The Truckers & Trudeau
The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asserts historic emergency powers in an attempt to stop protests.
The high stakes and why this matters.
- Late January: Truckers drive from western Canada, heading to Ottawa in formation – often called the “Freedom Convoy”
- The catalyst: COVID-19 vaccination mandate for Canadian truckers (or quarantine, testing).
- The protest quickly evolved to include others (not necessarily truckers) against the government’s strict pandemic measures.
- The Ottawa protests have been peaceful but disruptive, particularly by causing traffic jams – which have expanded to some of the busiest trading routes in North America.
"We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue."
Prime Minister Trudeau invoking the “Emergencies Act” to temporarily suspend certain civil rights for those protesting in order to stop their actions (for example, law enforcement can seize a trucker’s rig). He says the measures do not limit freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, or the right to protest legally but are “… reinforcing the principals, values and institutions that keep all Canadians free.” PM Trudeau can assert this act but needs approval from the broader govt for it to stay in effect.
“This is the biggest, greatest, most severe test Trudeau has faced.”
Prof. Wesley Wark, University of Ottawa and national security expert, on the political and leadership challenges PM Trudeau faces. Provincial leaders have voiced varying opinions on the use of the emergency measures – some in support, others saying they will make matters worse. The question remains to what extent PM Trudeau is willing to go to stop the protests; he says he will not call in the military.
"We will hold the line."
Protestor Tamara Lich. Some Canadians have protested AGAINST the trucking protestors; there have also been accusations of outside extremist groups fueling discord. Canada has enforced strict restrictions during the pandemic, incl. vaccine mandates for most people ages 12 and older, and limitations on gatherings. However, several provinces – incl. Ontario and Alberta – have announced plans to begin lifting pandemic restrictions. Some argue PM Trudeau can end the protests by simply lifting more of the mandates.
Interesting context for the historic action by PM Trudeau: “An earlier version of the Emergencies Act, called the War Measures Act, was used just once during peacetime, by Trudeau’s late father, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, to deal with a militant Quebec independence movement in 1970.” (AP)
The Freedom Convoy has inspired protests worldwide against what some perceive as government overreach during the pandemic.
Good overview by the Associated Press: Canada’s Trudeau invokes emergency powers to quell protests
WATCH PM Trudeau
Here is the original requirement for Canadian truckers (and others) crossing the border: Requirements for truckers entering Canada in effect as of January 15, 2022
by Jenna Lee,