Emergencies Act not Warranted by Elizabeth Marshall

Elizabeth Marshall
Elizabeth Marshall

Over the past few weeks many Canadians have been watching the Inquiry on the use of the Emergencies Act, to remove the trucks from Ottawa, and the various border crossings.

What Canadians should have concern, regarding this use of this Act, is the laissez-faire attitude with which it was implemented.  If the government feels that the events, which were taking place in Ottawa, etc., warranted War-time measures, this philosophy/standard can be used at any time against any Canadians.  All Canadians should be thinking about that.

The other issue is, had these measures been used during the September 11, 2001 attacks, and weren’t – the bar had been set.  We did not use our War Measures section of the Emergencies Act during these events.  And yet, 9/11 was the first time NATO had used Article 5.  We must, also, not forget the FLQ/October Crisis.

From “Keeping Up with the Neighbours: Canadian Responses to 9/11 in Historical and Comparative Context Reg Whitaker, Osgood Hall Law Journal, Vol, 41, No: 2/3, 2003”:

“The RCMP believed that the crisis was essentially a criminal matter, to be solved by good, careful, patient police work. That was how, in the end, James Cross was liberated, and it might have saved Laporte’s life. Instead, the government, or at least the Prime Minister and his close Cabinet associates from Quebec (who in every instance of debate in Cabinet proved to be the hawks), disingenuously citing an exaggerated threat they knew to be false, chose to perform a coup de theatre, a striking demonstration of the power of the federal government and the futility of violent resistance to it. From a liberal standpoint, the October Crisis offers a salutary warning about how the state can lie and use pretexts to aggrandize its power and crush opposition…

”… Yet the historical precedents are double-edged. If they suggest a capacity for repressive and illiberal actions in the name of national security, it is also the case that the long-term result of both of these crises was to strengthen liberal democracy and the protection of civil liberties, as a direct consequence of revulsion generated by repressive and unaccountable state actions. This too is part of the historical background to the present crisis. Canadians have learned from experience about the consequences of overreaction….”

Whether the Inquiry brings forward a ruling in favour of the government, or not, the use of the Emergencies Act will always be an overreaction, the same as it was during the FLQ/October Crisis.  The Criminal Code of Canada has a multitude of sections which could have been used – none of which implement such extremist’s measures.  Whether Canadians agree or not with its implementation, all Canadians should be concerned that their own civil liberties will be so readily dismissed with a philosophy of “Just Watch Me.”

The bar had been set for the implementation of the War Measures/Emergencies Act – the use of it on February 14, 2022 did not meet that bar.

Elizabeth F. Marshall is President – All Rights Research Ltd., Director of Research – Ontario Landowners Association, Past Chair – Canadian Justice Review Board, Legislative/Legal Researcher – Lawyers, MPs, MPPs, Municipal Officials