to support this drastic measure. The premiers of Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, P.E.I. and Quebec have all said they do not support the act being invoked.
Canada's foundational principles are those of peace, order and good government. While the Liberals do not seem to understand good government, they have finally understood that order is necessary. Sadly, they have overreacted in doing so.
As opposed to taking a reasoned, measured approach, the government has overreached and implemented punitive measures. They have frozen individuals' bank accounts without a judge's involvement or due process. They impose vaccine mandates on truckers with no scientific evidence warranting such action.
As a Canadian and a Conservative, I will always support the right to peaceful, law-abiding protest. I believe this is a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy. I also believe in the rule of law and that the fundamental freedom of peaceful assembly does not include the right to blockade streets, highways, international border crossings and rail lines or disrupt supply chains. My position on illegal blockades has always been clear: Any blockades and barricades need to end. They only hurt Canadian families, businesses and jobs.
However, we can resolve this situation without the invoking the successor to the War Measures Act. I understand the frustration that the people who are protesting are experiencing. This pandemic has been hard on all Canadians. Many people have lost their livelihoods, their loved ones, and so much more throughout this pandemic.
However, truck drivers and their families are not terrorists. At the beginning of this pandemic, when many Canadians were isolating in their homes, I recall that truckers were out there ensuring we had the necessities of life we needed to survive.
As the said in April 2020, “While many of us are working from home, there are others who aren't able to do that, like the truck drivers who are working day and night to make sure our shelves are stocked. So when you can, please thank a trucker for everything they're doing and help them however you can.”
Truckers are Canadian citizens who are worried about their futures and about the futures their children and grandchildren will inherit. Conservatives have heard the concerns of these protesters.
We asked the and his government to commit publicly to a specific plan and timeline to end federal mandates and restrictions, the least that Canadians deserve. Instead, the Liberals and the NDP refused to support our motion. Asking for a plan is reasonable, and their refusal to provide one is shameful.
I ask that all parliamentarians, as representatives of the Canadian people, listen to our fellow citizens. We must be willing to talk regardless of how difficult the situation is. We must not degrade, dismiss or name-call. We must work to rebuild trust in our public institutions. We must help those who have been left behind by the pandemic, and we must end these mandates.
I will conclude by asking all members of the House to try to restore the confidence that has been lost between the people and ourselves. I also ask all members to seriously consider whether we are truly experiencing terrorist threats or if the Liberal government is overreaching and setting a dangerous precedent for our country.
Madam Speaker, I want to mention right away that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Lac‑Saint‑Jean.
As we speak to the confirmation of the February 14 proclamation of a state of emergency, on the other side of these walls, the police are lifting the siege in Ottawa. We all want it to be done as peaceful as possible. As colleagues have done before me, and as others will undoubtedly do, I encourage the participants in this siege to leave without further delay.
I want to acknowledge the excellent work of the men and women who have been working since yesterday to bring order to the streets of the capital. This effective work demonstrates what we have been saying since the beginning of the siege: We do not need the Emergencies Act. We need concerted action by all police forces. We need a crisis task force and a coordination centre. As we have been saying for the past three weeks, we need a plan.
What has been lacking since the siege began is not the use of the Emergencies Act. What has been lacking is leadership from the top, starting with the federal government.
We are calling on the government to not use this legislation, as all governments have refrained from doing since 1988, or for 52 years, if we include the use of the War Measures Act, the predecessor to this act. More than half a century has passed since this legislation was used. There must be good reason for that.
Let us have a look at the legislation, which states:
WHEREAS the safety and security of the individual, the protection of the values of the body politic and the preservation of the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the state are fundamental obligations of government;
AND WHEREAS the fulfilment of those obligations in Canada may be seriously threatened by a national emergency and, in order to ensure safety and security during such an emergency, the Governor in Council should be authorized, subject to the supervision of Parliament, to take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times;
That is part of the preamble at the beginning of the Emergencies Act, which serves as a warning of sorts, saying “handle with care” or “caution: dangerous material”.
The act states: “to take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times”. I really want to repeat that part again, because it carries a heavy burden in a democracy: “special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times”.
The authors of this legislation and the parliamentarians who passed it warned us that we are entering at our own risk.
Such warnings should be taken seriously. At the same time, the Emergencies Act exists and must therefore serve some purpose. Parliament does not pass laws that it does not intend to use.
There is no doubt that this act serves a purpose, but it is meant to be used in extraordinary situations: in case of a public welfare emergency, a public order emergency, an international emergency or a war emergency. It is a law to be used in the case of a disaster.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a siege here. It is true. We are talking about angry Canadians who are unhappy with the public health measures, people who are irrefutably and without a doubt participating in an illegal activity. They deserve to be fined, to have their vehicles seized and possibly even be put in prison in some cases. Is that a disaster? Is it a national crisis? Is it an extraordinary situation?
Over the past few weeks, we have been witnessing a siege. The participants are misguided, ill-informed, fractious and fully aware that they are participating in an illegal activity. In many cases, these people have their children with them.
The police are dealing with this, but I would like to say that I find it extremely irresponsible to bring children into such a situation. I would ask those who brought their children here to leave, because they are putting their children in danger.
From day one we have been asking these people to leave. On Monday we asked the government to tell us its plan. On day six we asked that a crisis task force be created and that it include every police force. The government did nothing.
The people outside do not have the right to be there. At the end of day one, it was no longer a demonstration, but an occupation. At the end of the first week, it was no longer an occupation, but a siege.
What should have been an incident in our lives has become an episode in Canadian history. This government is writing these people into our history.
We have before us a siege that required police intervention and not the invocation of legislation that is used in war time, in times of international crisis or during an earthquake.
This law was not needed during the ice storm. It was not needed during the Oka crisis, or the fires in British Columbia. It has never been needed in the past 25 years.
When the entire world was dealing with a pandemic in 2020, the government was not compelled to use the Emergencies Act.
We are supposed to believe that this out-of-control protest justifies its application today. That creates a dangerous precedent, much like lighting up that first cigarette after not smoking for years. The trick is not to have that cigarette.
Some of us have more conservative values, others more liberal ones. For some, the priority is clean energy, for others it is the fight against climate change. We can have a debate, insult one another in the House and get carried away. Some of us want Quebec to be a country, others want the federal government to be more centralist. We know that we will never agree on several issues.
However, I sincerely believe that all members of the House are democrats and care deeply about democracy. The Emergencies Act provides for “special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times”. We do not need them, not for those people. Even though the government has chosen this path, we need not follow. The House must not support this proclamation. We must be bigger than that.
The Emergency Measures Regulations of Tuesday's order in council state, “A person must not travel to or within an area where an assembly referred to in subsection 2(1) is taking place.” Participating in a public assembly that could severely disturb the peace is prohibited. I understand that.
Nevertheless, people who are not in the area are prohibited from travelling to get there. That is what I am trying to understand. It is prohibited to have the intention to do something that is prohibited. Somebody who is about to do something, without however having done it, is guilty of an offence and could be fined. The government should have a good reason to make freedom of association a relative concept and jeopardize freedom of movement. I do not see it.
What I see are people who are committing mischief and other illegal actions, as well as trucks that are dangerously blocking public roads. I see crowds that should have been dispersed a long time ago and trucks that should have been towed a long time ago. From the outset, we have been calling on the police to intervene peacefully, but firmly. Invoking the Emergencies Act is frankly not necessary for that purpose. If it is invoked to deal with these people, if we open Pandora's box, if we smoke that first cigarette, where will that lead us?
As I have said, I understand the purpose of the Emergencies Act, but if we confirm the declaration, it will say much more about us than about those in the streets. Yes, there have been biker gangs, white supremacists, racists and homophobes in this rather strange crowd. Yes, there are some people in the crowd who believe in the great reset, who think that the vaccine contains sterilizing agents and who believe in other conspiracy theories. There are also people who have disengaged from our institutions, who no longer believe in the government or in the media.
I want to acknowledge the brave women and men who are putting themselves in the middle of this to keep us informed. I am thinking of Raymond Filion, who was assaulted while he was out reporting. Being informed is freedom.
Frankly, there is more freedom for the media than for the opponents. This siege is not sympathetic, nor are the occupiers. Police intervention is necessary, and that is what is happening. However, the government has not convinced us of the need to use the Emergencies Act and should refrain from doing so.
Madam Speaker, first of all, I have no sympathy for what has been happening on Ottawa streets for the past three weeks. Fortunately, after 22 days of siege, the crisis may be over. As we speak, the police are dispersing and arresting the occupiers.
On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to thank all the police forces for their courage, patience and professionalism. We have our fingers crossed, but we may well have avoided the worst. Let us be honest: We feared the worst, and the worst is still possible.
Since the beginning of the siege, the Bloc Québécois has recognized the right to protest, but not the right to occupy, to intimidate, to engage in hate speech, and so on. As I said, I have no sympathy for what has been happening for three weeks on the streets of Ottawa. However, my lack of sympathy should not colour my judgment when it comes to the use of the Emergencies Act. That is the national crisis. What is happening outside is extremely serious, but the police are dealing with it thanks to their well-coordinated efforts, not the federal government.
The national crisis is that, for the first time in history, the Prime Minister is invoking the Emergencies Act, an act that has never been used since being enacted in 1988, 34 years ago. This legislation limits fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of association and freedom of movement. It allows the federal government to intervene in Quebec territory, as well as in Quebec infrastructure, such as hospitals, dams and vaccination centres. It goes against the will of the Quebec National Assembly, which is unanimously opposed to its application in Quebec. It allows the government “to take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times”. The Prime Minister has claimed the right to take inappropriate measures. As parliamentarians, we must determine whether he has truly been able to justify taking these measures.
The Prime Minister is making a historic mistake by invoking the Emergencies Act for the first time ever. I repeat: This is the first time in history it has been invoked. That is why the Prime Minister's decision has two effects that will mark the future: trivializing and setting a benchmark. I say trivializing because he is using this act, even though he has not demonstrated that it meets the necessary emergency criteria at all. It is written in black and white that the Emergencies Act must only be invoked if the government is facing a national crisis that threatens its sovereignty, security and territorial integrity. That is serious. It almost describes a state of war. As we know, this legislation is an updated version of the old War Measures Act.
However, the crisis in Ottawa is not national. It is confined to downtown Ottawa and the neighbouring cities, such as Gatineau. Yes, there are other demonstrations in Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario, and there was even a flash in the pan in Quebec City, but everything was resolved by law enforcement with the tools they already had. The simple truth is that every time governments and police forces have worked properly, in co‑operation, they have prevailed. We are crossing our fingers, but the same scenario seems to be playing out in Ottawa. Each jurisdiction already seems to have all the tools to intervene.
Dialogue is impossible when, upon seeing a convoy of protesters arriving in the federal capital and setting up in front of the federal Parliament to oppose a federal policy and call out the Prime Minister, the federal government spends three weeks saying it is the city's problem.
Moreover, Canada's territorial integrity is not under threat. What is happening is extremely reprehensible, but it is not an invasion.
Furthermore, there is no threat to Canadian sovereignty. Once again, we have our fingers crossed, but the police seem to have the situation under control.
What has been missing for the past three weeks is that the federal government should have been at the helm, carefully managing the crisis. Now it is embarrassing to see the government claiming that it had no choice but to resort to emergency measures. Over the past three weeks, we have watched the occupiers of the capital of a G7 country set up a hot tub, saunas, bouncy castles and street hockey games. Everyone who is present here has seen it first-hand.
Who in the House can seriously claim that every possible effort had been made to resolve this crisis? Does anyone really believe that?
That is why the Prime Minister is normalizing the use of the Emergencies Act. He is setting the precedent that the criteria to be met to use this legislation are discretionary.
He is setting the precedent that it is acceptable to use this legislation without the consensus of the House and maybe even without a majority. He is setting the precedent that it is acceptable to use it against the will of Quebec and most of the provinces. He is setting the precedent that the federal government can essentially use this legislation to say that it did something after three weeks of inaction.
