February 14, 2022 Declaration of Public Order Emergency: Explanation pursuant to subsection 58(1) of the Emergencies Act
Declaration of Public Order Emergency
On February 14, 2022, the Governor in Council directed that a proclamation be issued pursuant to subsection 17(1) of the Emergencies Act declaring that a public order emergency exists throughout Canada that necessitates the taking of special temporary measures for dealing with the emergency.
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. Threats to the security of Canada include the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political or ideological objective. A national emergency is an urgent, temporary and critical situation that seriously endangers the health and safety of Canadians that cannot be effectively dealt with by the provinces or territories, or that seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada. It must be a situation that cannot be effectively dealt with by any other law of Canada. Any measures taken under the Act must be exercised in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and should be carefully tailored to limit any impact on Charter rights to what is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.
The Proclamation Declaring a Public Order Emergency made on February 14, 2022 specified that the public order emergency is constituted of:
- the continuing blockades by both persons and motor vehicles that is occurring at various locations throughout Canada and the continuing threats to oppose measures to remove the blockades, including by force, which blockades are being carried on in conjunction with activities that are directed toward or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property, including critical infrastructure, for the purpose of achieving a political or ideological objective within Canada,
- the adverse effects on the Canadian economy — recovering from the impact of the pandemic known as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — and threats to its economic security resulting from the impacts of blockades of critical infrastructure, including trade corridors and international border crossings,
- the adverse effects resulting from the impacts of the blockades on Canada’s relationship with its trading partners, including the United States (U.S.), that are detrimental to the interests of Canada,
- the breakdown in the distribution chain and availability of essential goods, services and resources caused by the existing blockades and the risk that this breakdown will continue as blockades continue and increase in number, and
- the potential for an increase in the level of unrest and violence that would further threaten the safety and security of Canadians.
The proclamation specifies six types of temporary measures that may be necessary to deal with the public order emergency:
- measures to regulate or prohibit any public assembly — other than lawful advocacy, protest or dissent — that may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of the peace, or the travel to, from or within any specified area, to regulate or prohibit the use of specified property, including goods to be used with respect to a blockade, and to designate and secure protected places, including critical infrastructure,
- measures to authorize or direct any person to render essential services of a type that the person is competent to provide, including services related to removal, towing and storage of any vehicle, equipment, structure or other object that is part of a blockade anywhere in Canada, to relieve the impacts of the blockades on Canada’s public and economic safety, including measures to identify those essential services and the persons competent to render them and to provide reasonable compensation in respect of services so rendered,
- measures to authorize or direct any person to render essential services to relieve the impacts of the blockade, including measures to regulate or prohibit the use of property to fund or support the blockade, to require any crowdfunding platform and payment processor to report certain transactions to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada and to require any financial service provider to determine whether they have in their possession or control property that belongs to a person who participates in the blockade,
- measures to authorize the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to enforce municipal and provincial laws by means of incorporation by reference,
- the imposition of fines or imprisonment for contravention of any order or regulation made under section 19 of the Emergencies Act; and
- other temporary measures authorized under section 19 of the Emergencies Act that are not yet known.
These measures have been implemented by the Emergency Measures Regulations and the Emergency Economic Measures Order.
Section 58(1) of the Emergencies Act requires that a motion for confirmation of a declaration of emergency, signed by a Minister of the Crown, together with an explanation of the reasons for issuing the declaration and a report on any consultation with the lieutenant governors in council of the provinces with respect to the declaration, be laid before each House of Parliament within seven sitting days after the declaration is issued.
Background leading to the declaration of emergency
The “Freedom Convoy 2022” was the first manifestation of this growing movement centered on anti-government sentiments related to the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Trucker convoys began their journey from various points in the country, and the movement arrived in Ottawa on Friday, January 28, 2022. Since then, the movement has only continued to gain momentum across the country, with significant increase in numbers in Ottawa as well as protests and blockades spreading in different locations, including strategic ports of entry (e.g., Ambassador Bridge, Ontario; Coutts, Alberta; and Emerson, Manitoba).
Participants of these activities have adopted a number of tactics that are threatening, causing fear, disrupting the peace, impacting the Canadian economy, and feeding a general sense of public unrest – either in favour or against the movement. This has included harassing and berating citizens and members of the media, slow roll activity, slowing down traffic and creating traffic jams, in particular near ports of entry, as well as reports of protesters bringing children to protest sites to limit the level and types of law enforcement intervention. The movement has moved beyond a peaceful protest, and there is significant evidence of illegal activity underway. Regular citizens, municipalities and the province of Ontario have all participated in court proceedings seeking injunctive relief to manage the threats and impacts caused by the convoy’s activities, and a proposed class-action has been filed on behalf of residents of Ottawa.
