The Emergencies Act, which replaced the War Measures Act in 1988, has never been invoked before.
The act outlines several different types of emergencies. The Freedom Convoy protests best fit the definition of a "Public Order Emergency," which is defined as "an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada and that is so serious as to be a national emergency." An emergency must also "exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it."
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Under the terms of the act, the government would be empowered to restrict travel, public assembly, and "the use of specified property." The government could also compel "any person ... to render essential services" in return for "reasonable compensation."
With these powers, the Canadian government could ban truckers from downtown Ottawa, punish out-of-towners who travel to cities to protest, and force reticent tow-truck drivers to remove demonstrators' vehicles.
Trudeau's father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, invoked the War Measures Act during peacetime for the first and only time in Canadian history after Québécois separatists kidnapped Quebec's deputy premier in 1970. According to CBC, the declaration "allowed police searches and arrests without warrants, and prolonged detentions without charges and without the right to see a lawyer." More than 400 people were detained.
The emergency would go into effect immediately but would have to be approved by Parliament within seven days. Jagmeet Singh, who leads Canada's left-wing New Democratic Party, has said he would support Trudeau if he invokes the Emergencies Act, which would likely give Trudeau the votes he needs.
Singh also said the declaration of an emergency would be "proof of a failure of leadership."
Emergencies automatically expire after 30 days but can be extended.
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