The is using the Emergencies Act in an arbitrary and divisive way for purely political reasons. This normalizing will be used as a benchmark for every successive prime minister. The Prime Minister is charting a course for every future government. In the future, every political player who faces a crisis will look at how the Prime Minister of Canada invoked the Emergencies Act in 2022. They will all look at his decision and see that the bar for invoking the emergency measures is not as high as the legislation suggests.
Political posturing and pressure in times of crisis threaten to again lower the bar a little bit more, always just a little bit more. This will serve as a precedent for all future governments for assessing things like the funding of environmental movements; grassroots campaigns against climate change; student protests; tense labour disputes; protests on civil rights, self-determination or racism; or highly charged debates, such as a nation aspiring to independence. It will serve as the benchmark.
That is why we must be prudent. That is why we must conduct ourselves as statesmen and stateswomen and rise above the fray. We must consider the consequences of our decisions on more than just the situation right under our noses. We must foresee the long-term consequences and think several steps ahead. We must separate our opinions from the legislative decision, the immediate political situation from the legislative decision. As politicians, that is the only way to respect the contract between citizens and the state.
We cannot control the future. I do not know who will be governing the country in 10 years. I am optimistic enough to hope that all future prime ministers will be careful, compassionate, discerning and aware of the impact of every decision they make. However, I have no guarantee of this. I am profoundly disturbed that the political significance of a last-resort emergency measure, a nuclear option, is being downplayed today and for all time.
As I have said before, I have no sympathy for what has been going on in Ottawa in the last three weeks, but that does not matter. I am opposed to the use of the Emergencies Act, despite what I have seen with my own eyes every day while coming to work. In the House, I am the member for Lac-Saint-Jean.
Every morning, I remind myself who I work for. I work for the people of Lac-Saint-Jean. I will not support a reckless decision that could one day impact the rights of my constituents in Lac-Saint-Jean and all Quebeckers. I cannot trivialize invoking the Emergencies Act. I cannot carelessly chart this path for all future governments to walk on.
Frankly, I cannot be absolutely certain that the did not let his disdain for the occupiers influence his decision. I also cannot be certain that he was not influenced by the immediate political situation to make a decision that feels good today but will feel terrible tomorrow. I am not absolutely certain that he fully comprehends the impact of the legacy he will leave. I am also not absolutely certain that the NDP did not rush to support the decision in part because it too lacks sympathy for what has gone on in the streets of Ottawa. I am not certain that the NDP was not distracted by the immediate political situation, leading it to forget how important it is to protect rights and freedoms in the long term. The NDP seems to be thinking about what legacy it will leave today. That is good news.
We must remember the occupation of Ottawa as the crisis that led to proactive co-operation among governments and police forces. It must not be remembered as a crisis that normalized and set a precedent for the use of the Emergencies Act.
Let us make the right decision for the future of a healthy democracy, for the future of the social contract and for the future of the people we have the honour of representing.
Madam Speaker, I would like to note that I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I would like to start my remarks today by thanking you and the House administration staff for ensuring Parliament is able to function. I would also like to take a moment to thank all of the women and men in uniform for their service, working tirelessly to keep us safe and to restore law and order.
The last two years have been tough for everyone. Canadians stepped up to keep their loved ones safe by following public health guidelines. I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has been there to protect the safety of our communities. I thank them for doing their part in fighting this pandemic. I would like to thank essential workers from across the country, who have worked hard to keep our communities safe.
I also want to speak about our hard-working truck drivers. The transportation industry has played a vital role over the past two years. When Canadians were advised by provincial mandates to stay home, truck drivers continued to work. They continued to work to provide medicine, food and supplies to keep our shelves stocked and keep our economy functioning.
Brampton is home to hundreds of trucking companies. The transportation sector is one of the largest employers in Brampton and contributes significantly to the Canadian supply chain. To all the truck drivers who have continued to work heroically throughout the pandemic, I thank them for their service to our country.
The workers represented by Unifor, Teamsters and the Canadian Trucking Alliance are doing their part in getting vaccinated and keeping the supply chain moving. They have clearly supported the need for truckers to get vaccinated and keep goods moving.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have also received many phone calls from truck drivers in my riding about the blockades. They were very clear. The individuals who have occupied Ottawa do not represent them, their opinions or the industry at large. The individuals in convoys who unlawfully block border crossings across our country are not representative of the hard-working truckers we know.
I would like to point out that there are individuals outside the chamber who brought trucks that do not belong to them. A constituent reached out to me the other day who is the owner of a trucking company. He called to tell me that they have a couple of trucks in Ottawa that drivers took on their own will for this occupation. They do not support what is happening outside and wanted to know how to get their trucks back. This should not be happening and is considered theft. I not only urge these truck drivers to return the trucks to their respective owners; I encourage those left outside to return home as well.
I support peaceful protest. It is part of our democratic right, and everyone has a right to exercise their freedom of speech. After all, we are the party of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Freedom of speech and democracy is what we are known for as Canadians, but when international trade into our country is being impacted at our borders, residents do not feel safe in their own communities and our businesses have to unwillingly shut down, it is no longer considered a peaceful protest.
The occupation on the streets of Ottawa is illegal. The occupations and blockades that popped up are a threat to our economy, supply chains and public safety. Residents of Centretown do not feel safe leaving their homes because they fear being harassed. Businesses are shut down because they fear for the safety of their employees. The individuals illegally blocking the streets in Ottawa talk about freedom for all, yet because of them, local residents are locked up in their homes. Small businesses who have already suffered enough over the course of the pandemic are closed. We must protect our critical infrastructure, like our border crossings across the country.
This has a consequential impact on truck drivers trying to do their jobs by crossing the borders, who are unable to come home. That is not freedom. I have heard stories first-hand from concerned families of truck drivers who had to wait up to six hours one way to cross the border while transporting goods from the United States. Because of the blockades, they have had to sacrifice their time with their families. It has affected their mental health and put over 8,000 autoworkers out of work, impacting thousands of families across the country during the border blockades.
I have heard from residents in Centretown who feel unsafe leaving their homes and are being harassed for wearing their masks. Their mental health has been impacted with the absurd amount of honking and noise they have had to endure. As a father, I cannot imagine what new parents and families with young children are having to deal with. Businesses like the mall and many local restaurants have had to temporarily close because of the illegal occupations.
The illegal blockades have been disrupting the lives of Canadians and have been a threat to our economy and relationship with trading partners. The financial impact caused at the Ambassador Bridge was $390 million per day; it was $48 million per day in Coutts and $73 million a day in Emerson, Manitoba. Let me emphasize this: That is the impact per day.
Canadians have been asking our government to take a stand against the illegal blockades and occupations and put an end to what is happening outside our institutions. We invoked the Emergencies Act to protect our communities and jobs, and to restore confidence in our institutions. It is also alarming that there is a significant number of foreign donations, and we need to be very cognizant of that. It is our responsibility to take this stand to protect our communities. As the said on Monday, when the Emergencies Act is invoked, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms continues to protect their individual rights.
As our government has said multiple times, the Emergencies Act measures are not being used to call in the military and will not curtail freedom of expression or the freedom of peaceful assembly. The Emergencies Act is being invoked because the blockades and occupations are a threat to our supply chains, to our economy and to our public safety. The Emergencies Act provides law enforcement with additional tools, prohibits blockades and keeps essential corridors open.
The RCMP and local police services have been provided with the additional resources they need to continue keeping our communities safe, and we have full faith in the important work they are doing. Since we invoked the Emergencies Act, most of our borders have now opened back up for critical trade. Now we must continue to work toward progress and ending the illegal blockades and occupations happening outside of the chamber.
We have been asking the convoy members to return to their homes for almost three weeks now. The police have been clear in their warnings to the protesters. They have been given the option to return home safely, yet they choose not to. We have confidence in the RCMP, OPP, Ottawa police and other local police services to restore law and order. These are not measures that are being taken lightly, and no one's democratic rights will be infringed.
We are doing what is necessary to keep Canadians safe, and the measures put in place by our government are working. These mobile convoys are a threat to our communities. They can show up anywhere and take over a city. We have witnessed it at our nation's capital and ports of entry across the country, and it is simply unacceptable. No one wants their livelihoods taken away from them, and as parliamentarians, we need to stand up for Canadians to stop these illegal occupations.
While some of the Conservative members opposite shake hands, give thumbs-up and high-fives, and pose for pictures with the leadership of the occupiers in Ottawa, let me remind members opposite that the convoy leadership, whom they meet with smiles, associates itself with far-right extremism that has been seen spreading hate and raising racist symbols and Confederate flags.
We will not tolerate that as a party or as a nation. We stand up against all forms of racism and hate, and we will always take a stand. These are not Canadian values and do not represent our country. Unlike some members in the Conservative Party, we are not promoting the leadership figures in the convoy and the activities occurring outside the chamber.
We have taken action to put an end to these illegal blockades. For once, I hope the members opposite stop, put the best interest of our country first and work with the government to protect and support our economy and public safety. We recognize the illegal blockades are a threat to our national security and will continue to do everything we can to keep Canadians safe.
We understand the pandemic has not been easy for anyone and the impact it has had on the lives of Canadians, but illegal blockades at the border, around the country and in Ottawa are not the answer. Businesses are suffering. Employees are suffering. Canadians are suffering. It is important that we continue following the science and working in the best interest of all Canadians.
The convoy members have made their point. It is now time for them to return home. I encourage the members opposite to step up and do the right thing by joining us and helping end this illegal occupation. I want to reassure those listening that charter rights are protected within this act, and that it is charter complaint.
I fully agree with the right to peacefully protest, like my colleagues in the House, but we all know this is no longer peaceful. In a democracy, we must stand against those who prevent others, with threats and assaults, from living freely in our country. There are sinister elements at work here, targeting our critical infrastructure at our borders, hurting our economy and hurting Canadians.
These sinister elements are financed by foreign money, and there must be consequences for those who engage in criminal behaviour. The increased measures in this act are allowing for greater financial scrutiny to enable our law enforcement agencies to effectively do their work and bring those responsible to account. Yes, we have made gains and progress, and we have seen our border crossings reopen, but as parliamentarians, we need to continue working to secure our progress and provide law enforcement the tools they require to end these illegal occupations and blockades.
One of the highest elected offices in Canada is that of a member of Parliament, and with this privilege comes great responsibility. I would like to read a statement from the House administration website before I conclude today:
Before a duly elected Member may take his or her seat and vote in the House of Commons, the Member must take an oath or make a solemn affirmation of allegiance or loyalty to the Sovereign and sign the Test Roll.
When a Member swears or solemnly affirms allegiance to the Queen as Sovereign of Canada, he or she is also swearing or solemnly affirming allegiance to the institutions the Queen represents, including the concept of democracy. Thus, a Member is making a pledge to conduct him- or herself in the best interests of the country. The oath or solemn affirmation reminds a Member of the serious obligations and responsibilities he or she is assuming.
Now, before another member opposite gets the bright idea to go out there and shake hands, give high-fives and take pictures with those who affiliate with far-right extremist, racist ideologies, violent rhetoric and conspiracy theories, I remind members about the oath we all took to protect our democratic institution and serve in the best interest of our country.
Madam Speaker, like my colleague who spoke before me, I would like to thank the members of the Parliamentary Protective Service and the peace officers who have come to Ottawa to deal with this unprecedented situation.
There has been a great deal of misinformation, misconception and misunderstanding around the pandemic and the public health measures that have been necessary, as well as about how these measures stack up against the guarantees in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I have received a great deal of mail, even prior to what we are experiencing today in downtown Ottawa, about mandates and how they violate charter rights.
It is incumbent upon all of us to tell our constituents, which is what I have been doing, that the mandates and public health restrictions that are now being loosened and eliminated did not violate charter rights. If they had violated charter rights, court cases would have been brought, judges would have made decisions and mandates would have been struck down. That is just a fact of our democracy.