Anecdotal reports of donations from outside Canada to support the protesters were given credence when, on February 13, 2022, hackers of the crowdfunding website, GiveSendGo.com, released hacked data that revealed information about donors and the amount of donations directed to the protesters. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s February 14, 2022 analysis of the data, 55.7% of the 92,844 donations made public were made by donors in the U.S., compared to 39% of donors located in Canada. The remaining donors were in other countries, with the U.K. being the most common. The amount donated by U.S. donors totaled $3.6 million (USD). Many of the donations were made anonymously.
Requests for Assistance and Consultations
The federal government has been in contact with its provincial counterparts throughout this situation. Some requests for federal support to deal with the blockades were from:
- the City of Ottawa for policing services;
- the Province of Ontario with respect to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario; and
- the Province of Alberta with respect to tow truck capacity at the Coutts port of entry.
For further details on the consultations, please see the Report to the Houses of Parliament: Emergencies Act Consultations.
Emergency Measures Taken by Ontario and other provinces
On February 11, 2022, the Province of Ontario declared a province-wide state of emergency under its Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, in response to the interference with transportation and other critical infrastructure throughout the province, which is preventing the movement of people and delivery of essential goods.
Measures that have since been implemented under these emergency measures include: fines and possible imprisonment for protesters refusing to leave, with penalties of $100,000 and up to one year of imprisonment for non-compliance.
On February 12, 2022, the Ontario Government also enacted legislation under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, (Ontario Regulation 71/22) making it illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure. New Brunswick has announced that it will update its Emergency Act to prohibit stopping or parking a vehicle or otherwise contributing to the interruption of the normal flow of vehicle traffic on any road or highway. Nova Scotia similarly issued a directive under its Emergency Management Act prohibiting protests from blockading a highway near the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border.
No other province has signaled its intent to take similar steps.
As detailed in the Reasons below, the convoy activities have led to an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada and that is so serious as to be a national emergency.
Reasons for Public Order Emergency
The situation across the country remains concerning, volatile and unpredictable. The decision to issue the declaration was informed by an assessment of the overall, national situation and robust discussions at three meetings of the Incident Response Group on February 10, 12 and 13, 2022.
The intent of these measures is to supplement provincial and territorial authorities to address the blockades and occupation and to restore public order, the rule of law and confidence in Canada’s institutions. These time-limited measures will be used only where needed depending on the nature of the threat and its evolution and would not displace or replace provincial and territorial authorities, nor would they derogate provinces and territories’ authority to direct their police forces. The convoy activities and their impact constituting the reasons for the emergency as set out in the Proclamation Declaring a Public Order Emergency are detailed below:
i. The continuing blockades by both persons and motor vehicles that is occurring at various locations throughout Canada and the continuing threats to oppose measures to remove the blockades, including by force, which blockades are being carried on in conjunction with activities that are directed toward or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property, including critical infrastructure, for the purpose of achieving a political or ideological objective within Canada;
The protests have become a rallying point for anti-government and anti-authority, anti-vaccination, conspiracy theory and white supremacist groups throughout Canada and other Western countries. The protesters have varying ideological grievances, with demands ranging from an end to all public health restrictions to the overthrow of the elected government. As one example, protest organizers have suggested forming a coalition government with opposition parties and the involvement of Governor General Mary Simon. This suggestion appears to be an evolution of a previous proposal from a widely circulated “memorandum of understanding” from a group called “Canada Unity” that is taking part in the convoy. The “memorandum of understanding” proposed that the Senate and Governor General could agree to join them in forming a committee to order the revocation of COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates.
Tactics adopted by protesters in support of these aims include slow roll activity, slowing down traffic and creating traffic jams, in particular near ports of entry, as well as reports of protesters bringing children to protest sites to limit the level and types of law enforcement intervention. The intent of the protestors at ports of entry was to impede the importation and exportation of goods across the Canada-U.S. border in order to achieve a change in the Government of Canada’s COVID health measures in addition to other government policies.
Trucks and personal vehicles in the National Capital Region continue to disrupt daily life in Ottawa and have caused retail and other businesses to shutter. Local tow truck drivers have refused to work with governments to remove trucks in the blockade. The Chief of the Ottawa Police Service resigned on February 15, 2022 in response to criticism of the police’s response to the protests.
