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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Liberals, NDP vote to pass Emergencies Act

by Sylene Argent

On Monday evening, Members of Parliament voted on the Emergency Measures Act, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked on Monday, February 14.

  Liberals and NDP voted in favour of the motion with 185 votes, while Conservative and the Bloc Québécois voted opposed with 151 votes.  

  Last Thursday, Trudeau rose in the House of Commons to talk about invoking the Emergencies Act, as they were in Week 3 of what he called the illegal blockades and occupations.

  “We did it to protect residents and small businesses. To protect jobs and the economy. We did it because the situation could not be dealt with under any other law in Canada. Mr. Speaker, we did it, because that’s what responsible leadership requires us to do. For the good of all Canadians, the illegal blockades and occupations have to stop and the borders have to remain open,” Trudeau said.

  He noted that as of Tuesday of last week, the border was opened in Southern Alberta, after the Coutts Blockade was dismantled. The RCMP, he added, arrested a small group of people within the larger blockade, “and seized firearms, ammunition, and body armour. It is believed this group was willing to use force against police officers,” he alleged.

  Last Wednesday, the blockade in Emerson, Manitoba was cleared without arrests or charges. In Windsor, he said Mayor Drew Dilkens claimed law enforcement was able to intersect a new convoy, suspected of heading to the Ambassador Bridge. In Ottawa, law enforcement had more tools and resources in order to give the people of the city their jobs, neighbourhoods, and freedoms back.

  Trudeau said invoking the Emergencies Act was not something done lightly. “It is not the first option, or even the second or the third. It is a last resort,” he commented.

  He added the scope of the Emergencies Act is time-limited and targeted. “As well as reasonable and proportionate. It strengthens and supports local law enforcement agencies, so they have more tools to restore order and protect critical infrastructure.”

  “I want to reassure Canadians, once the Emergencies Act is invoked, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms continues to protect their individual rights.”

  Members of Parliament spent a good deal of time debating the issue in the House of Commons last week, with Conservative members remaining steadfast in their opposition.

  “The eyes of the nation are upon us tonight,” Conservative MP for Barrie-Innisfil and House Leader of the Official Opposition, John Brassard, said on Monday evening before MPs voted on the Emergencies Act. “Earlier today, the Prime Minister signaled, as did a member of his backbench, that tonight’s vote is a confidence vote. Convention requires that the Prime Minister publicly declare a confidence vote of this nature, as such, following convention.”

  He asked if Monday’s vote was indeed a confidence vote, and if the Prime Minister would enact an election if it did not pass.

  Mark Holland, Liberal MP for Ajax and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, responded he appreciated the debate, but it was time to vote.

  Members of Parliament then voted on the motion, made by Trudeau and seconded by MP for Eglington-Lawrence, Marco Mendicino, that pursuant to Section 58 of the Emergencies Act, this House confirms the declaration of a public order emergency, proclaimed on February 14, 2022.

  The motion was carried with a majority vote.

  Interim Conservative Party Leader Candice Bergen then rose in the House of Commons to file, Pursuit to Section 59 of the Emergencies Act, a motion to revoke the Prime Minister’s Emergency Declaration that was claimed last week. In accordance with the act, she said, the motion is signed by more than twenty members of the Conservative Party.

  Holland then rose, interrupting Bergen, to note there is a House Order that the House would adjourn after the vote.

  “Conservative MPs stood up for Canadians and voted against this government overreach,” Bergen states in a press release on the matter. “The Emergencies Act was not necessary to clear the blockades. The government already had all the tools they need under current Canadian Law.

  “Liberal and NDP MPs will need to explain to Canadians why they are continuing to enforce a national state-of-emergency that gives the federal government far-reaching powers and authority,” her statement continues.

  Holland then thanked the staff who stayed over the course of the weekend. “It has been a long hour. It has been a historic debate.”

  Conservative Essex MP Chris Lewis voted against the motion, while NDP MP for Windsor West Brian Masse and Liberal MP for Windsor-Tecumseh Irek Kusmierczyk were in favour.

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