As a matter of fact, in Newfoundland, at the very beginning of the pandemic, there was a very serious public health restriction that barred anyone from entering Newfoundland unless they had some kind of medical document. That case was brought to the court, and the court found that public health measure was not a violation of charter rights. It is very important, and it is incumbent on us, as elected members of Parliament, to reassure Canadians that their charter rights have not been violated. Yes, these measures have imposed constraints, but the constraints are not necessarily a violation of charter rights.
Some will say in response that they do not want to talk about the courts because they are part of the government, or they are stacked with liberal-minded judges. Once we get to the point where there is no agreement on the structure of our democracy, and how it operates and functions, then it is impossible to have constructive conversations. Every law that is tabled in the House is accompanied by a charter statement. While orders in council do not require a formal charter statement, they are vetted for charter consistency.
It is also important to remind Canadians that what we have been seeing in front of Parliament and at many border crossings across the country is not peaceful, lawful protest. We have to remind Canadians that these have been unlawful protests that have surpassed what can reasonably be considered legitimate protest based on constitutionally protected rights and freedoms.
The so-called “freedom convoy” has not been without negative consequence, especially for the people of Ottawa. Businesses have been closed in downtown Ottawa, and workers who need to feed their families have not been able to work for three weeks. Their income has been stopped. As well, Canadians suffered income interruptions because of the blockage of supply chains at the border. These people have felt the very real consequences of these illegal blockades.
I will go back to talk about the people of Ottawa, and will quote from an article that appeared recently in The Globe and Mail about the mental health impacts of the blockade here in Ottawa on the citizens of this city. It says, “Experts worry that the stress could have long-lasting effects on the health of residents who have also been navigating life during a pandemic.” Then the article goes on to quote Ivy Bourgeault, professor in the school of sociological and anthropological studies at the University of Ottawa, who stated, “I don’t think, as a resident, that one can look at one’s environment in the same way again. That when there are other protests, this will be a trigger.” She went on to say, “Uncertainty and no control just causes enormous amounts of stress, and that is in addition to the chronic stressors that people have been dealing with in relation to the pandemic.” I could go on.
I would also like to speak about the economic impacts. I mentioned these before, in a question to one of the hon. members who was speaking. The point I was trying to make was that if someone wanted to undermine the security of a nation, especially a trading nation that imports most of its products from a neighbouring nation such as the United States, they would block the points of entry. It would harm that nation. They would block the Ambassador Bridge. They would block crossings in Manitoba and Alberta. They would block 12 additional points of entry. Of course, they would also breach the confines of the CBSA plaza in Fort Erie, resulting in a lockdown of the office to prevent additional protesters from gaining entry. That is what someone would do if they wanted to undermine the security of this country.
I have watched the reaction from the official opposition, and I do not want to be partisan because this is not a partisan issue. I have watched the reasoning and messaging coming from the official opposition for a couple of weeks. The first notion that the official opposition tried to float was that if the would sit down and have a cup of coffee with anti-democratic organizers, then everyone would go home happy. I do not believe that a so-called law and order party really believes in that notion.
Then, the official opposition had been giving credence to the notion that the police are directed by the federal government. If the protest is still there, it is the fault of the federal government because it controls the forces of law and order. Many people believe that. Many people have written to me, asking why we cannot do anything about this. I remind them that in a constitutional democracy, governments, whether municipal, provincial or federal, do not direct the police.
When the government finally did something by invoking the Emergencies Act, the official opposition recoiled in shocked surprise. They asked how we could possibly think of doing that, after telling the government that it was not doing anything. There is plenty of contradiction in the messaging coming out of the other side, but I would like to leave that aside for a moment.
Another point that has been raised is that this could have been handled normally using normal laws, but we saw for three weeks that the Ottawa police were overwhelmed. They could not do anything, and we saw that. That is a historical record. For three weeks, the Ottawa police could not get this situation under control. That was not the federal police. That was not the provincial police. That was the Ottawa police.
What did the Emergencies Act allow? It allowed the Ottawa police to be supported by police forces from, I think, seven other municipalities. What did the Emergencies Act allow? It meant that these police officers could join and help the Ottawa police in clearing out this blockade that is in front of the Parliament buildings, and they did not have to deputize each individual officer in some kind of bureaucratic process—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by commending the work of the various police forces. So far, the clearing of the protest has been carried out in a calm and orderly manner, under the circumstances. I hope to see that continue.
I would also like to thank the House of Commons staff and security service, whose outstanding efforts have made it possible for us to sit today under these exceptional circumstances.
This is an extremely serious debate. The Emergencies Act is the nuclear option of legislative tools. It is the last resort. Governing by decree is not right. The decision of whether or not to authorize the use of this legislation lies with all of us as members of Parliament.
What we decide will go down in history. We have the power to stop it or to give the government carte blanche. The decision falls squarely on our shoulders. I urge all parliamentarians across party lines to rise to the occasion in a way that reflects the gravity of the situation.
The Emergencies Act is special legislation that should be invoked only when it is absolutely necessary. It is invoked after concluding that ordinary legislation is inadequate to deal with an urgent and dangerous situation. I really want to emphasize again that invoking this act is the nuclear option and must not be taken lightly.
Some have argued that the act was necessary to send a message to the occupiers of Ottawa. There is no need to go nuclear to send a message.
The motion before us is not just about accepting the proclamation of emergency measures. It asks us to accept three orders that contain a series of measures. Our duty, as parliamentarians, is to study these measures and ask ourselves whether each of them is truly necessary and whether there is no other way to solve the problem. If we conclude that any of them is not really critical, then we must reject the motion.
The government could present a more suitable order if it thinks it is necessary. In that case, we will see. I am a Quebecker and a separatist. My colleagues will have no trouble understanding why the declaration of emergency measures feels like a punch to the gut to me.
Some have argued that the current Emergencies Act is completely different from the infamous War Measures Act that was used to intimidate Quebeckers and tyrannize the separatists in 1970. That is true, and for good reason.
To understand the purpose of the act, let us go back nearly 34 years to when it was passed. The act was passed in 1988, after being introduced in 1987. What happened in 1987? It was another time, but it helps us understand the intention of Parliament at the time.
Brian Mulroney was in power. He was the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, which no longer exists. He was elected on a platform of reconciliation with Quebec, which is something that Canada no longer talks about.
In 1987, one of his reconciliation measures included signing the Meech Lake accord. He wanted to remedy a travesty committed in 1982, when English Canada amended the Constitution and reduced the National Assembly of Quebec's powers. This was done without us and against our will. The rest is history. The Meech Lake Constitutional Accord failed, as did the Charlottetown accord that followed, and there still has not been any reconciliation.
That same year, the Mulroney government introduced the act we are discussing today. It wanted to repeal the War Measures Act, a piece of legislation that had traumatized Quebec 17 years earlier. The Mulroney government was attempting to remedy the travesty of 1970 the same year it was trying to make up for the travesty of 1982. That is why the Emergencies Act is different from the War Measures Act.
This time, no police officers or soldiers will show up in middle of the night without a warrant and arrest innocent people whose only crime was having a different opinion. That will not happen this time around. Fundamental rights have not been abolished. There are safeguards now that did not exist under the accursed War Measures Act.
In the past, the government could invoke the act at will. Now, there are safeguards. We are one of those safeguards, but safeguards are only helpful if they are used. I urge everyone to make use of these safeguards today.
The first safeguard involves consulting the provinces. The act requires that the government consult the provinces and report back to Parliament. When this act was passed as part of the reconciliation with Quebec, no one ever thought that it would be imposed on us, because our consent was needed.
There was a requirement to consult. The government gave us a summary of its consultations, as required by law. It informed us that seven of the 10 provinces were opposed to the invocation of the Emergencies Act. Two of the three that agreed that the government had to invoke the act because of the problems in the city of Ottawa said that they did not need the act enforced in their provinces.
However, the government chose to impose this act from coast to coast to coast. The government is imposing this act on Quebec, which said no. The Government of Quebec said no. Members from all parties in the Quebec National Assembly, which speaks on behalf of the people of Quebec, unanimously said no. This unanimous decision from the Quebec National Assembly is nowhere to be found in the three orders that the government is asking us to approve. Consultations are meaningless to this government.
We understood that this act would never be imposed on us without our consent, but that is what is happening here. Reconciliation with Quebec, which, I will remind the House, was one of the cornerstones of getting the Emergencies Act passed, is being thrown out the window. The first safeguard to prevent government by decree failed. The government overrode it. The second safeguard is us parliamentarians.
The government is bound by the act to inform us that the provinces are opposed and that Quebec is opposed, so that we take it into consideration. The orders being imposed on us do not take it into consideration, however. The act applies to the country as a whole, regardless of whether or not there are problems, or whether or not Quebec is opposed. This is contrary to the spirit of reconciliation with Quebec that led to the passage of the act. Reconciliation with Quebec, respect for Quebec—that rings hollow now.
Let us get back to the act. Generally, two conditions must be met for the government to have the right to invoke it and for Parliament to be justified in approving it. First, there must be a dangerous and urgent situation. Second, it must be impossible to deal with the situation under existing laws, making it essential to move to governing by decree.
The Emergencies Act requires the government to justify its decision to invoke the act and to lay before Parliament “an explanation of the reasons for issuing the declaration”. On Wednesday evening, the government sent us a document entitled “Explanation pursuant to subsection 58(1) of the Emergencies Act”. In this explanatory document, the government cites five reasons to justify its decision to invoke the act.
(i) The occupiers threaten to use violence for the purpose of achieving a political or ideological objective.
(ii) The blockades, in particular blockades of critical infrastructure, threaten Canada's economic security.
(iii) The blockades, in particular those at the border, are detrimental to Canada-U.S. relations.
(iv) The blockades threaten the supply of essential goods to Canadians.
(v) There is potential for an increase in the level of violence.
It is conceivable that the five reasons cited by the government may or may not be real. That is a matter for debate. Given that the Emergencies Act is the nuclear option, however, it sets the bar higher than that. Even if these five reasons were well founded, the fact remains that this is not enough. The government needs to meet one more criterion in order to proceed. Section 3 of the act states that it is not enough for there to be a crisis. The crisis must also be “of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it” and one that “cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada”.
In other words, before it can invoke the Emergencies Act, the government must demonstrate that the crisis cannot be dealt with under ordinary laws and that it is absolutely necessary to resort to special legislation and government by decree. However, the government did not demonstrate this in the statement of reasons it gave to parliamentarians. Worse, it did not even attempt to do so, even though this is required under the act. It has remained completely silent on this.
By the way, I will ask again, what laws are currently insufficient?
The order states that it is prohibited to bring a child to an illegal protest. However, provincial child protection laws already prohibit exposing a child to a dangerous situation. That is already the case in both Quebec and Ontario. The Children's Aid Society, the Ontario equivalent of Quebec's Direction de la protection de la jeunesse, was already involved because Ottawa police had referred cases to it.
Exactly how are the regular laws are not effectively dealing with the situation?
As I was saying, as far as child welfare is concerned, the file is already open.
In what way are Canada's laws inadequate for coping with this situation? Why does the government consider the Emergencies Act to be necessary? We do not know—no one knows—because the government is not saying.
The order provides for the possibility of having financial institutions freeze the accounts of those who participate in illegal demonstrations. However, the Criminal Code already prohibits the funding of illegal activities. This is already the case. The Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act already authorizes financial institutions to freeze the proceeds of criminal activities or funds used to finance such activities. This is already the case under Canada's existing laws. There is no legislative void.
In what way do these laws not allow us to deal with the current situation? Why does the government consider the Emergencies Act to be necessary? We do not know, no one knows, because the government is not saying.
In fact, not only has the government never said why this power was indispensable, it has also never said in what way it could be useful.
Last week, the government gave us a briefing on enforcing the act. What it told us about freezing bank accounts was disturbing. An assistant deputy minister from the Department of Finance explained how it would work. What the government told us was that it would be up to the financial institutions to freeze the accounts of those involved in the occupation in Ottawa. In other words, it would be up to the financial institutions to guess which of their members or customers are taking part in these illegal protests and then guess when they have left the protest so that their accounts can be reactivated. The government does not see itself as having any particular responsibility for this and says that it is the banks' responsibility. What a joke.
