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Federal government's decision to invoke Emergencies Act against convoy protests was unreasonable, court rules

Police enforce an injunction against protesters in Ottawa on Feb. 19, 2022. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Police enforce an injunction against protesters in Ottawa on Feb. 19, 2022. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

A federal judge says the Liberal government's use of the Emergencies Act in early 2022 to clear convoy protesters was unreasonable.

The case was brought forward by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Constitution Foundation and individuals who argued Ottawa did not meet the legal threshold when it invoked the legislation, which had never been used before.

The two groups shared copies of the decision online.

Thousands of protesters angry with the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccine requirements, descended on Ottawa in January of 2022 and blocked border points elsewhere. The protesters parked large vehicles on key arteries in the capital city for nearly a month and honked their horns incessantly for days.

In order to declare a public order emergency, the Emergencies Act requires that there be "an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada that are so serious as to be a national emergency." The Act defers to CSIS's definition of "threats to the security of Canada."

Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley said the situation created by the protests did not meet that threshold.

"I have concluded that the decision to issue the Proclamation does not bear the hallmarks of reasonableness – justification, transparency and intelligibility – and was not justified in relation to the relevant factual and legal constraints that were required to be taken into consideration," he said in his decision.

More to come ...