Trudeau government violated Charter
On Family Day, Monday, February 21, 2022, a historic vote took place in the House of Commons.
The vote was to invoke the Emergencies Act. Prime Minister Trudeau also designated this vote as a “confidence vote.” If the vote had not passed, the Prime Minister could potentially have called for another election.
As usual with this Prime Minister, he knew that polling numbers indicated that a majority of Canadians supported using the Emergencies Act to end the “freedom convoy” protests in downtown Ottawa.
However, a problem emerged. The legal standard to invoke the Emergencies Act didn’t include polling numbers, so its potential political popularity for Trudeau at that time didn’t meet the legal threshold stated in the Emergencies Act.
This was a point asserted by myself, other members of the Conservative official opposition, numerous legal scholars, and groups like the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. This is why the entire Conservative caucus voted against invoking the Emergencies Act.
The federal NDP pledged support for invoking the Emergencies Act before Prime Minister Trudeau even tabled the details of the proposal in the House of Commons. At the time, some Liberal and NDP MPs claimed that an “act of attempted arson” occurred by the protestors, and that guns were found in Ottawa during the protest. These claims were based on false and inaccurate media reports.
As the Canadian Civil Liberties Association describes it:
“The Emergencies Act can 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 last part is critical “when the situation ‘cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.” As many of us pointed out at the time, other existing laws have been successfully used to deal with protests in other parts of Canada, including during the “freedom convoy” protests. Ultimately, this issue ended up in the Federal Court thanks to the determined efforts of a number of individuals and groups, particularly the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Constitution Foundation. This week, Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley ruled that Trudeau’s use of the Emergencies Act “against convoy protests was unreasonable and violated Charter” (as reported by CBC). The Judge stated that there “was no national emergency justifying the invocation of the Emergencies Act.”
This is a significant legal defeat for the Trudeau Liberal government, which immediately announced its intention to appeal the federal court ruling.
Usually, a government will want to review a court ruling for some time before appealing. The sudden response to appeal by the government indicates to me that they either anticipated a negative ruling and had made their calculation to appeal or responded reflexively.
In either case, the response raises an interesting pattern that I see in my interactions with constituents. As the Member of Parliament for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, many constituents have expressed their disapproval of the increasing trend of Provincial and Federal Governments deploying their vast legal resources to appeal what they perceive as flawed legislation or decisions.
These are seen as politically driven rather than based on legal principles, especially when a court finds a government’s arguments lacking.
In a time when Canadians are struggling to pay their bills, it seems to them that senior levels of government prefer to spend scarce taxpayer dollars on lawyers for what they consider to be lost causes. These funds could otherwise support our health care system, bolster police enforcement, rebuild our military or let Canadians keep more of their own money.
Many constituents would prefer some humility from the government and move on instead of doubling down on flawed decisions.
My question this week:
Do you agree with Prime Minister Trudeau’s decision to appeal this ruling? Why or why not?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free 1-800-667-8711