Banks are not the police. They cannot know who is blocking the streets of Ottawa. The government is washing his hands of this situation. It is utter nonsense.
Under the Emergencies Act, the government is required explain why it cannot end the occupation in Ottawa using existing laws. Not only has it failed to do so, but it has also not even told us how the act would help here.
I will give another example. Pursuant to the executive order, the measures against financing criminal activity extend to crowdfunding platforms. Now, that is a good idea. In fact, it is such a good idea that it is already possible to take such action under existing laws.
Crowdfunding platforms are already governed by the provinces. We have laws already, and they work. For example, on February 10, the Ontario Superior Court granted an injunction sought by the province to freeze funds raised by the “Freedom Convoy 2022” and “Adopt a Trucker” campaigns on the GiveSendGo crowdfunding platform. That happened under ordinary laws without the Emergencies Act and without the government's order.
In what way do existing laws not allow for adequate management of the situation? Why does the government think the Emergencies Act is necessary? We do not know, we do not see and we do not understand.
Here is another example. The order authorizes insurers to suspend the occupiers' insurance. How are the truckers going to be able to leave if they are no longer insured? If the truckers' liability insurance is suspended and an accident happens, the victims will not receive compensation for damages. How is it necessary or useful to take that away from victims?
The government had a legal obligation to show that each of the emergency powers it was giving itself was absolutely necessary to resolve the crisis. In the case of suspending insurance, not only did the government not seek to demonstrate the absolute necessity of this measure, but it did not seek to demonstrate how it was useful.
The order sets out a series of grounds for declaring a protest to be illegal, including the paralysis of critical infrastructure, significant obstruction of traffic, and so on. All of these grounds are included in one or more of the ordinary laws that are currently in force, whether it is the Criminal Code, highway traffic acts, or municipal bylaws.
Law enforcement had all the legal tools to deal with the various border blockades. We saw that in Windsor and Coutts. There is no legal vacuum that needs to be filled by proclaiming emergency measures, as the government itself admits. It was not the absence of legislation that brought Ottawa to a standstill. In the government's statement of reasons, it does not even try to argue that there was a legal vacuum to be filled by the special legislation. That is just pathetic.
The Emergencies Act is designed to make up for the inadequacy of existing legislation. It is not designed to make up for the government's lack of leadership.
I could have understood the government needing emergency powers to requisition tow trucks and move the trucks currently being used as barricades in Ottawa. Even though the government did not make that argument, I could have understood it. A one-section order to address this shortfall in a very limited area might have been acceptable.
The orders before us are not just about requisitioning tow trucks in Ottawa.
These orders amount to a carte blanche. They cover a series of actions without any apparent justification, and they apply throughout Canada, including Quebec, where there is no state of emergency.
These extremely broad orders are what the House is being asked to approve.
In all conscience, I refuse to do so. The Bloc Québécois refuses to do so.
The Quebec National Assembly has unanimously called on the House of Commons to refuse to do this. The criteria for invoking the act have not been met. The government knows full well that the current laws are enough; otherwise, it would have told us so.
The Emergencies Act does not address a need. All it does is save face for the Prime Minister, who let the situation get out of hand from the very beginning and wants to show that he is doing something. However, as I said, you do not drop an atomic bomb in order to send a message. Quebec does not want the emergency measures to apply in its territory.
The government held consultations and was told no. It should have taken that for an answer, but it did not. Will parliamentarians do their part by hitting the brakes? Will they stand up against government by decree, or will they instead listen to the Liberal Party?
We know that the Liberals will listen to what the government tells them. Once a lapdog, always a lapdog.
Now I will turn to the NDP.
In 1970, Tommy Douglas said that invoking the War Measures Act was like using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut. The law changed in 1988, but the situation remains the same.
Proclaiming the Emergencies Act and imposing it on Quebec, where there is no state of emergency, is today's equivalent of using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut.
Of course, the Emergencies Act is different from the infamous War Measures Act. It contains safeguards, brakes on the authoritarianism of government by decree, but the key brake is us parliamentarians. We have a heavy burden on our shoulders.
Once a lapdog, always a lapdog. When it comes time to vote, we will see if the NDP should be called the New Liberal Party or remain the New Democratic Party. The NDP essentially has the burden of choosing between a democratic government and a government by decree.
I am standing up and saying no to these three outrageous orders out of respect and love for my people.
Madam Speaker, in the last few weeks I have received phone calls from constituents asking me why it came to this. How is it that Canada, the true north strong and free, has come to declare a national emergency to handle trucks parked in downtown Ottawa?
Let me be clear: It is time that the rule of law was restored in Ottawa, but what happened is a direct result of the fear and division created by the . I also want to tell people who are part of the convoy that my colleagues and I have heard their valid concerns on this side of the House. We will continue to push for an end to pandemic measures, as the science indicates should happen.
People who have reached out to my office in the last few weeks are exhausted and frustrated, and they are tired of this Liberal government not listening or even trying to understand their point of view. After three weeks, law enforcement acted to resolve the situation. However, there was no attempt by the government to speak to the organizers. Instead, the continued to throw around divisive rhetoric and still has not provided a plan forward to end the COVID-19 measures.
This past Monday, the Liberals had an opportunity to finally show some leadership and support the thoughtful and measured motion that we Conservatives brought forward. However, as usual, they partnered with the NDP and crushed the hopes of countless Canadians desperate for a pathway out of the pandemic. They crushed the hopes of many of my constituents in industries like tourism and transportation, constituents who were just looking for a path forward. Instead of working with members in the House and with provincial governments, the dug in with his name-calling. The people outside the West Block who were asking to be heard are just as Canadian as any member here. They should not be put down by someone who is supposed to be leading our country.
We have now reached the point where we need to ask ourselves seriously if the use of the Emergencies Act was really necessary. The City of Ottawa had a state of emergency in effect and the Ontario provincial government also declared an emergency. Under the current powers that existed in those declarations and existing federal and provincial laws, the police had the tools they needed to handle the situation in Ottawa.
The Emergencies Act clearly states that a declaration can only be made when it meets three conditions, including one that no other federal law or provincial power can deal with the alleged emergency. On top of that, Ontario has a plan to share law enforcement resources among municipalities without using the Emergencies Act. If the police already had the powers they needed and the Emergencies Act was not necessary to acquire manpower, why invoke the act for the first time in Canada's history?
The act was not used for the Oka crisis, nor for either of the Vancouver riots in 1994 and 2011. It was not used in 2010 when protesters at the G20 in Toronto started a riot. This act has not even been used to address recent terrorist threats to Canada or the 2020 pipeline blockades. This government is setting an extremely dangerous precedent by invoking this act.
The powers to deal with the situation here in Ottawa already existed. Despite what various ministers have said, the Governor in Council can direct the RCMP. It is all laid out in the RCMP Act under section 5. This government should know, because it used in 2017.
The Liberals also claimed that they needed the Emergencies Act to direct tow trucks in clearing rigs from downtown. Well, we know that this is false too, because section 129(b) of the Criminal Code gives police the option to require anyone “without reasonable excuse, to assist a public officer or peace officer in the execution of his duty in arresting a person or in preserving the peace”.
What is clear now is that invoking this act is just another power grab and overreach by this Liberal government, and that is scary. What happens in the future when the government does not agree with the political position of protesters in Canada?
My constituents looked at the emergency declaration and asked, “Why?” How can this equate truckers parked in the middle of the road in downtown Ottawa to World War I, World War II and the October crisis, simply because he disagrees with the truckers' beliefs? He could have listened. He could have provided a plan forward out of the COVID measures. He could have handled the situation here in Ottawa without jeopardizing democracy. The RCMP and local law enforcement did it at B.C., Coutts, Emerson and the Ambassador Bridge.
The Emergencies Act is not something we can throw around lightly. It is the absolute last choice after all else has fails.
The future of our country is at stake. The Liberal government and still cannot explain what steps were taken before invoking this act. When a national emergency is so urgent and dangerous, the government needs extraordinary powers, but where is that emergency? No matter what one's political stripe, supporting these sweeping powers is one of the most serious decisions a member of this House can make. It is serious because the use of the Emergencies Act impacts the rights and freedoms of Canadians, regardless of what the government says.
This loves to throw around lines like “responsible leadership”. Leadership is standing up for the rights and freedoms of this country. Real leadership is protecting the fundamental principles of Canada and uniting Canadians. Despite someone having views different from the 's, the government should not have the power to limit people's rights. Limiting rights should never happen without due process or an urgent national emergency.
If we do not have a critical national emergency, then the only way to limit Canadians' rights should be through due process, yet the government is now using the act to shut down people's bank accounts. The deputy director of intelligence for FINTRAC, Barry MacKillop, said that there is no evidence that this funding in Ottawa is tied to ideologically motivated extremism, so why are people's judicial rights being shut down? Is the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty just something the government would ignore? Bank accounts are tied to people's lives and livelihoods. A person's support of a political process should never be a reason to interfere with Canadians' rights.
Howard Anglin, former deputy chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, wrote:
[T]he bottom line is that civil liberties in Canada are more vulnerable today than they were yesterday, and they will remain so as long as the declaration of emergency remains in place.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has even taken legal action against the government, saying that the 's action in invoking the act is “extraordinary” and “unconstitutional”. The association has said that legal requirements put in place to safeguard democratic processes have not been met.
The Canadian Constitution Foundation has also said, “Emergency legislation should not be normalized. The threshold for using the Emergencies Act is extremely high and has not been met.”
The World Sikh Organization of Canada is also opposed to this act; so is the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. The provincial governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I., Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta have also opposed the 's overreach.
The situation here in Ottawa never met the level of crisis that is needed to use the Emergencies Act. Invoking this act sets a dangerous precedent. It sends a message to all Canadians, now and in the future, that they cannot have dissenting opinions or views. In this time of fear and division, people are crying out not to trample on the traditions and beliefs that make Canada great.
The has had many opportunities to de-escalate the situation and take a measured approach. Conservatives have been calling on the government to lay out a clear plan following science. Again, the Liberal government has completely shut out Canadians, even though two-thirds of Canadians want to see these mandates gone. This is all about mandates. It is a time for leadership in this country to unite Canadians, no matter what their views are.
As members in this place, our first duty is to listen to our constituents and protect their rights and freedoms. When the people in power overstep and overreact, we risk the rights, freedoms and democracy that this place represents. This is why I cannot, in good conscience, support the use of the Emergencies Act. Now is the time for us in this House to stand up and find a way to return to a government that is not divisive and find a way to unite Canadians. We need to work together to have a Canada that is united, strong and free.
Madam Speaker, I just wanted to say, first of all, I appreciate all Canadians' prayers right now. I have been getting messages that they are praying for us in this place to make good decisions. I covet them and we are thankful for them, especially at this very trying time for our country.
Today, we are debating the 's Emergencies Act. We have already heard about the thresholds and whether they have been met. The Liberals will argue that they have been. However, across the board, across the country, we are hearing that they have not. Clearly, if I read them out to us today, we would see that they have not been met.
This statement is from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association:
The current emergency orders place significant limits on peaceful assembly across the entire country. They require financial institutions to turn over personal financial information to CSIS and the RCMP, and to freeze the bank accounts and cut off financial services provided to anyone who has attended, or who has provided assistance to those participating in, a prohibited assembly—all without judicial oversight.
It is in light of all these violations of civil liberties that we will be taking the government to court....
This becomes a great concern for that mother or grandmother who donated $20 for the cause of freedom to the truckers convoy. What started off as a simple protest for truckers' mandates has developed into something much larger, into a defence of freedom in Canada. Is the grandmother that donated $20 on some Liberal list now and cannot travel after this? We do not know. We do not know how far and how wide this act will go or what the is trying to do.
I figure it is important that, while we often refer to our freedoms, I will read them out. Section 2 of our fundamental freedoms reads:
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
Section 6 reads, “Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain and leave Canada.”
Section 7 reads, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”
Section 8 reads, “Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.”
Section 9 reads, “Everyone has the right to not be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.”
