As Justin settles into his darkened library in the night, blanket over his knees, alone with his thoughts– in a MacKenzie King moment, his father whispers to him from the darkness– haunting, possibly taunting him. Pierre Trudeau, the deceased former Prime Minister spirit shadowing his young son the high school teacher and latest Prime Minister; as his lesser equipped son try’s to find out how to remove a Peterbilt from in front of the Centre Block.
“The Emergencies Act? Really son, you think that this is comparable to my day when I was facing the FLQ”
“Dad these people are “terrorists”.
“well not really son, …those Quebec bastards in October of 1970 were real terrorists..or at least that was the way they were acting. They kidnapped people and even killed a Provincial cabinet minister. They were actually plotting the secession from Canada.”
“but these guys Dad, they are not like us, they are all white supremacy extremists, you know the type, redneck roughnecks from that middle part of Canada.. they even put a ball cap on the statue of Terry Fox… and those damn horns…the noise Dad, the noise…besides the media are all over me, comparing me to you, portraying me as ineffectual and weak.”
“Yes son, I hear them, but let’s face it you are not me. You know I always hoped you would become more like me than your mother. But, if it will make you feel better, go for it. Keep in mind, you can’t let up if you want to stick to this narrative, you need to keep using those words of insurrection and occupation, that they are a threat to national security. Let’s face it, this doesn’t really meet the definition of a national emergency. Keep referring to them as Nazi’s, nobody likes a Nazi. You will be alright in the end because by the time it goes through a week in the House and the Senate, everything will be long over, and you can at least look decisive and not really have to face any of the negative consequences”.
“True… thanks Dad I feel better now”.
Other than being visited by the ghost of his political upbringing, there can be no better explanation for Mr. Trudeau Jr. to now step up. Clearly he does not know history and maybe he hasn’t even read the Emergencies Act, after all it has never been used before, so why would he. What he did know was that he was getting angry with “those people”, he was getting angry that no tow truck drivers would cooperate, he was getting angry with the media egging him on questioning his ability to govern and his toughness. He was getting especially angry that people around the world were paying attention to the dispute in Canada; how was it possible that the enlightened leader of Canada could be being called out, dispelling the Canadian utopian image.
Even Grandpa Joe called from the U.S. to say, hey get on with it, those cars need their parts.
To understand the Emergencies Act, one must first understand its predecessor, the War Measures Act.
The War Measures Act which gave broad powers to the Federal government was to be instituted as a “declaration of war, invasion or insurrection”. Which would explain the Liberals deftly referring to an “insurrection” all the time now. The need for WMA and its imposition came about only three times. During WWI, WWII, and during the 1970 “October Crisis”.
During WWI, between 1914 and 1920 it was enacted to intern Ukranians and some other Europeans, who were declared “enemy aliens”. It also allowed them to disallow any person who had membership in a “socialist or communist organization”. We have since apologized for our behaviour.
It was used during WWII to intern the Japanese. We have since apologized about our behaviour then too.
And it was used in October 1970 to thwart the Front du Liberation de Quebec, who kidnapped James Cross and Pierre Laporte. Laporte was later found murdered. The FLQ were making demands and pushing the Province secession from Canada. The Army invaded the streets of Montreal and by the end of it 465 people were arrested without charges and eventually released. The law effectively removed the need for habeas corpus.
The War Measures Act in 1970 was not without dissenters. The NDP leader Tommy Douglas said the that Pierre Trudeau was using a “sledgehammer to crack a peanut”, and the separatists argued that they were criminalizing the separatist movement. To this day, the decision to enact at that time was dividing. This may explain why Yves Blanchett last year asked for apologies for the enactment of the War Measures Act for his fellow Quebecers. (This would also explain why the Premier of Quebec is now saying that he wants assurances that the Emergencies Act will not be employed in Quebec.)
Ironically, when it was discovered that the RCMP may have exceeded their authorities during this time of the War Measures Act implementation, they ordered a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Activities of the RCMP; known as the McDonald Commission. After a lengthy inquiry the McDonald Commission recommended a curtailing of the War Measures Act, which led to the production of the now in the news Emergencies Act.
The new now apparently gentler Emergencies Act, which has taken its place and is front and centre in the news of today, lays out four criteria for its implementation.
- a public welfare emergency
- a public order emergency
- an international emergency
- a war emergency.
In the regulations you will also find that in order for conditions to be met for the implementation of this Emergencies Act, it has to be pre-determined that “the existing laws of Canada are not effective in addressing the situation”
If any of the above criteria are met, and that is a big if. this Act would allow the government to “ban gatherings” around such things as national monuments and the legislatures” , and to make there be “protected places” such as Justin’s house. It would “prohibit public assembly… other than lawful advocacy or protest or dissent”. It would allow the government and the banks to determine who was providing funds through platforms such as GoFundMe and the like, and it would allow the government to freeze the bank accounts of those that contributed.
So as we examine the criteria, does this constitute a public welfare emergency? Across this nation is the welfare of the public in danger. Well, if not that then, is this a public order emergency? Is there a need for public order across this country? Do you now feel threatened sitting in Vancouver, in Calgary, in Halifax right now? Maybe in Ottawa off Bank Street, but now this protest into its third week and slowly being dismantled has been determined as a public order emergency? Is this a threat to all Canadians or just to the shrill folks of the Ottawa Police Board?
In terms of the criteria in points 3 and 4. Neither of the latter are applicable.
So how do we explain this ongoing lunacy?
