Speed Reads

'massive power grab'

Canada's Conservative lawmakers call Trudeau 'dictator' as he defends his emergency declaration in Parliament

Conservative members of Canada's House of Commons lit into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday after he invoked the country's Emergencies Act earlier this week to crack down on the Freedom Convoy protests.

Conservative MP Andrew Scheer argued that when First Nations peoples blocked railroad lines and the path of a planned pipeline in 2020, Trudeau was willing to negotiate with the protesters, "but now that the protests are about something that he disagrees with, he uses inflammatory language, hurls personal attacks, and makes a massive power grab."

"We know the PM finds democracy inconvenient and that he admires China's dictatorship," Scheer continued. "So will the prime minister admit that this is all just a move to crack down on dissent?"

Scheer was not the only one to bring up comments Trudeau made about China when he was leader of the opposition.

"There's a level of admiration I actually have for China, because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime," Trudeau said at a 2013 fundraiser.

Nor was Scheer the only one to criticize Trudeau's handling of the protests. Candice Bergen, who became the Conservative Party's interim leader after Erin O'Toole was ousted earlier this month, rose to blast the prime minister for "call[ing] people he disagrees with racists, misogynists."

Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman called Trudeau's emergency declaration "unjustified."

Trudeau responded to Lantsman, who is Jewish, by saying Conservatives have chosen to "stand with people who wave swastikas."

Trudeau defended himself by insisting the protests were harming Canadians and by doubling down on his criticism of the demonstrators, drawing cries of "Dictator!" and other shouts of derision from the Conservative benches.

Debate in Canada's Westminster-style parliament tends to be more vigorous than in the U.S. House and Senate, but even so, Speaker of the House of Commons Anthony Rota was forced to intervene several times to restore order.