The Emergencies Act really allows the to push those aside and do whatever he wants. Some ask me how we arrived here. That is the question I would ask all Canadians. How did we get here? This is the Prime Minister that has been leading up to this. This will be his crescendo.
Does everybody remember the 's values test that was given to summer student jobs a number of years ago in 2017? In December of that year, the government introduced an attestation that if someone did not adhere to the Prime Minister's beliefs or his values, the funding was not going to come to them.
I remember many times fighting this in my MP office, fighting so that all members of our community would have access to those summer student jobs. Over 1,500 applications were denied because they did not meet this values test. On March 19, 2018, we tabled a motion. Former Liberal MP Scott Simms voted against the government. He was put on the back bench because of that. This is the four years ago. We have seen this developing for many years now.
I think what Canadians are becoming, sadly, aware of is that this is really who the is. I wrote a column a couple weeks ago and this is the quote from the actual Prime Minister's mouth. This is a man who is supposed to unite the country, not divide it. He said that they are extremists who don't believe in science, that they're often misogynists and also racist. He said that it is a small group that muscles in, and that we have to make a choice in terms of leaders, in terms of the country, “Do we tolerate these people?”
This quote is not from some far left-wing or far right-wing individual. This is from the 's own mouth. This is the person invoking the same act we are debating today and it is shameful.
Some would ask why. It would seem to make more sense to unite the country than divide it. Here is an article from Lorrie Goldstein, who writes, “Trudeau can't unite us because his strategy is to divide us.” This is what it is all about—
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I am against invoking the Emergencies Act.
I commend the work of the police officers, who have shown remarkable composure and professionalism. I hope this illegal occupation will end without violence.
Many protesters have made the reasonable choice to leave. However, a fractious group is still refusing to go home. It is possible they are extremists. They are the ones who came to occupy, not to protest. It is to be expected that they will be difficult to remove, but none of this justifies using the Emergencies Act.
To invoke and enforce the act, two things must first be demonstrated. First, that there is a dangerous and urgent situation. Second, that it is impossible to deal with the situation under existing laws. I do not believe this to be the case.
Faced with such a situation, I think it is important to distinguish between an exception, in other words, something that only occurs once and will not reoccur, and a precedent, which is something that is expected to happen again. I do not think we should make a precedent out of an exceptional situation.
I personally believe that invoking the Emergencies Act is the direct result of a terrible lack of vision and leadership. With that in mind, the question that remains is this: How did we get to where we are today?
We all knew that the truckers were coming. We all knew that, once they were here, it would be difficult to remove them. Did all of us really know that? No. The said that the right to protest was important, and I agree. I also agree that everyone should be able to express themselves freely. That was before the protest became an occupation.
Throughout the first week of the occupation, the Prime Minister was quick to lecture us, saying that he could not direct the police, that the police had to submit their requests and that it was the police's job to control the situation. That is why the police chief asked for 1,800 additional officers, but he got only a few dozen. That is when the occupation became really entrenched. Was it a lack of vision on the part of the Prime Minister, carelessness, flippancy or a lack of leadership? Who knows?
To understand the situation—and I propose that we discuss it in order to explain it—it is worth noting that this ill-advised decision is a logical extension of previous decisions, which were all equally clumsy.
The current Liberal government was elected in 2015 on promises for a better future, one where transparency would be a priority and where Canada would reclaim its place on the international stage. That was in 2015, and the Liberals were saying that Canada was back.
It was definitely a breath of fresh air and there was hope for better days. The met with world leaders and graced the front pages of celebrity magazines. The whole world admired his youthful good looks and colourful socks.
Hope appealed to Canadians, but all was not well. In January 2017, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner began an investigation into the Trudeau family's vacation on the Aga Khan's private island, and that investigation resulted in a reprimand from the commissioner.
It was the first time a prime minister had been reprimanded by a Conflict of Interest and Ethics commissioner. The first Trudeau report, because there would be others, was shameful for a prime minister—
Absolutely, Madam Speaker. I fully agree.
The context that I am bringing here allows me to draw a line, which for the moment is drawn as a solid line but where we can see the dots that are connected. I will shorten my remarks on the line in question.
A little later, the was still making headlines about ethics and the SNC-Lavalin affair. When we read the report, we learned that the commissioner had tried to meet with him a hundred times, but that did not happen. In my opinion, this is avoidance. There too, he was not responsible for anything.
That has continued; this line is continuous and that is what we need to see. In 2020, as we know, the federal cabinet chose WE Charity to administer the Canada student service grant. There were ties between that organization and the Prime Minister's family, namely his children, his wife, his brother, and so on. The Prime Minister did not shoulder the blame in that situation, but we know what happened next. I mention all of this to say that the Prime Minister has a troubled relationship with ethics, with the concepts of what is right and just, which brings us to the Emergencies Act.
In my opinion, in these situations that I briefly described, the Prime Minister demonstrated a complete lack of judgment, and that is not what we expect from a leader. Even recently, on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Prime Minister chose to go surfing rather than to pay tribute to a people he personally chose to honour. Is that an ethical failure? Certainly not, but it shows a lack of judgment. Once again that is not what we expect from a leader. The most recent example of a lack of judgment is the invocation of the Emergencies Act.
I am listing these failures in order to draw attention to the Liberal mindset. In my opinion, repeated errors in judgment and contempt are part of their DNA. When we have contempt for an object or person, we believe they are unworthy of respect or esteem. I will give three examples of contempt relating to the office of Prime Minister, the institution of Parliament and the people.
At the beginning of his mandate, the Prime Minister showed contempt for his office with the costumes he wore. He should understand that he is not acting in a play.
As for contempt for the institution of Parliament, the ethics breaches that I mentioned and the audacity of calling an unnecessary vanity election come to mind.
As for contempt for the public, after actively doing nothing, the Prime Minister uselessly invoked the Emergencies Act, which is not something that the provinces wanted or found to be useful under the circumstances—as my colleagues have clearly shown—because most of the powers used so far by police officers already existed at the provincial and municipal levels.
It is a strong-handed measure that is actually an admission of weakness. In fact, it is a textbook case of hubris—my friends know my background in philosophy. Hubris is when somebody becomes too vain, cocky or intoxicated with power, and eventually loses control and risks making poor and potentially fatal decisions.
The has made an art out of adding insult to injury through his lack of substance, numerous ethics breaches, poor judgment, contempt, arrogance and hubris.
The Prime Minister called an unnecessary snap election and invoked the Emergencies Act for no good reason, which did not help in Coutts, in Windsor, or even in Ottawa. That, to me, is unacceptable. How did we end up here? If we have been paying any attention at all, and add up the lack of judgment and leadership, it is hardly surprising that we are here today discussing this legislation.
When I look at everything that the Prime Minister has done, it seems to me that over time he has started to confuse public interest with political games, public interest with personal interest.
The Emergencies Act is the wrong response, a response lacking in leadership to a situation that required maximum leadership. The Emergencies Act, as I said, is a strong move, but it is an admission of weakness. Rather than bringing out the nuclear weapons, I think that he should have acted sooner. I wonder whether the Prime Minister should put the legislation in question to a free vote in order to see what all members of the House really think.
Before he racks up one too many lapses in judgment, I encourage the Prime Minister to ask himself whether he still feels like governing.
Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois strongly condemns the occupation, the siege and the blockades. That is clear, and I hope nobody will ever doubt it.
I refuse to play the game the Liberals and the NDP MPs want to play. I think it is deplorable. Do not ask me to just go along with it. This order is utterly out of proportion. It could destroy our freedoms. The Liberals deployed it in the hope that we would not notice their incompetence and their sloppy, pathetic handling of the crisis.
This government, and particularly this Prime Minister, were asleep at the switch for three weeks. As my leader said, out of nowhere, they dropped a nuclear bomb, the Emergencies Act. Our role as BQ MPs is to protect our constituents from these bad federal government decisions. Taking coercive action without taking Quebec's opinion into account was a very bad decision.
The government had police forces at its disposal. They were capable of taking action; they had the tools to do so. Unfortunately, the government waited too long. As my leader said, it is obvious that a truck parked on the white lines of a public roadway, even if it is just for a minute and a half, is breaking several laws.
Let us talk about existing laws. Subsection 430(1) of the Criminal Code reads as follows:
430 (1) Every one commits mischief who wilfully
(c) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property; or
(d) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property.
Note that property here can refer to a road, bridge, tunnel or port.
The right to protest is a recognized right. However, a protest can be declared illegal for several reasons. For instance, section 63(1) of the Criminal Code states, and I quote:
63 (1) An unlawful assembly is an assembly of three or more persons who, with intent to carry out any common purpose, assemble in such a manner or so conduct themselves when they are assembled as to cause persons in the neighbourhood of the assembly to fear, on reasonable grounds, that they
(a) will disturb the peace tumultuously; or
(b) will by that assembly needlessly and without reasonable cause provoke other persons to disturb the peace tumultuously.
Both types of mischief constitute offences that have been perpetrated continuously for 23 days. Individual freedom does have its limits. We were already at that point a few weeks ago. This is not a new problem. A free and democratic society forms the basis of our social contract.
The Prime Minister should clearly have woken up sooner. He knew that the Ottawa Police Service did not have the staff to manage this crisis, and he did nothing to help. On February 10, Ottawa asked for an additional 1,800 police officers. The federal government sent 275. That is not too bad. However, they were mainly assigned to the Prime Minister and Parliament. In reality, 20 police officers were added to the detail monitoring the protesters. That is embarrassing and shameful.
Suddenly, on day 16 of the occupation, the woke up and spoke about the nuclear option, the Emergencies Act. The government says it is justified in invoking this act, so let us talk about the justification or the lack thereof.
Since Monday, the government has used its order to financially punish and literally ruin the protesters and their associated entities. Did we then see the protesters run away with their tails between their legs? No. Everyone is talking about one case that was reported on the news two days ago, I believe, the only known case, the only recorded case.
The protesters have remained, more determined than ever, now convinced that they are living under a dictatorship. This government provoked them and continues to provoke them.
The Economist wrote that this act could make the situation worse. I think it hit the nail on the head. It was right on.
The second thing covered by this order in council is the much-talked-about towing logistics. Tow truck drivers in the area apparently did not want to use their equipment to tow the trucks. The government could have looked to bring in tow trucks from outside the national capital, which would have eliminated the need for this order in council.
When there is a big storm that causes massive damage in Sherbrooke, what happens? People from Saguenay will show up quickly to help. That is how it works in Quebec, at least. People come from far and away to help. All you have to do is ask.
Furthermore, the Bloc Québécois offered to form an all-party crisis task force in the early days of the occupation. We wanted to work together to address this effectively. The took his time agreeing. He wound up backed into a corner and said yes.
The Bloc Québécois wanted and still wants to help the country get out of this mess, this terrible crisis. The reality on the ground is that the police are now doing their job and they did not need this order to do it. They needed more people.
The Bloc Québécois is opposed to this legislation because it was and still is sufficient to allocate as many police officers and resources as necessary to each site, for example to the Ambassador Bridge and Coutts.
A moment ago, I was talking about solidarity. I would like to express my gratitude to the Sûreté du Québec officers who came to lend a hand to our Ontario neighbours. I would also like to express my deep admiration to the seven police forces that have been here in Ottawa since Friday and who are doing an extraordinary job of removing the occupiers. They are professional, methodical and effective. I have nothing but praise for them.
By the way, there are not many NDP members here today, so maybe the NDP is reconsidering its position. At least that is what we hope. After all, only fools do not change their minds.
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to represent the constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country.
Friday, March 13, 2020, will be forever in my memory as the day we closed Parliament due to the coronavirus pandemic declaration, and we all made our way home. In response to the pandemic, the Liberals brought forth legislation in which, at the eleventh hour, they added in clauses which would have given the unchecked power to tax, spend and incur debt, with no budget, no debate and no parliamentary oversight for 21 months.
After weeks of not sitting, the Liberals finally introduced a dramatically reduced Parliament for the next several months where MPs could ask questions, but other parliamentary abilities such as opposition day motions, emergency debates and many other daily functions did not occur. This was a crossroad in history for our democratic institutions and how it was going to operate during this world crisis at that time.