Convoy supporters formerly employed in law enforcement and the military have appeared alongside organizers and may be providing them with logistical and security advice, which may pose operational challenges for law enforcement should policing techniques and tactics be revealed to convoy participants. There is evidence of coordination between the various convoys and blockades.
Violent incidents and threats of violence and arrests related to the protests have been reported across Canada. The RCMP’s recent seizure of a cache of firearms with a large quantity of ammunition in Coutts, Alberta, indicated that there are elements within the protests that have intentions to engage in violence. Ideologically motivated violent extremism adherents may feel empowered by the level of disorder resulting from the protests. Violent online rhetoric, increased threats against public officials and the physical presence of ideological extremists at protests also indicate that there is a risk of serious violence and the potential for lone actor attackers to conduct terrorism attacks.
To help manage these blockades and their significant adverse impacts, the Emergency Measures Regulations prohibit certain types of public assemblies (“prohibited assemblies”) that may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of the peace by: (i) the serious disruption of the movement of persons or goods or the serous interference with trade; (ii) interference with the functioning of critical infrastructure; or (iii) the support the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property. They also prohibit individuals from (i) participating or causing minors to participate in prohibited assemblies; (ii) travelling to or within an area where prohibited assemblies are taking place, or causing minors to travel to or within 500 metres of a prohibited assembly, subject to certain exceptions; and (iii) directly or indirectly using, collecting, providing, making available or soliciting property to facilitate or participate in a prohibited assembly or to benefit any person who is facilitating or participating in a prohibited assembly. Foreign nationals are also prohibited from entering Canada with the intent to participate or facilitate a prohibited public assembly, subject to certain exceptions.
The Emergency Management Regulations also designate certain places as protected and provide that they may be secured, including Parliament Hill and the parliamentary precinct, critical infrastructures, official residences, government and defence buildings, and war memorials.
ii. The adverse effects on the Canadian economy — recovering from the impact of the pandemic known as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — and threats to its economic security resulting from the impacts of blockades of critical infrastructure, including trade corridors and international border crossings
Trade and transportation within Canada and between Canada and the U.S. is highly integrated. Border crossing, railway lines, airports and ports of entry are integrated and are adversely affected where one or more of the components is blockaded or prevented from operating under normal capacity.
Trade between Canada and the U.S. is crucial to the economy and the lives and welfare of all Canadians. Approximately 75% of Canadian exports go to the U.S., generating approximately $2 billion in imports/exports per day and $774 billion in total trade between the two countries in 2021.
Blockades and protests at numerous points along the Canada–U.S. border have already had a severe impact on Canada’s economy. Protests at the major ports of entry at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario; Emerson, Manitoba; Coutts Alberta; and, Pacific Highway in British Columbia, each of which is critical to the international movement of people and goods, required the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to suspend services.
An essential trading corridor, the Ambassador Bridge is Canada’s busiest crossing, handling over $140 billion in merchandise trade in 2021. It accounted for 26% of the country’s exports moved by road in 2021 ($63 billion out of $242 billion) and 33% of the country’s imports ($80 billion out of $240 billion). Since the blockades began at the Ambassador Bridge, over $390 million in trade each day with Canada’s most important trading partner, the U.S., has been affected, resulting in the loss of employee wages, reduced automotive processing capacity and overall production loss in an industry already hampered by the supply shortage of critical electronic components. This bridge supports 30% of all trade by road between Canada and the U.S. The blockades in Coutts, Alberta, and Emerson, Manitoba, have affected approximately $48 million and $73 million in trade each day, respectively. These recent events targeting Canada’s high volume commercial ports of entry have irreparably harmed the confidence that our trading partners have in Canada’s ability to effectively contribute to the global economy and will result in manufacturers reassessing their manufacturing investments in Canada, impacting the health and welfare of thousands of Canadians.
In addition, throughout the week leading up to February 14, 2022, there were 12 additional protests that directly impacted port of entry operations. At two locations, Pacific Highway and Fort Erie, protestors had breached the confines of the CBSA plaza resulting in CBSA officers locking down the office to prevent additional protestors from gaining entry.
More specifically, disruptions at strategic ports of entry in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario prior to the declaration of the emergency included:
- Ambassador Bridge, Windsor, Ontario:
- The busiest crossing along the Canada-U.S. border had been blocked since February 7, 2022. After an injunction was issued on February 11, 2022, law enforcement started to disperse protesters. On February 13, 2022, police enforcement action continued with reports of arrests being made and vehicles towed. As of the evening of February 13, 2022, the Ambassador Bridge has been fully reopened, and no delays at the border crossing are being reported, but efforts continue to ensure that the bridge remains open.
