Invoking Emergencies Act Had More to Do With Partisan Politics Than Canada’s Interests

Commentary It would be an understatement to say that the last two years have been uniquely challenging for Canadians. That said, they were mostly characterized by a united show of solidarity in the face of an unprecedented pandemic; one glaring exception being the last few weeks, which put on full display the growing divisions and frustrations in our country. While there is much blame to go around for much of what makes up our current public discourse, the blame for the events we saw unfold in our country’s capital last month fall at the feet of one person and one person only, and that is Justin Trudeau. From the very beginning, the prime minister has used the pandemic to prey on the fears of Canadians and to wedge and divide for political benefit. Starting with the weaponization and politicization of vaccines during the last federal election, he effectively categorized the vaccine-hesitant and opponents of vaccine mandates as the “Other.” Mr. Trudeau then interpreted his re-election as an admission to continue with his divide-and-conquer approach and to push through with punitive measures on the unvaccinated. Faced with growing opposition from his vindictive mandate on truckers, he resorted to shaming and name-calling, accusing those who disagreed with him of being racists, misogynists, and white supremacists. When thousands of frustrated Canadians showed up at his doorstep, he dismissed them as a “fringe minority” with “unacceptable views.” His blatant refusal to simply engage with the truckers was marked by a need to not provide them with any sort of legitimacy. In the face of growing international attention and pressure from the protest, he brought down the sledgehammer by invoking the unprecedented powers of the Emergencies Act, citing a severe threat posed to our security and democracy, and a lack of other available options. And then, almost as quickly and mysteriously as he adopted it in the first place, he revoked it, and the alarmist rhetoric along with it. The immediate removal of the Emergencies Act was the right thing to do, second to never invoking it in the first place. However, the damage done by Prime Minister Trudeau’s unfounded overreach on our democracy and public discourse cannot be understated. The right to protest is a fundamental element of our democracy, and must be championed and defended at all costs. Equally as important is the rule of law, which must always be upheld. The blockading of critical infrastructure is not acceptable. That being said, protests are not emergencies, and any disruptions that inevitably come from them must be handled by law enforcement using the laws already at their disposal, and by politicians pushing for resolution and dialogue. It falls on all parliamentarians, but especially on the prime minister, to call for unity in times of crisis and to dialogue with those who express frustration. The vocalizing of grievances by citizens is not (and should never be regarded as) an inconvenience—it is active participation in our democratic process. Justin Trudeau’s blatant refusal to meet with the Canadians that he is tasked with representing is a huge admission of failure in his obligation as prime minister to uphold our principles and to be a leader for all Canadians. It was only two years ago that anti-pipeline protestors blockaded and effectively shut down Canada’s rail system for two weeks. In that instance, the prime minister called for “dialogue and mutual respect.” In 2020, when Black Lives Matter took to the streets by the thousands in violation of COVID restrictions, the prime minister joined in. Unlike now, Trudeau never threatened the use of the Emergencies Act, nor did he disparage and dismiss the protesters, despite the fact that the protests of 2020 were arguably more threatening to the country’s interests and welfare. The blatant display of double-standard, along with the immediate reversal of the Emergencies Act just two days after its approval in the House of Commons, confirms what many of us knew to be true from the start, which is that its invocation had less to do with the danger posed by the trucker convoy and more to do with Mr. Trudeau’s political agenda and his relentless inclination to put partisan politics ahead of the country’s interests. Canadians would do well to not forget. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Follow Leo Housakos is a Canadian senator representing Quebec. He served as the speaker of the Senate in 2015.

Invoking Emergencies Act Had More to Do With Partisan Politics Than Canada’s Interests

Commentary

It would be an understatement to say that the last two years have been uniquely challenging for Canadians. That said, they were mostly characterized by a united show of solidarity in the face of an unprecedented pandemic; one glaring exception being the last few weeks, which put on full display the growing divisions and frustrations in our country.

While there is much blame to go around for much of what makes up our current public discourse, the blame for the events we saw unfold in our country’s capital last month fall at the feet of one person and one person only, and that is Justin Trudeau.

From the very beginning, the prime minister has used the pandemic to prey on the fears of Canadians and to wedge and divide for political benefit.

Starting with the weaponization and politicization of vaccines during the last federal election, he effectively categorized the vaccine-hesitant and opponents of vaccine mandates as the “Other.” Mr. Trudeau then interpreted his re-election as an admission to continue with his divide-and-conquer approach and to push through with punitive measures on the unvaccinated.

Faced with growing opposition from his vindictive mandate on truckers, he resorted to shaming and name-calling, accusing those who disagreed with him of being racists, misogynists, and white supremacists.

When thousands of frustrated Canadians showed up at his doorstep, he dismissed them as a “fringe minority” with “unacceptable views.” His blatant refusal to simply engage with the truckers was marked by a need to not provide them with any sort of legitimacy.

In the face of growing international attention and pressure from the protest, he brought down the sledgehammer by invoking the unprecedented powers of the Emergencies Act, citing a severe threat posed to our security and democracy, and a lack of other available options. And then, almost as quickly and mysteriously as he adopted it in the first place, he revoked it, and the alarmist rhetoric along with it.

The immediate removal of the Emergencies Act was the right thing to do, second to never invoking it in the first place. However, the damage done by Prime Minister Trudeau’s unfounded overreach on our democracy and public discourse cannot be understated.

The right to protest is a fundamental element of our democracy, and must be championed and defended at all costs. Equally as important is the rule of law, which must always be upheld. The blockading of critical infrastructure is not acceptable. That being said, protests are not emergencies, and any disruptions that inevitably come from them must be handled by law enforcement using the laws already at their disposal, and by politicians pushing for resolution and dialogue.

It falls on all parliamentarians, but especially on the prime minister, to call for unity in times of crisis and to dialogue with those who express frustration. The vocalizing of grievances by citizens is not (and should never be regarded as) an inconvenience—it is active participation in our democratic process. Justin Trudeau’s blatant refusal to meet with the Canadians that he is tasked with representing is a huge admission of failure in his obligation as prime minister to uphold our principles and to be a leader for all Canadians.

It was only two years ago that anti-pipeline protestors blockaded and effectively shut down Canada’s rail system for two weeks. In that instance, the prime minister called for “dialogue and mutual respect.” In 2020, when Black Lives Matter took to the streets by the thousands in violation of COVID restrictions, the prime minister joined in.

Unlike now, Trudeau never threatened the use of the Emergencies Act, nor did he disparage and dismiss the protesters, despite the fact that the protests of 2020 were arguably more threatening to the country’s interests and welfare.

The blatant display of double-standard, along with the immediate reversal of the Emergencies Act just two days after its approval in the House of Commons, confirms what many of us knew to be true from the start, which is that its invocation had less to do with the danger posed by the trucker convoy and more to do with Mr. Trudeau’s political agenda and his relentless inclination to put partisan politics ahead of the country’s interests.

Canadians would do well to not forget.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Leo Housakos is a Canadian senator representing Quebec. He served as the speaker of the Senate in 2015.