Conservatives strongly pushed back on giving the government ultimate financial power, and in May 2020, I flew back to Ottawa and was standing in the House of Commons debating these issues. My speech garnered national media attention as a rookie MP who was passionately standing up for democracy. I feel like we are in a similar situation with the Liberals going directly to the most extreme power. It is not stated enough that Canada is a great country. We have democratic government, equality, rule of law, some of the strongest human rights and environmental laws, a safe and civil society, job opportunities, social networks, civil liberties and freedoms.
It is important that we protect these. They are the reason why so many people want to visit and move to Canada. People have fought for the freedoms and the country we call home. We need to ensure that we have laws to protect all these and the governing structures that uphold our laws.
Prime Minister Mulroney saw the armed standoff in Oka. Gunfire was exchanged, and individuals tragically lost their lives. Prime Minister Chrétien saw the skies of the world close with 9/11 and the threat of terrorist violence at levels higher than any other time in our history. Prime Minister Harper saw the financial markets of the world collapse, and we saw the terror attack on Parliament Hill with a life lost.
In January 2020, protesters blockaded the rail lines and highways that bring trade and provide rail passenger service in Canada from coast to coast. They were at a standstill for a month. They also shut down ferries off the coast of British Columbia. In 2020 and 2021, the coronavirus pandemic brought our health care system and our economy to their knees. Also in 2021, my province of British Columbia was devastated by floods, mudslides and wildfires, affecting tens of thousands of people.
None of these crises brought any federal government of the day to invoke the federal Emergencies Act. To be clear, Conservatives have no issue with dialogue with Canadians seeking to protest peacefully, but that right to protest cannot include blockading infrastructure such as rail lines or border crossings. Free-flowing critical infrastructure is the law of this country and we must uphold it.
The government has falsely insinuated that Conservatives have been inconsistent on this. The party that has been truly inconsistent has been the Liberal Party. During the extensive rail blockades of 2020, due to protests, the government sent delegations to talk to those involved. Law enforcement from many jurisdictions used the various tools and laws available to them to end the rail blockades.
Just a few days ago, on February 17, reports of substantial damage surfaced on the Coastal GasLink Pipeline in B.C., an area that has seen protesters. There were attempts to set a vehicle on fire with workers in it; attackers wielding axes; flare guns fired at workers; cut hydraulic and fuel lines, which caused dangerous leaks; extensive damage to equipment and property; and people throwing smoke bombs at police.
Where are the Liberals on this situation? The appointed a law-breaking professional protester as . Their hypocrisy could not be clearer. When the Prime Minister agrees with the message of a protest, he opens up dialogue and maybe even perhaps attends. When he does not, he name calls, scolds and demands his government be allowed the same powers as if we were at war.
The words of the Liberal member for continue to ring true. When it comes to the 's government, wedging, dividing and stigmatizing is the way the Liberals choose to act. The Prime Minister's recent false accusation that members of the House stood with a swastika is only the most recent example of callousness. His refusal to apologize shows how he continues to be committed to that path of division. It is so disappointing to see this from the Prime Minister.
There are many people who came here to Ottawa from across the country who are law-abiding and who are peacefully protesting, wanting to be heard, including from Kelowna—Lake Country. Canadians know that when it comes to hateful imagery, language, intimidation, injury or damage that those individuals need to be held accountable. Every member of the House denounces these situations, and there are laws to address it.
The good news for Canadians is that our laws work and seem to be working, and protests have been peaceful. The border crossing at Coutts has been cleared, the Ambassador Bridge has been reopened, among others. Provincial governments and local police forces have been able to act with the laws of this Parliament, and those of the provincial and municipal governments across the country. Seven out of 10 provinces have come out against using the Emergencies Act.
The order in council released by the government authorizes itself to impose “other temporary measures authorized under section 19 of the Emergencies Act that are not yet known.” What does that mean? Just trust the and give him ultimate authority with no oversight? It also states that the “emergency exists throughout Canada”. That is not true.
The order in council also requires institutions to cease dealing with a designated person, defined as anyone associated with the protest. What does that mean? It is extremely vague. What if a person shared a tweet? It is being recorded that financial institutions are unclear what this entails. There appears to be broad discretion for the government.
They are invoking the Emergencies Act, but, as a national emergency, this does not meet the threshold for its justification. The choice of this government to seek to use the powers of the Emergencies Act is not for lack of options. It is the result of a lack of leadership from this . His government has been left embarrassed and now seeks to break glass on the most severe law.
Canadians are frustrated, and they are seeking hope. Conservatives tried to offer this government, just a week ago, the olive branch to do that. We put forth a motion calling on the government to light the way for the end of COVID-19 restrictions and mandates. We wanted the government to tell Canadians, 90% of whom are already vaccinated, and millions more boosted, the plan for when this will be over. Provinces are doing it, and other countries are doing it. We asked for a plan in our motion, and the Liberals and NDP refused to give one. They voted it down.
My constituency office has never received so many emails and phone calls over the last two weeks. This are not form letters. Thousands of people from Kelowna—Lake Country, many who had never reached out to their member of Parliament before, are supporting the Conservative motion to have a plan to end the mandates, and they are not supporting the Emergencies Act invocation. Here is just a brief sample of their comments.
“I used to be so proud to be Canadian...now I am not.”
“I am an RCMP member, 13 years, and it saddens me to see what is happening in this country.”
“I notice the Liberals are wanting to follow the money with the truckers blockage. I’m wondering if they are now willing to open up the WE contravene and follow the money in it?”
“Three weeks of peaceful protest & zero willingness from the liberal gov't to listen to those upset & sick & tired of mandates.”
“Under the Emergencies Act, Canada's financial institutions would be granted the power to freeze anyone's accounts without a court order. This IS most assuredly a brazen attack on our freedom of expression and cannot be tolerated. Enough is enough.”
“If it’s ONLY a fringe minority, then why invoke the Emergencies Act?”
“I'm a veteran of 20 years and right now I'm very disgusted to what is going on.”
“This not the Canada I know.”
The Liberals across the way are chirping at me, and they are laughing at the comments from my constituents in Kelowna—Lake Country. For people to consider for the next election, here is a quote from Prime Minister Harper, as retweeted by our current almost a decade ago. It says, “When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is when it's rapidly losing its moral authority to govern”.
I have looked at this motion, done my research, listened to people and heard from my Kelowna—Lake Country constituents. I absolutely cannot support confirming the Emergencies Act.
Madam Speaker, it is certainly a privilege today to speak on behalf of the people of Miramichi—Grand Lake.
After 14 years of life in politics, this speech kept me up at night. It caused me to consider so many different angles of what is truly happening. It took me back to some travelling I did as a young adult. I travelled extensively in Italy and France, I lived in South Korea for a time, and I stayed in Rome for one month.
While in Rome, I studied ancient history. We learned about the Emperor Nero. We learned about how, when Rome was burning in the year 64, he let the city go up in a blaze. Historians often pondered whether he played the fiddle while it was burning because he wanted to create a new palace amid the ashes. He blamed it on a small fringe minority of people called Christians. I learned that in ancient history.
In the afternoon on that study trip, we studied modern Italy. I learned about how the Italians were so thankful to Canadians for being liberated during World War II. I attended a ceremony in Thierville, Normandy in 2011, and spoke on behalf of the Province of New Brunswick. I witnessed the tears in real time of the people who lived in Juno, of the first houses liberated, and the respect they have for Canadians to this very day.
When I lived in South Korea, I was walking down the street late one night. I believe there was a 12-hour difference, and I was calling home. In the street, a drunken old man cursed me out because he did not like the sound of my voice. I was speaking English. What I realized later is that he thought I was American.
Some friends of mine who are Korean walked up to the man. They told him to be kind to me and that I was Canadian. I did not understand the language they were speaking. The old fellow, who could barely walk as he was intoxicated, walked up to me and kissed me on the cheek. He called me a oegug-in, which is a Canadian to a South Korean, and thanked me in his language for what our ancestors and veterans did in the Korean conflict. It is not lost on me, the respect our country has around the world and how we achieved it.
The question here today is an important one. We all believe in freedom. We all know how we achieved it. We have to ascertain what it means to each and every one of us. If people are listening in Miramichi—Grand Lake and watching today, I want to tell them that there is a difference between an emergency and an invocation of the Emergencies Act.
The act used to be called the War Measures Act. It was brought in during World War I and World War II. It was also brought in by then prime minister Trudeau in 1970, in what then leader of the NDP, Tommy Douglas, called basically a gargantuan oversight by an inept government.
This is the fourth time in our history. Now it is under the new name of the Emergencies Act. I need members to realize this act was not brought in for 9/11 under Prime Minister Chrétien. It was not brought in when Allan Legere, a serial killer, terrorized and horrified Miramichiers on a murdering rampage nobody in my community will ever forget. It was not brought in for the natural shale gas demonstrations on Route 11, which saw millions of dollars of seismic equipment destroyed and eight police cruisers bombed with molotov cocktails, while the people who managed the protest stood there with machine guns. When the RCMP was called to make it end, it ended abruptly. It did not end with what we used to call the War Measures Act. It did not end with what we now call the Emergencies Act.
The fact is that I am vaccinated, as are my wife and kids. Many people I know are vaccinated, and many people I know are not vaccinated. I believe it is a personal choice to be vaccinated, and I do not believe the of the nation should vilify those who have made the personal choice not to be. I do not believe in that. I could never believe in that.
For those following at home, today's speech is not about vaccinations. It is not even about mandates anymore. It is about whether we bring the Emergencies Act in to move protesters: dissenters of the Canadian public. I wonder about my own security. I walked through that every night for 14 days, in the dark and alone in temperatures of 20° to 30° below zero, without anyone escorting me. If this was a national crisis, who was protecting me?
The only way to find a cab was through those unlawful people, as mainstream media would have us believe. They asked me if I wanted a cheeseburger. One of them asked me if I wanted to dance. I cannot make this stuff up. One does not have to agree with the protest. One does not have to agree with why they are doing it, but one needs to see that when bridges and rail routes and trade routes were blocked, the blockages were removed almost instantly.
How did that happen? How did all of these other issues that happened in our jurisdiction get solved? They got solved by decency. They got solved by prime ministers who did not run and hide inside their own houses while their country was in turmoil because of a crisis started by the himself.
If my constituents are wondering about this, I did not run home to hide. I was one of the first members of Parliament to walk up to a transport and talk to some truck drivers. They were from Alberta. It was Saturday, January 29, before the convoy even hit Parliament Hill. Most of them were vaccinated. They were protesting for freedom. They believed their freedoms were being taken away.
How did sitting on the back of a flatbed with a few truck drivers make me a racist, misogynist member of Parliament? How did the member for , whose family experienced the Holocaust, get called a racist and a sympathizer?
The Government of Canada has been labelling Canadians for many, many months. The has traumatized Canadians by using divisive language, using constant wedge issues, resulting in the outright stigmatization of the Canadian identity, and the Prime Minister will not apologize for the labelling that he has done. He has hurled insults at everybody who disagrees with him.
The Prime Minister has used the following language and expressions to further traumatize Canadian citizens: These people. Unacceptable people. People who hold unacceptable views. Racists. Bigots. Terrorists. Misogynists, and people that take up space. People that take up space? I would like to think that all of us are allowed to take up a little bit of space in this country that we call Canada. The Prime Minister must wear the blame.
I want to leave colleagues with something. We must value and uphold freedom of speech and the diversity of opinions. We all have a relative in our past who fought for the freedom we share today. They sacrificed for the right to have different opinions from government and to live free in that perspective. Dissenting voices are part of our democracy.
I leave colleagues with the following. I am against the Emergencies Act because it is an overreach. Freezing bank accounts is something they do in communist states. This is a verse from the Bible, Philippians 2, verse 3-4:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
This is the Canadian way. To the world, Canada has always been a nation of peace and justice. It is time we witnessed that again while we are here at home.