- Sarnia, Ontario:
- On February 8, 2022, two large groups of protestors conducted a blockade of the provincial highway leading to and from the Sarnia Blue Water Bridge. This port of entry is Canada’s second busiest border crossing with imports and exports serving the oil and gas, perishable foods, livestock and automotive sectors. The protest resulted in the suspension of all outbound movement of commercial and traveller vehicles to the U.S. along with reduced inbound capacity for incoming conveyances. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) were able to restore order to the immediate area of the port of entry after ten hours of border disruption. On February 9, 2022, members of one of the protest groups established a highway blockade approximately 30 kilometres east of Sarnia on the provincial highway, resulting in the diversion of international traffic to emergency detour routes to gain access to the border. This activity continued until February 14, 2022 when access to the portion of the highway was restored.
- Fort Erie, Ontario:
- On February 12, 2022, a large protest targeted the CBSA Peace Bridge port of entry at Fort Erie, Ontario. This port of entry is Canada’s third busiest land border crossing responsible for millions of dollars in international trade each day of perishable goods, manufacturing components and courier shipments of personal and business goods being imported and exported. The protest disrupted inbound traffic for a portion of the day on February 12, 2022 and resulted in the blockade of outbound traffic until February 14, 2022 when the OPP and Niagara Regional Police were able to restore security of the trade corridor linking the provincial highway to the border crossing.
- Emerson, Manitoba:
- As of February 13, 2022, vehicles of the blockade remain north of the port of entry. Some local traveller traffic was able to enter Canada, however commercial shipments are unable to use the highway North of Emerson resulting in disruptions to live animal, perishable and manufactured goods shipments into Canada and exports to the U.S. The protesters have allowed some live animal shipments to proceed through the blockade for export to the U.S.
- Coutts, Alberta:
- The blockade began on January 29, 2022, resulting in the disruption of Canada and U.S. border traffic. This port of entry is a critical commercial border point for the movement of live animals, oil and gas, perishable and manufactured goods destined for Alberta and western Saskatchewan. As of February 14, 2022, the RCMP, who is the police of jurisdiction pursuant to the provincial Police Service Agreement, have arrested 11 individuals and seized a cache of weapons and ammunition. Four of these individuals were charged with conspiracy to commit murder, in addition to other offences. The RCMP restored access to the provincial highway North of Coutts on February 15, 2022 and border services were fully restored, but efforts continue to ensure that it remains open.
- Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), and Metro area:
- On February 12, 2022, several vehicles including a military-style vehicle broke through an RCMP barricade in south Surrey, BC, on their way to the Pacific Highway port of entry. Protesters forced the highway closure at the Canada-U.S. border in Surrey.
In addition, on February 12, 2022, police in Cornwall, Ontario warned of potential border delays and blockages due to protests.
These blockades and protests directly threaten the security of Canada’s borders, with the potential to endanger the ability of Canada to manage the flow of goods and people across the border and the safety of CBSA officers and to undermine the trust and coordination between CBSA officials and their American partners. Additional blockades are anticipated. While Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act authorizes persons to provide assistance, it specifically does not compel them to do so. Tow truck operators remain free to decline requests to tow vehicles that were part of the blockades and they have refused to render assistance to the government of Ontario. It was beyond the capacity of the province of Ontario to ensure in a timely manner that tow trucks could be used to clear vehicles. The emergency measures now allow the federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness or any other person acting on their behalf to immediately compel individuals to provide and render essential goods and services for the removal, towing or storage of any vehicle or other object that is part of a blockade and provides that reasonable compensation will be payable. Individuals who suffer loss or damage because of actions taken under these Regulations may apply for compensation.
Threats were also made to block railway lines, which would result in significant disruptions. Canada’s freight rail industry transports more than $310 billion worth of goods each year on a network that runs from coast to coast. Canada’s freight railways serve customers in almost every part of the Canadian economy: from manufacturing to the agricultural, natural resource, wholesale and retail sectors. In addition, freight railways have Canadian operating revenues of more than $16 billion a year.
