Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to invoke rarely used special measures allowing him to tackle protests that have shut some border crossings and paralysed downtown Ottawa, sources said yesterday.
In the Western Canadian province of Alberta yesterday, police broke up an armed group that was prepared to use violence to back a blockade at a border crossing with the United States, authorities said.
Trudeau plans to use the 1988 Emergencies Act, which allows the federal government to override the provinces and authorise special temporary measures to ensure security during national emergencies, the sources said.
The act has only been used once in peacetime — by Trudeau’s father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau — who invoked an earlier version of the act in 1970 after a small militant group of Quebec separatists kidnapped a British diplomat and then abducted a provincial cabinet minister who was killed in captivity.
The sources declined to be identified, given the sensitivity of the situation.
The “Freedom Convoy” protests, started by Canadian truckers opposing a Covid-19 vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, have turned into a rallying point for people opposing the policies of Trudeau’s government, covering everything from pandemic restrictions to a carbon tax. One of the sources, who could not speak on the record due to the sensitivity of the situation, said the aim of using the emergency powers was to provide federal police support to local and provincial forces, not to use the military.
Trudeau had already spoken to the provincial premiers about the plan, the source said.
(File photo) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.