Madam Speaker, I would like to advise you that I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I am addressing the House today in support of our government's invocation this past week of the Emergencies Act of 1988. I would normally say I am pleased to address this House, but today I am not pleased.
Today I am not pleased with the siege against Ottawa's residents, who have borne the brunt of the illegal occupation of their neighbourhoods. They have been living in fear, in fear that their apartment building may be torched by arson, in fear of being harassed, taunted or ridiculed on their walk to work or the grocery store.
I am not pleased for workers in Ottawa's downtown core, including the Rideau Centre, who have not been able to earn an income for three weeks now. I am not pleased for the business owners who had hoped to reopen after Ontario lifted its restrictions at the start of the occupation, only to have to shutter their businesses once again because of threats, intimidation and abuse by the occupiers.
I am not pleased for my staff, who are prevented from going to work out of fear and intimidation. The parliamentary precinct should be a safe place. Now it is not.
These are everyday Canadians who have been impacted by this illegal occupation. I am not happy for them. I am not pleased that these illegal occupiers are preventing our day-to-day interactions. I am not pleased that these innocent bystanders are experiencing hardships because of this illegal activity. I am sad for those who have had to undertake abuse, harassment and ridicule for following public health measures, the measures put in place to help protect our citizens and our health care system. Our doctors, nurses and health care workers are exhausted; I thank them.
I am sad for the hits to our economy, first hit hard by the pandemic itself and then again by the illegal whack-a-mole blockades spurred on by this siege in Ottawa. However, it is not only Ottawa that has been hurt. Ontario has been hurt, for example, by the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, forcing auto plant shutdowns among others. These illegal blockades are a blow to the economies of Alberta, where I was born and raised, as well as Manitoba and my present home province of British Columbia.
I know people are tired of public health restrictions. So am I, and so is pretty much everyone I know. I know that this pandemic is exhausting. It is challenging for all Canadians. It has been and will continue to be difficult for everyone. That frustration extends to the 90% of British Columbians who have rolled up their sleeves to receive the vaccine, yet such measures continue to be essential to reduce risk to our seniors and those who are immunocompromised, as well as to bring this pandemic eventually to heel.
I support B.C.'s measured approach to removing restrictions when and where possible, based on the state of the pandemic in the region. These actions are founded on good public health advice by highly qualified and experienced medical and public health practitioners. We must continue to listen to our public health officials so that we can continue to protect Canadians against this insidious disease, and that means protecting our health care systems and following public health guidelines.
Nobody likes the so-called vaccine passports, most certainly not me, but rather than seeing them as a divisive instrument, as many have chosen to do, we should see them as an opportunity that allows businesses, the economy and indeed travel to open up and carry on in a limited way, instead of having to completely shut down from time to time, as we had to do before we had such an abundance of tested, effective and safe vaccines. Nonetheless, they are the artifacts of the pandemic and they, as for the other pandemic-related measures, will abate in due course when the pandemic itself abates, not by merely wishing them away or demanding that the pandemic be ignored.
These are trying and emotional times, and it is in these most trying and emotional times that lawful, legitimate protests and sincere concern have been overtaken and overwhelmed. It is in these most trying and emotional times, with frustrations and tempers running high, that we have seen this unfortunate siege of Ottawa unfold, as well as many sympathetic whack-a-mole protests and blockades across the land.
In these most trying and dangerous times, the Ottawa Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police and others elsewhere in the nation were unable to take the kinds of actions that are now under way. Now we can bring this siege to a peaceful conclusion through the Emergencies Act, with resources made available and authorities clarified.
Our government took this bold step this week to ensure that law enforcement is adequately resourced to end the illegal occupation peacefully and safely. Yesterday we finally started to see happen what most Canadians wanted to see happen for the last several weeks: removal of those involved in these illegal occupations, peace restored, and a return to having a safe city in which to live and work.
It is paramount that Canadians understand what this act does and does not do. It is critical to understand that the measures derived from the Emergencies Act are specific, focused and proportional. Crucially, they are time-limited and include adequate democratic checks and balances. A key to this is a built-in 30-day sunset clause, whereby the measures are subject to ongoing oversight by a parliamentary committee, with Parliament maintaining its right to revoke the declaration of an emergency as it sees fit. Furthermore, a public inquiry to determine the circumstances leading to and measures taken during this unprecedented emergency must ensue afterward.
Most significantly, the Emergencies Act does not involve the military, nor does it in any way suspend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and this is explicit in the act. These rights particularly include peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and the right to life, liberty and security. The preamble of the Emergencies Act is crystal clear on this. It 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...
As a long-time active member of the Tri-Cities Chapter of Amnesty International, I fully respect and celebrate the Canadian reality that all Canadians have a right to protest, to speak their minds and to hold their elected representatives accountable. Even so, when we talk about rights, it must be clear that we do not have a right to block critical infrastructure like highways and hospitals. We do not have the right to intimidate, threaten or bully our fellow citizens, nor to deprive them of the safe enjoyment of their homes or disrupt their work or businesses.
Let must just mention that attempting to intimidate us with a manifesto demanding the removal of Canada's elected government is patently absurd, has no basis in any law anywhere and is not democratic. This is foolish anarchy, if not bluntly seditious, and it is a far cry from anything resembling the freedom that the siege purports to proclaim.
I know that most of those who support the protest themselves, whether that includes the blockades or not, are not anarchists or extremists. Most are sincere, everyday Canadians who are frustrated with restrictions. I get that, and I sympathize. Unfortunately, harassment and threats continue, and it is also clear that these linked events right across the country have been infiltrated by groups of white supremacists, Nazi sympathizers, people who are Islamophobic, anti-Semites and other garden variety racists, bigots or extremists. They leave an ugly and indelible taint wherever they are involved.
An excellent example is the seizure in Coutts in recent days of a significant cache of weapons held by individuals tied to extremist organizations. We also see dangerous behaviours, such as the man who drove a lifted pickup truck through a police barricade at Peace Arch crossing, and there are more examples. These and other threats underscore the embedded presence of small, systematized and perilous groups willing to intimidate and commit violence to achieve their own objectives, which typically do not reflect respect for our people, rights and institutions but do require our heightened vigilance.
However, even with the Emergencies Act in effect, I must emphasize that people can still protest and can certainly still disagree with the government, but they cannot join—
Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to take part in today's significant debate.
After what we all witnessed on the streets of our capital yesterday, I feel compelled to say we each have a solemn obligation and responsibility to steer clear of excessive partisanship and rhetoric today. What we saw in our national capital should serve as a sober reminder of our solemn obligation to prove resolute in exercising our responsibilities and vigilant in safeguarding the interests of all Canadians. I firmly believe we must each endeavour to steer clear of division and resort to the principles that guide us in our decision with respect to the specific motion at hand. After all, at times such as this, Canadians are entitled to nothing less from their elected officials.
The facts before us are not in dispute. Today marks the 23rd day of the blockade and occupation in Ottawa. Apart from entrenched encampments in Ottawa, we have witnessed weeks of protests at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor and at the border crossing in Coutts, Alberta. Each of these developments has represented a deliberate and concerted effort to stifle our commercial lifelines or to impede the flow of civic life.
Our democratic right to protest or freely express our views is one thing. A blockade, an entrenched occupation and a permanent gridlock are quite another. Let me say firmly and equivocally that it does not matter what an occupation is about. That is not what the motion before us is about. A protest is generally understood to be time-limited and should never be allowed to devolve into an indeterminate occupation that completely ignores the rights of others. Our government has listened and should always listen to the concerns of all Canadians.
Allow me to talk about the significance of the rule of law. We are blessed as a country and have served as a beacon to people around the world because of our unconditional adherence to the rule of law. That is exactly why I arrived here as a teenager with my family. We were fleeing hateful ideology and extremism of a revolutionary government that had no regard for individual rights or the rule of law. The rule of law is at the core and the very foundation of who we are. The rule of law stands for the proposition that every person is subject to the law and must be held accountable for their actions. That is why none of us should turn a blind eye to what has been unfolding across our country or in our nation's capital in the last several weeks.
Surely, members know that residents of Ottawa have been subjected to sonic assaults for weeks. We cannot overlook that many felt compelled to form citizen brigades against what was occurring here. We cannot remain indifferent to what we are hearing from the residents of Ottawa. Members of the House are also surely aware that hundreds of small businesses, many of which were frequented by members of the House, have felt compelled to remain closed for the past three weeks. Surely we are better than that. We know that some of the protesters were jamming 911 lines in the last several days.
Canadians rightly expect our government to demonstrate resolve in the face of what we have experienced across our country. The only responsible course of action was to invoke the Emergencies Act. We have been in contact with all levels of government and have consistently heard, whether from the chief of police of Ottawa, the mayor of Ottawa or the Premier of Ontario, that the city of Ottawa is under siege, entirely overwhelmed and lacking the resources and tools to deal with the situation at hand. Let me remind every member of the House that a state of emergency was declared by the City of Ottawa on February 6, by the Province of Ontario on February 11 and by the federal government on February 14.
The Emergencies Act spells out a clear process. Despite much of what we have heard today, the act is time-limited and targeted, and must at all times be applied in a reasonable and proportionate fashion. That does not limit anyone's freedom of expression, neither does it limit the freedom of peaceful assembly. The act is replete with specific checks and balances. The legislation, as adopted in 1988, is circumscribed with layers of built-in protection to ensure that our charter rights are fully safeguarded at all times.
The Progressive Conservative government that introduced the Emergencies Act in 1988 ensured that the invocation of the act be done in a charter-compliant fashion. We have heard a lot from members opposite that the facts do not justify the invocation of the Emergencies Act. If the backdrop of developments in Windsor, Coutts and Ottawa has not persuaded the hon. members, nor what we have heard from residents, the police chief, the mayor of Ottawa and the Premier of Ontario, they should consider the following: Let me assure them that the act requires not only a sober assessment of what has happened, but a consideration of possible threats on the horizon.
When Perrin Beatty, a minister of the Conservative government, was asked in committee what justification was required to invoke the Emergencies Act, back in 1988 this is what Mr. Beatty, a Conservative minister, had to say: “It depends not only on an assessment of the current facts of the situation, but even more on judgments about the direction events are in danger of moving and about how quickly the situation could deteriorate.” Mr. Beatty further added, “Judgments have to be made not just about what has happened, or is happening, but also what might happen.”
When the measures were invoked by our government, it was clearly stated that the situation across our country was concerning, volatile and unpredictable. I dare say not a single person in this chamber could possibly take issue with that assessment, so I would ask members of the House not only to refuse to turn a blind eye to what we have seen, but to not prove deaf to the assessment of the Ottawa chief of police, the mayor of Ottawa and the Premier of Ontario. As passionate as we can each be, we do not have licence to allow our judgments to substitute for what we have overwhelmingly heard from public safety officials and national security experts over the course of the last several days. It is imperative that we actually consider this thing and that we look beyond this chamber to determine whether this has been justified.
Madam Speaker, it is always a privilege to rise in this place and speak. Today, I am going to lay out my case as to why I am voting against continuing the Emergencies Act.
In the past 34 years, since the inception of the Emergencies Act, there have been four times when a national crisis was faced by a prime minister, and they each refused to implement the act. Brian Mulroney did not do it during the two-month Oka standoff outside of Montreal in 1990. Jean Chrétien did not need to invoke it after the terrorist attack of 9/11. Stephen Harper did not during the 2008 banking crisis. The did not use it during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw 35,000 deaths and the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression.
For the first time in Canadian history, a prime minister will use the Emergencies Act when authorities already have every legal tool at their disposal to deal with the situation before us today. For me, there are many concerning parts of the act now being used, including instructing financial institutions to seize assets and freeze bank accounts without due process. As of this moment, the has said that 76 bank accounts, worth a combined $3.2 million, have been frozen.
There are serious consequences of invoking this act, and ones that all parliamentarians need to reconcile with themselves before the vote on Monday. After 21 days of refusing to deal with the protest through a more civil and peaceful process, the government chose an act, the most heavy-handed, using the Emergencies Act.