The impact on important trade corridors and the risk to the reputation of Canada as a stable, predictable and reliable location for investment may be jeopardized if disruptions continue. The current federal and provincial financial systems are ill-equipped to mitigate the adverse effects of the economic impact without additional measures. The Emergency Economic Measures Order requires a comprehensive list of financial service providers to determine whether any of the property in their possession or control belong to protesters participating in the illegal blockades and to cease dealing with those protesters. Financial service providers who would otherwise be outside federal jurisdiction are subject to the Order. Given the ability to move financial resources between financial service providers without regard to their geographic location or whether they are provincially- or federally-regulated, it is essential that all financial service providers be subject to the Order if protesters are to be prevented from accessing financial services. The importance of this measure is highlighted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s recent reporting about the crowdfunding website, GiveSendGo.com, which indicated that the majority of the donations to the protests were made by donors outside of Canada.
Before the new measures, in respect of insurance, provinces would only be able to cancel or suspend policies for vehicles registered in that province. Protestors from different provinces would not be subject to, for example, the Government of Ontario’s powers under its declaration of a state of emergency to cancel licenses of vehicles participating in blockades or prohibited assemblies. The emergency measures now require insurance companies to cancel or suspend the insurance of any vehicle or person while that person or vehicle is taking part in a prohibited assembly as defined under the new Emergency Measures Regulations.
iii. the adverse effects resulting from the impacts of the blockades on Canada’s relationship with its trading partners, including the U.S., that are detrimental to the interests of Canada
The U.S. has expressed concerns related to the economic impacts of blockades at the borders, as well as possible impacts on violent extremist movements. During a call with President Joe Biden on February 11, 2022, the critical importance of resolving access to the Ambassador Bridge and other ports of entry as quickly as possible was discussed, given their role as vital bilateral trade corridors, and as essential to the extensive interconnections between our two countries.
Disruptions at ports of entry have significant impacts on trade with U.S. partners and the already fragile supply chain, and have resulted in temporary closures of manufacturing sites, job loss, and loss of revenues. One week of the Ambassador Bridge blockade alone is estimated to have caused a total economic loss of $51 million for U.S. working people and businesses in the automotive and transportation industry. Consequently, the protests have been the cause of significant criticism and concern from U.S. political, industry and labour leaders.
The Governor of Michigan has issued several statements expressing her frustration with the ongoing protests and blockade and the damage they are doing to her state and constituents. Similar frustrations have been voiced by the General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Canada-U.S. Business Association. The blockades and protests are of such concern to the U.S government that the Department of Homeland Security Secretary has offered its assistance in ending the protests.
More generally, the protests and blockades are eroding confidence in Canada as a place to invest and do business. Politicians in Michigan have already speculated that disruptions in cross border trade may lead them to seek domestic, as opposed to Canadian, suppliers for automotive parts.
iv. The breakdown in the distribution chain and availability of essential goods, services and resources caused by the existing blockades and the risk that this breakdown will continue as blockades continue and increase in number
Canada has a uniquely vulnerable trade and transportation system. Relative to global competitors, Canadian products travel significantly further, through challenging geography and climate conditions. Moreover, trade and transport within Canada, and between Canada and the U.S. is highly integrated.
The closure of, and threats against, crucial ports of entry along the Canada-U.S. border has not only had an adverse impact on Canada’s economy, it has also imperiled the welfare of Canadians by disrupting the transport of crucial goods, medical supplies, food, and fuel across the U.S.- Canada border. A failure to keep international crossings open could result in a shortage of crucial medicine, food and fuel.
In addition to the blockades along the border, protesters attempted to impede access to the MacDonald-Cartier International Airport in Ottawa and threatened to blockade railway lines. The result of a railway blockade would be significant. As noted above, Canada’s freight rail industry transports more than $310 billion worth of goods each year on a network that runs from coast to coast. Canada’s freight railways serve customers in almost every part of the Canadian economy: from manufacturing, to the agricultural, natural resource, wholesale and retail sectors.
v. The potential for an increase in the level of unrest and violence that would further threaten the safety and security of Canadians
The protests and blockades pose severe risks to public safety. While municipal and provincial authorities have taken decisive action in key affected areas, such as law enforcement activity at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, considerable effort was necessary to restore access to the site and will be required to maintain access.
There is significant evidence of illegal activity to date and the situation across the country remains concerning, volatile and unpredictable. The Freedom Convoy could also lead to an increase in the number of individuals who support ideologically motivated violent extremism (IMVE) and the prospect for serious violence. Proponents of IMVE are driven by a range of influences rather than a singular belief system. IMVE radicalization is more often caused by a combination of ideas and grievances resulting in a personalized worldview. The resulting worldview often centres on the willingness to incite, enable or mobilize violence.
