Civil Liberties Group ‘Disappointed’ With Liberals for Making Vote on Emergencies Act a Confidence Matter

By Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.
February 22, 2022 Updated: February 22, 2022

A Canadian civil liberties group said it is “disappointed” with the Liberal government’s move to make voting on the use of the Emergencies Act a matter of confidence.

“We are deeply disappointed the government chose to make tonight’s vote a matter of confidence. This morning, we asked the government to revoke the emergency declaration and barring that, to at minimum commit to a free vote in Parliament,” the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) said on Twitter on Feb. 21.

“Instead the government made it a confidence matter and we have seen numerous government MPs express both publicly and in confidence to us that they would vote against the emergency declaration if given a chance.”

The group said there is “no legal justification” for using the Emergencies Act, which gives sweeping additional powers to the police to handle protesters who have stayed in Ottawa over the past three weeks to oppose the federal COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.

“Let’s be clear: there is no legal justification for using the emergencies act. The broad powers the government has granted to police curtail Charter rights across the country. This risk of abuse is high. The emergency declaration should be immediately revoked,” the CCLA said in another tweet.

The Association issued the statement after the House of Commons voted to pass the motion to approve the extraordinary and temporary measures of the Act on Feb. 21.

The motion was passed along party lines, with the Liberals and NDP voting in favour and the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois voting against it.

Prior to the vote, some Conservative and Bloc Quebecois MPs said the standard hadn’t been met to implement the emergency measures.

Conservatives had asked for clarification ahead of the vote as to whether it was a confidence vote.

Liberal House Leader Mark Holland didn’t answer the question directly, saying, “It’s time to vote.”

Some Liberal MPs also said they weren’t certain if the Act is warranted.

Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith had said ahead of the vote that he wasn’t sure the use of the act was justified but said he would still vote along the party line because “it is now a confidence vote.”

Fellow Liberal MP Joël Lightbound, who broke ranks with his party earlier in February by criticizing his party’s leadership for politicizing pandemic policies, said ahead of the vote that the Act was “a slippery slope.”

Both MPs voted in favour of the motion on the evening of Feb. 21.

Epoch Times Photo
Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Mark Holland rises to vote on the implementation of the Emergencies Act, in Ottawa, on Feb. 21, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)

The protest in Ottawa initially started after a federal vaccine mandate took effect on Jan. 15 requiring all truck drivers crossing back into Canada from the United States to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be subject to two-week quarantine upon reentry. As large convoys of trucks rolled across the country and arrived in Ottawa on Jan. 29 to protest the measures, more protesters joined in Ottawa and elsewhere in the country to oppose all pandemic-related mandates.

On Feb. 14, Prime Minister Justine Trudeau declared a state of emergency and invoked the Emergencies Act to give authorities additional powers to oust the protesters, such as compelling tow truck companies to remove vehicles blocking streets or lanes.

Several financial measures were also added to reduce funding for the protests, such as allowing banks to freeze accounts of individuals and corporations involved in the protests without a court order.

On Feb. 17, the CCLA said in a press release that it will file an application for judicial review in federal court requesting an order to quash the use of the act.

A separate constitutional rights group, the Canadian Constitution Foundation, also announced in a press release on Feb. 17 its plan to file a legal challenge against the Liberals’ invocation of the Act.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report. 

Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.