Make no mistake, Madam Speaker. I do not support hate, nor do I find any legitimate rationale for the existence of groups that perpetuate discrimination, violence or hatred. I once again call on these blockades to end peacefully and quickly.
My constituency staff, who with unparalleled dedication and commitment have acted professionally and admirably during these trying times, have fielded hundreds of calls and emails from concerned and sometimes angry citizens.
For example, Kenneth and Lois from Bobcaygeon write, “There is no reason for this act to be used except fear from the Prime Minister. This could have all been avoided if the PM would have been willing to listen.”
Another Kawartha Lakes constituent writes, “I implore you not to support the Prime Minister in his attempt to enact the Emergencies Act. Not only is this a complete overreaction to the situation, one which in my opinion was brought about by the Prime Minister's refusal to listen to the convoy and also serves no one's best interests.” That was from Vanessa.
“We believe the government has overstepped their authority and are taking away our rights and freedoms”, write Peter and Lois.
This is just a small sample and cross-section of hundreds of similar messages that I am sure all of us in the House are receiving. These are the words of ordinary Canadians who fear the government has overreacted because of the failed leadership of the . The act is clear on when it should be implemented. It should only be invoked 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 Canada.”
The first question before us is whether the blockades seriously threaten Canada's sovereignty or territorial integrity, and whether there were no laws to deal with the protesters. The onus is on the federal government to demonstrate that the act was the only option left on the table.
National security experts have been expressing their concerns. For example, Leah West, a professor and national security expert at Carleton University, told the CBC that Canada was not facing the kind of public emergency that the act was designed to respond to, stating, “I'm kind of shocked, to be honest, that the government of Canada still actually believes that this meets the definition to even invoke the act”, adding, “I have real concerns about fudging the legal thresholds to invoke the most powerful federal law that we have.”
Surely, if there were a serious threat to our nation, provinces would be clamouring to the government for help, yet provinces have told the that they do not need the act and that they have already dealt with their protesters through listening and talking. It is here that I believe the entire debate hinges: Does the perceived threat that the government felt needed to be addressed, now that the provinces have their own capacity resolved, still exist and therefore justify the invoking of this act?
Furthermore, the second condition, that the situation “cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada”, has been disproven by the leadership displayed by many of Canada's premiers right across this country. The provinces and their police services did not need the extraordinary powers granted by the Emergencies Act, because they already had the authority to deal with this. It is unfortunate that the refused to follow the good governance practised by those premiers.
It is no wonder that Canadians who have been writing and calling, not just me but every member in the House, view the implementation of this act not under the auspices of protecting Canada, but rather of protecting the 's political failure.
We have heard that part of the justification for invoking the act was deliberate foreign extremist interference in our democracy, yet I have not seen any evidence from the government to indicate foreign powers or organizations behind the protests here in Canada. In fact, in committee last week, the deputy director of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, the national financial intelligence agency, said that there was no “spike in suspicious transaction[s]” and no sign of extremist groups issuing transactions to the protesters.
Part of the government's intention with the use of this act is also to track and reveal information regarding private individual financial transactions. This information is going to go to the RCMP, CSIS and FINTRAC, and will suspend accounts without judicial process. I led off my speech talking about that.
It is quite concerning that the government will not tell Parliament whether it consulted with the Privacy Commissioner regarding the use of this information. Kim Manchester, managing director of the financial intelligence training company ManchesterCF, warned in an interview with CTV that flagging accounts could financially ruin those targeted and make it difficult for them to get any financial services in the future. He said, “It's very tough on people when the activities of the Canadian government can lead to the financial meltdown of individuals associated with the protests who are guilty by association, by directive, and not by judicial process.”
In the same interview, Vanessa Iafolla, a crime consultant, said that use of the measure was a “serious [deviation] from the normal democratic processes that we generally expect to see in Canadian society.”
This legislation was created to deal with terrorist organizations and transnational organized crime syndicates, not Canadian truckers.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association's Noa Mendelsohn Aviv is concerned that “the act allows the government to...create new laws, bypassing democracy under what they have called a national emergency [and] they haven't presented any evidence that satisfies us that is in fact a national emergency as required”. The CCLA is suing the government for seriously infringing upon the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Paul Wells, in Maclean's on February 14, surmised:
I think the real explanation for today’s announcement came from [the deputy prime minister], who said it’s basically about the blocked Ambassador Bridge at Windsor. Inconveniently no longer blocked.... “We fought tooth and nail to protect Canada’s privileged relationship with the United States during the NAFTA negotiations,” the deputy prime minister said, “and we stood up to the 232 tariffs that were illegal and unjustified. We won’t let these hard-won victories be tarnished. The world is watching us. Our jobs, prosperity and livelihoods are at stake. That’s why the government is acting.”
The Emergencies Act is there to address extreme threats to Canada, not to protect the economy.
In 1978, approximately 30 countries were in some form of state of emergency. It had risen to 70 by 1986. By 1996, 147 countries had mechanisms to declare a state of emergency, a disturbing global trend that Canada now has the dubious honour of joining.
It is probably no coincidence that this historic announcement came only an hour after the government narrowly defeated the Conservative motion proposing that the government present a plan by the end of the month to lift federal mandates. The could see the writing on the wall, as his own caucus had started to revolt against him.
Rather than taking the diplomatic route, talking with the protesters, using the same media methods that he used to call them names, lowering the temperature, letting those with concerns know that they have been heard and laying out a plan to end the mandates and restrictions, like many provinces across the country and many countries around the world, he dug in his heels and brought out the sledgehammer. He is imposing the powers of the Emergencies Act, and it sets a dangerous precedent.
Most concerning of all is that young Canadians who have no direct connection to the historic struggles against fascism, socialism and communism are losing faith and interest in freedom and democracy. Those noble ideals have been tarnished, and this is contributing to what we are seeing today.
I will leave members with a quote: “there will be time later to reflect on all the lessons that can be learned from this situation.” This is what the told reporters last Monday afternoon.
I would argue that these lessons already exist. We do not have to go that far in history to look back and find them.
Madam Speaker, I rise today to address my fellow Canadians about the current state of events unfolding in our country. I want to express my concerns about the lack of leadership by this government.
In a shocking display of defeat, the and his government have taken the unprecedented step to enact the Emergencies Act, which is the successor of the War Measures Act. Since the inception of the Emergencies Act in 1988, it has never been invoked. Let me repeat, in 34 years, there has never been a single crisis in which a federal administration felt it essential to use such measures. Neither 9/11, nor the Oka crisis in 1990, nor even the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic itself was a sufficient national threat to warrant the authority currently being debated. The last time any federal government gave itself such sweeping, unchecked power was during the October crisis in 1970, after 200 bombs had been detonated in civilian areas. Furthermore, several nationwide protests have blocked critical infrastructure since the inception of the Emergencies Act, but none has met the threshold for enacting these sweeping powers, despite similar tangible threats to our country's security.
I trust we can all agree that violence, threats and blockades are never appropriate and should never be permitted, especially when they infringe upon our civil freedoms. All levels of government have choices for dealing with the current crisis that do not necessitate one of the country's most sweeping increases in government authority.
The blockades at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor posed an immediate threat to thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in international trade. However, it was clear that in one day, with a court order injunction and a strong police presence, notably, the situation was resolved without enacting exceptional measures, legislative discussion or government powers that had never been used before. The same was true for other blockades in Alberta and Manitoba.
As my hon. colleagues reminded us in the House recently, the assured Canadians that using this act was the last measure to respond, and he said that it is not the first thing you turn to, nor the second, nor the third. When asked what exactly the first and second actions taken by the government were, the responded by saying that his government “worked with municipal and provincial partners...to ensure that they had the resources and the support they needed”, as if that was not already an everyday expectation of the federal government.
It is clear that the Liberals cannot explain why they believe going beyond traditional legal options is necessary. Rather than considering the same laws that have already cleared blockades across the country, this government believes we should use military-style measures. Perhaps they have finally realized that their incompetency, inaction and drive to divide have left Canadians frustrated, and that the Liberals now making a big show will reflect positively.
Let me tell members that history will not look back fondly on this moment. The charter liberties that we all cherish are being threatened by actions the government cannot justify. What kind of precedent does it set for a government to so lazily use this heavy-handed legislation against its citizens? What will this mean for future demonstrations? Should Canadians not fear donating to movements and organizations, given that the current government believes it can declare such things illegal retroactively?
If, heaven forbid, we find ourselves in another global conflict in the future, would a government consider enacting the same measures put in place over a few weeks of disruptive protest? The international media is in shock over this action of our . It is no wonder, as he does not even have the slightest bit of regret about accusing Jewish members of standing with swastikas. Everyone can see that he is someone who prefers to slander and divide rather than unite and lead. This act may have never seen the light of day if not for the Prime Minister and his government.
Fortunately, the Liberals can consistently count on having the New Democrats as dance partners to help them shed accountability. The NDP used to be a party that stood with civil liberties. The last time such dramatic measures were used, in the October crisis, then NDP leader Tommy Douglas opposed the use of the War Measures Act for being overkill. Now, the modern NDP is doing its best to imitate the Liberals' disdain for dissent and opposition by preferring to point fingers rather than take responsibility for the instigation. The Liberal-NDP coalition is strong. Unfortunately for Canadians, it is strong enough to give the and his cabinet all the power they want.
It is a tragedy that we have arrived at this point. Canadians want the blockades to end. At the very least, the Conservatives want to return to normal. There are several critical issues on which Canadians deserve a thoughtful federal response. Inflation is surging to record highs. House prices have doubled since 2015 and people's mental health across the country requires serious attention. Despite these genuine concerns, though, the and his government are too preoccupied with covering up their failures, avoiding responsibility and blaming everyone else. Conservatives want to see an end to the confining mandates and a return to everyday life. We want a national leader who will act in the best interests of Canadian people.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from .
I stand with great sadness today to talk about the Emergencies Act because it is not something that any of us in this House, especially the , wanted to bring forward. We would not have if it were not absolutely necessary to do so. We need to look at the blockades that were going on last weekend at the Ambassador Bridge, in Coutts, Alberta, and Emerson and what was happening with trade. As chair of the international trade committee, I know these things are very important to all of us. The blockades were preventing goods, services and people from being able to cross those borders.
We know it cost $400 million a day at the Ambassador Bridge, aside from all of the personal issues that my colleague from mentioned earlier, such as people being prevented from getting to doctor appointments and nurses prevented from crossing the border to help us with the pandemic. That is a huge economic hit on all four fronts. That is aside from what we are dealing with here in Ottawa.
I would ask my Conservative colleagues that, if their communities were besieged for almost four weeks, would they have said they would like to go through another process of deputizing a whole lot of emergency police officers, which would take another five to six days? They would not have been happy to do that, and we were not able to allow this to go any further. The economic impact of this has been enormous, so it was critical that we move forward to ensure we have law and order.
The concern with what is going on is not just here, it is around the world. I guess the new thing for people do to try to disrupt governments is to bring in transport trucks, trailers and tractors, by some of these people on the extreme right, who then convince a whole lot of other people that this is about mandates. This has nothing to do with mandates or vaccines. This is all about trying to bring down a government and disrupt democracy. When we do not have democracy or law and order, what we are left with? What is happening today outside Parliament, in particular, is that law and order is being put into effect. People have been asked to please go home. The illegal blockade was not a regular protest, it was much more serious than that.
Interim chief of police Steve Bell, three other former chiefs of police in Ottawa and the former chief of police in London all said that the Emergencies Act, unfortunate as it is, absolutely had to be brought in before there was more violence than what we had seen so far. Without that act, it would be much more difficult. I know what last weekend and previous weekends were like. I can only imagine what this weekend would have been like with hundreds more people coming here every weekend to create more mayhem and disruption.
Let us talk about the children. At the foot of the steps of the gate into West Block, there is a bouncy castle and children skipping rope to try to show this as a pleasant little uprising of a protest. This was an illegal blockade that was using children as shields. I would tell anybody participating that it is not democracy when we are talking about children.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!