On February 14, 2022, the RCMP arrested numerous individuals in Coutts, Alberta associated with a known IMVE group who had been engaged with the protests and seized a cache of firearms with a large quantity of ammunition, which indicates that there are elements within this movement that intend to engage in violence. Four of these individuals were charged with conspiracy to commit murder, in addition to other offences.
Since the convoy began, there has been a significant increase in the number and duration of incidents involving criminality associated with public order events related to anti-public health measures and there have been serious threats of violence assessed to be politically or ideologically motivated. Two bomb threats were made to Vancouver hospitals and numerous suspicious packages containing rhetoric that references the hanging of politicians and potentially noxious substances were sent to offices of Members of Parliament in Nova Scotia. While a link to the convoy has not yet been established in either case, these threats are consistent with an overall uptick in threats made against public officials and health care workers. A number of threats were noted regarding the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border demonstration set for February 12, 2022, including a call to bring “arms” to respond to police if necessary. An Ottawa tow truck operator reported that he received death threats from protest supporters who mistakenly believed he provided assistance to the police.
The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) has been dealing with multiple threats arising from the protests. In early February, 2022, the SQ was called in to provide protection to the National Assembly in response to the convoy protests in Quebec City. Some individuals associated with the protests had threatened to take up arms and attack the National Assembly. This led to all parties at the National Assembly strongly denouncing all threats of violence. While that protest was not accompanied by violence, the threat has not ended; the protesters have stated that they plan to return on February 19, 2022. At the same time, the SQ is also dealing with threats of protests and blockades along Quebec’s border with New York State. This requires the SQ to deploy resources to establish checkpoints and ensure that crucial ports of entry remain open.
Other incidents which have occurred during the course of the blockades point to efforts by U.S.- based supporters of IMVE to join protests in Canada, or to conduct sympathetic disruptive blockades on the U.S. side of ports of entry. In some cases, individuals were openly carrying weapons. U.S.-based individuals, some openly espousing violent extremist rhetoric, have employed a variety of social media and other methods to express support for the ongoing blockades, to advocate for further disruptions, and to make threats of serious violence against Canadian law enforcement and the Government of Canada.
Several individuals with U.S. status have attempted to enter Canada with the stated purpose of joining the blockades. One high profile individual is known to have openly expressed opposition to COVID-19-related health measures, including vaccine mandates and has attempted to import materials to Canada for the express purpose of supporting individuals participating in the blockades.
As of February 14, 2022, approximately 500 vehicles, most of them commercial trucks, were parked in Ottawa’s downtown core. There have been reports of protesters engaging in hate crimes, breaking into businesses and residences, and threatening law enforcement and Ottawa residents.
Protesters have refused to comply with injunctions covering downtown Ottawa and the Ambassador Bridge and recent legislation enacted by the Ontario Government under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (Ontario Regulation 71/22), which makes it illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure. In Ottawa, the Ottawa Police Service has been unable to enforce the rule of law in the downtown core due to the overwhelming volume of protesters and the Police’s ability to respond to other emergencies has been hampered by the flooding of Ottawa’s 911 hotline, including by individuals from outside Canada. The occupation of the downtown core has also hindered the ability of emergency medical responders to attend medical emergencies in a timely way and has led to the cancellation of many medical appointments.
The inability of municipal and provincial authorities to enforce the law or control the protests may lead to a further reduction in public confidence in police and other Canadian institutions.
The situation in downtown Ottawa also impedes the proper functioning of the federal government and the ability of federal government officials and other workers to enter their workplaces in the downtown core safely.
Furthermore, the protests jeopardize Canada’s ability to fulfil its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as a host of the diplomatic community and pose risks to foreign embassies, their staff and their access to their diplomatic premises.
The ongoing Freedom Convoy 2022 has created a critical, urgent, temporary situation that is national in scope and cannot effectively be dealt with under any other law of Canada. The blockades of the ports of entry have disrupted the transportation of crucial medicine, goods, fuel and food to Canadians and are causing significant adverse effects on Canada’s economy, relationship with trading partners and supply chains. These trade disruptions, the increase in criminal activity, the occupation of downtown Ottawa and the threats of violence and presence of firearms at protests – along with the other reasons detailed above – constitute a public order emergency, an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada and that is so serious as to be a national emergency. The types of measures set out in the February 14, 2022 Proclamation Declaring a Public Order Emergency are necessary in order to supplement provincial and territorial authorities to address the blockades and occupation and to restore public order, the rule of law and confidence in Canada’s institutions. The measures have been carefully tailored such that any potential effects on rights protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.
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