Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has activated emergency powers to end the COVID-19 protests that have overtaken most of downtown Ottawa and disturbed U.S. border crossings.
“The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety,” Trudeau said Monday in announcing the changes. “We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue.”
The Emergencies Act gives the government the authority to cut off funding to the protesters and reinforce provincial and local law enforcement with federal police. Police in the capital city of Ottawa, have been criticized for their failure to disassemble the Parliament Hill “Freedom Convoy.”
“Despite their best efforts, it is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement’s ability to effectively enforce the law,” Trudeau, who has so far declined to negotiate with the protest leaders, also said about his decision to send federal back up to the provinces.
Meanwhile, Canadian Civil Liberties Association and similar groups argue the national government has not met the standards necessary for invoking the emergency powers, which the CCLA says are designed to interfere with threats to “sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.”
The Canadian Parliament will be asked to approve the use of the emergency measures inside of a week.
The New Democrat party says it will support Trudeau’s Liberal minority government to approve the measures. Trudeau says the use of the emergency powers will be geographically targeted and in effect for just a short period of time.
Last week, protesters blocked the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Windsor, Canada, with Detroit, resulting in several auto factory shutdowns in the surrounding area.