Is the infringement of human rights a legitimate concern? If the answer is yes, why is it that the Prime Minister refuses to meet with them? He clearly went down the political path of labelling them, speaking down to them, and could not personally relate to them. He orchestrated this dialogue and thus put himself nicely in a diplomatic box. His stubborn attitude and ego is keeping him there.
To explain this lack of dialogue, he had to turn up the heat to prove that these people were illegitimate. The convoy raised a great deal of money during their trek to Ottawa, so they even went after the GoFundMe page, and the page folded to that political pressure.
They went after the fringe players that are always drawn to any type of anti-government protest. Lets face it, all protests draw the lunatic fringe. When the indigenous were protesting did they go after the flags they were showing, the tearing down of statutes they were orchestrating, or the multiple torching of churches? Did they examine those involved in the Indigenous protest and seek out the radical few on Twitter or Instagram? Did they stop any funding to the Indigenous?
Do you think Black Lives Matter has a few radical elements? Do they think the environmental protestors had not radicals. Of course, they all do. So what makes this different?
The police in all this are in the usual difficult position of trying to smoothe out a litany of missteps by our illustrious politicians. The “progressive” Ottawa Police chief resigned. The Ottawa police board has now fallen apart as the politicos are throwing around recriminations and in-fighting. The Federal Liberals have been trying to direct the investigation of the convoy from the outset, even trying to direct where the trucks should be parked but most importantly effectively orchestrating the us versus them dialogue with inflammatory language and accusations. (Yesterday in Parliament Trudeau accused a Jewish Conservative member of being in favour of the Nazis—in the category of you can’t make this up)
Are the existing laws of Canada not sufficient to quell this “uprising”?
It seems that when pushed the police are charging people and arresting people and towing away some vehicles. So the laws are there, but the willingness to enforce, and the resources to enforce are in short supply–lets face it they underestimated the support this convoy would generate.
Do you think it is coincidence that this convoy has been compared to the January 6th uprising in the United States, which the Democrats in that country are working hard to try and prove that Trump was trying to overthrow the duly elected government. Similar claims of right wing Aryan nation types abound in that dialogue too. Proof of it is far less compelling.
Now the government is pointing to four individuals who have been arrested and charged with “plotting to murder RCMP officers” and nine charges of mischief and weapons offences against nine others. The police press release says that they launched into an “immediate and complex investigation to determine the threat and criminal organization”. The group of four conspirators, all of whom work for a lighting group in Calgary, had “three trailers” associated to them and a warrant was duly executed. In it they found 13 long guns, a handgun, body armour and a machete along with ammunition.
This could require some thoughtful dissecting. It was acknowledged that the conspiracy to commit murder of the RCMP officers stems from, in the police wording, that this group had a “willingness to use force if any attempts were made to disrupt the blockade”.
Not for a moment do I think that these are unwarranted charges. If they were planning to bring out the guns if the police moved in, they should be prosecuted and the police applauded for cutting off potential violence.
My only question is the portrayal of the investigation as a discovered attempt for insurrection and a “conspiracy to commit murder”, planned resistance being far different legally and morally, then planning to go out to kill police officers.
Looking at the background of those charged and the various ages of those involved, one also wonders whether this would constitute a normal person’s version of a no named “criminal organization.”
It all just makes you wonder where all this ends up when it goes through the inevitable court siphon.
But Trudeau, Freeland, and Mendocino know one thing.
The majority of Canadians according to the latest poll want the convoy to end, and they don’t mind if some people get hurt.
68% of Canadians felt that they wanted the military and the police to do so by force.
Just 26% of Canadians thought that they wanted a negotiated settlement.
Paradoxically 54% a slight majority are not impressed with the politicians.
Maybe the people of this country who have been willing to set aside their civil rights in the fight against a virus, comprised of a generation of individuals who have never faced a real crisis such as war, are now more willing to take it out on others. The media portrayal has indeed worked while to be fair, even some of the journalists were thwarted when asking for the evidence. The overall effect however has been an us versus them, good versus evil. The always right against the perpetually wrong.
It is time they say, and clearly believe, to unleash the power of the government on the people who disagree and dare to voice those concerns.
In this writer’s opinion, this is a sad and dark day for Canada. Not for the actions of the police but for the actions of the politicians carried out by the police.
If things go badly in the next few days, and people get hurt, including the police, my guess is that years from now, we will be apologizing once again. The police are now facing an intransigent group, a cornered dog that has had rocks thrown at it for three weeks, and now is facing clubs being swung at its head. Some may bar their teeth and snap back even though a leader in the convoy said that if approached they will take a knee.
My hope though is that in a few years this will not be remembered, the overtime cheques will have been duly paid, and we are left with this having been a tempest in the teapot. One albeit, that was totally avoidable. All we needed to do was listen.
Then all the restrictions will be off– something the convoy wanted from the beginning.
Photo courtesy of Hailey Sani of Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved
3 thoughts on “The Sledgehammer and the Peanuts…”
Couldn’t agree more. Well put. The police have successfully navigated the border blockades. No need for the giant sledgehammer to be produced. I would opine any charges and seizures will fail on the first instance of the efficacy of the invoking the Act. The grounds are just not there, ergo, it all fails.
I wholeheartedly agree with you, Peter. Well said.
The political incident regarding the truck blocking and continuing demonstrations in Ottawa is a debacle consistent with the non-leadership evidenced by government. As you mentioned in your article, the indigenous “truth and reconciliation” matter was created over a political incident of residential schools and was rewarded by a $331 million (Indigenous go-fund-me source) reward, based on no credible evidence. The trucking matter at least is a cry presented by evidence of discrimination. The truckers and company should know when enough is enough. I agree, Law and Order is important and should be enforced equally in all circumstances, with some dignity and respect.