Trudeau, premiers discussing Emergencies Act to battle blockades across Canada

Act allows government to invoke temporary measures, including barring people from gathering

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is consulting the premiers about using the Emergencies Act as antigovernment blockades continue to paralyze Ottawa and shutter multiple border crossings with the United States.

Trudeau met with his cabinet for an urgent meeting Sunday night and is on a phone call with provincial and territorial premiers today.

A source aware of the planned conversation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, confirms the prime minister is talking to the premiers about using the legislation as the Emergencies Act’s criteria requires.

Trudeau also briefed his caucus early this morning in a virtual meeting held two days before the Liberals’ regularly scheduled Wednesday gathering.

The Emergencies Act allows a government to invoke temporary measures, including barring people from gathering or travelling to certain locations, to protect national security, public order and public welfare.

It has never been used before. Trudeau consulted the premiers about using it in the early days of the COVID−19 pandemic nearly two years ago, but has said repeatedly it was not needed because the powers to address the pandemic were already in place.

The Emergencies Act replaced the War Measures Act in 1988 and is more limited in what it can do, including requiring parliamentary oversight. All measures invoked under the Emergencies Act must also comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The War Measures Act was used three times, including in both the First World War and Second World War, and during the FLQ crisis in Quebec in 1970.

feature image: The Canadian Press