3 Maritime Premiers Say Emergencies Act Unnecessary, Joining Prairies and Quebec in Opposition to Measure

3 Maritime Premiers Say Emergencies Act Unnecessary, Joining Prairies and Quebec in Opposition to Measure
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston fields a question at a COVID-19 briefing in Halifax on Sept. 29, 2021. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)
Andrew Chen

The premier of Nova Scotia has joined the leaders of two other maritime provinces, along with those of Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Quebec to oppose the Emergencies Act invoked by the federal government. 

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston banned blockades of provincial highways and roads on Jan. 28 and says the province doesn’t need the additional powers of the Emergencies Act. Nova Scotia also increased fines for blockades on Feb. 4 to between $3,000 to $10,000 for individuals and between $20,000 to $100,000 for corporations. 

“Given the nature of the protests to date in Nova Scotia—which have generally been peaceful and within the law, along with our two provincial government directives—which established significant fines to reinforce the message that Nova Scotia will not tolerate blockades, we did not need the federal government to enact the Emergencies Act in Nova Scotia at this time,” the premier told CBC News in a statement. 

On Feb. 14, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act to address the ongoing protests against COVID-19 mandates and restrictions in Ottawa and other regions of the country.

Prior to Trudeau’s announcement, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters that the Prime Minister had discussed the move with the premiers and sought their counsel on what additional measures are needed. 

“I don’t think it’s necessary for New Brunswick,” Higgs said on Feb. 14.
“We have put in the measures that allowed the police to do what they needed to do for the demonstrations that we’ve had here. And I think it worked very effectively.”

Higgs’s comment is echoed by P.E.I. Premier Dennis King, who said the province doesn’t need the powers of the Emergencies Act although he respects the federal government’s decision. 

“I expressed to the Prime Minister and my colleagues that while the Emergencies Act wasn’t required at this time for Prince Edward Island, I respect the decision to provide further assistance to those provinces requiring it,” King said in a statement issued on Feb. 14.
The premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec have also stated that they don’t support the prime minister’s use of the act. 

Newfoundland and Labrador is the only jurisdiction in Atlantic Canada that voiced support for Ottawa’s decision to invoke the act.

“As I said to PM Justin Trudeau today, I support our federal government in invoking the Emergencies Act as laid out—with a time limit and to bolster response—to deal with unacceptable behaviour within blockades in our country, infringing on the rights of law-abiding Canadians,” N.L. Premier Andrew Furey said in a Twitter post on Feb. 14. 

British Columbia’s premier, John Horgan has also voiced support for the federal Emergencies Act declaration. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford initially approved the federal decision to invoke the Act, but on Feb. 15 he called on the federal government to make “targeted” use of the special powers it allowed for. 

“I made it clear to the Prime Minister that any special powers need to be extremely targeted, only used for as long as necessary to resolve the situation and not one minute longer,” Ford said during a press conference in Hamilton. 

The protests in Ottawa and across Canada started with truck drivers opposed to the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements imposed on drivers crossing the Canada-U.S. border. Starting on Jan. 29, large convoys of trucks drove to the capital to protest the measure, while supporters opposing pandemic-related mandates and restrictions joined in. 

Many protesters say they will remain in the nation’s capital until the mandates are lifted.
In recent weeks, several provinces have announced plans to lift their vaccine passport mandates and other measures.
Alberta ended its vaccine mandate at midnight on Feb. 8, while most other health restrictions in the province, including masking, will be lifted on March 1.
Saskatchewan’s government said last week it is lifting its mandatory vaccination program on Feb. 14, and will end its requirement for masks in indoor settings by March 1.

Manitoba plans to end all its COVID-19 orders, including proof of vaccination requirements and mask mandate, by March 15.

Ontario will be lifting all capacity limits and proof of COVID-19 vaccination requirements on March 1.

Quebec will phase out its vaccine passport system by March 14.