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Civil Liberties Groups Taking The Federal Government To Court Over Invoking The Emergencies Act

KAWARTHA LAKES-The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)says the move by the federal government to invoke the Emergencies Act will “limit the rights of every single Canadian”.

“These are expansive emergency orders that apply equally across the entire country. They place unprecedented restrictions on every single Canadians constitutional rights. In other words, they apply to everyone. You, me, everyone. said Abby Deshman, CCLA. 

The group announced today that it will pursue litigation to challenge the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act.

“We have retained Ewa Krajewska of Henein Hutchison LLP to take the federal government to court. We have said all along that the federal government did not meet the high burden necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act,” said Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Executive Director of the CCLA.

“This morning I listened carefully to the Prime Minister and heard no new legal justifications for a national emergency and the enormous power the government is hoping to give to itself to bypass the typical democratic process.  Our society needs peaceful assembly – a critical democratic tool – even though not every person agrees with the content of every movement.”

“Some protests can even be disruptive. It is possible for a gathering to be both disruptive and also peaceful and nonviolent. Disruptive protest that may be unlawful, like blocking a pipeline or occupying a public space, can also be the most effective way of raising awareness for people who do not have power,” concluded Mendelsohn Aviv.

CCLA says they understand that some residents may have been harassed, intimidated or inconvenienced the situation in Ottawa but that there are laws already in place to deal with that.

“We do not want to minimize the impacts of the protests that are occurring across the country. But, while some of the blockades have been immensely disruptive, it is unclear that the ongoing protests “endanger the lives, health or safety of Canadians” so as to rise to the threshold of a national emergency under the law,” said Abby Deshman, Director of Criminal Justice for the CCLA.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the move would be limited to target geographical areas but the CCLA says that is not the case.

“The emergency orders that the government has tabled are not targeted. They are not limited to specific protests, or specific geographic locations. They are expansive emergency orders that have already come into effect and apply equally across the entire country. And they place unprecedented restrictions on every single Canadian’s constitutional rights.”

“The current emergency orders place significant limits on peaceful assembly across the entire country. They require financial institutions to turn over personal financial information to CSIS and the RCMP, and to freeze the bank accounts and cut off financial services provided to anyone who has attended, or who has provided assistance to those participating in, a prohibited assembly – all without judicial oversight.”

“It is in light of all these violations of civil liberties that we will be taking the government to court,” finished Deshman.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) has announced today it is also launching a legal challenge to the federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act. The challenge will be by way of urgent application for judicial review at the Federal Court.

“Prime Minister Trudeau has set a dangerous precedent by invoking the never before used federal Emergencies Act to address the current situation. The high threshold for declaring a public order emergency in the Emergencies Act has not been met. The Act has been invoked to address a failure to use existing legal tools under the Criminal Code, which were used effectively on the Ambassador Bridge. The federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act as a matter of political convenience. This is illegal and violates the rule of law, and that’s why we are challenging the government in court,” said CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn.
The Canadian Constitution Foundation is an independent and non-partisan organization established to defend the constitutional rights and freedoms of Canadians in the courts of law and public opinion.
CCF explains the Emergencies Act was enacted to replace the discredited War Measures Act, which was used during the Second World War to intern Japanese Canadians and Italian Canadians, and during the FLQ Crisis in Quebec.
“The Act is drafted carefully and narrowly, to ensure the federal government cannot abuse emergency powers ever again. The Act defines a national emergency as “an urgent and critical situation of a temporary nature that (a) seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it, or (b) seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada”. It also requires that the federal government demonstrate that this situation cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.” said a press release.
The CCF is represented by lawyers Sujit Choudhry and Janani Shanmuganathan.
“Emergency legislation should not be normalized. The threshold for using the Emergencies Act is extremely high and has not been met. The decision to invoke the Emergencies Act, which has never been used or interpreted by the courts, is unprecedented. If Parliament authorizes the proclamation of the public order emergency, the courts will be the last defence for the rule of law”, continued Van Geyn. “This isn’t about the convoy versus the city. This is about the rule of law.”



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Pamela Vanmeer
Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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