Calling an act without meeting its high threshold of use undermines the rule of law and civil liberties, lawyers say.
A group of lawyers say that the use of emergency law by the federal government is not guaranteed, and failure to meet its strict standards before calling it undermines the rule of law and the freedom of citizens.
The motion was passed by the House of Commons on the night of February 21st. This bill must also be passed by the Senate. Currently under discussion. If the Senator does not approve it, the order will be immediately revoked.
and letter A group of 35 lawyers sent to parliamentarians and all senators on the morning of February 21 used an emergency law enacted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prior to voting at the House of Commons that night. I urged them to refuse.
“Members control parliament, not government,” the letter said.
“We exercise your authority, consider the issues we have identified, and consider the best ways to protect the rule of law and civil liberties as well as today, not through the lens of the faction. It is advisable to consider voting for a state of emergency, but more importantly for the future. “
Trudeau enacted an emergency law on February 14 in response to protests by truck drivers and their supporters over the obligations and restrictions of COVID-19 in Ottawa and throughout the country in the past few weeks.
The law, enacted in 1988, was used by Trudeau’s father and then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau during the October crisis when Quebec separatists kidnapped and killed Quebec’s Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1970. It has replaced the War Measures Act.
“I don’t think the current situation justifies an unprecedented call,” said lawyers in states such as Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia.
“The rule of law is a fundamental principle of our constitutional order and requires the government to be bound by law. It seems that the government has enacted a state of emergency that does not meet the strict standards that allow it. “The lawyer said.
“First, emergency law contains very strict standards that the federal government must meet in order to declare an emergency that is offensive to public order and morals.”
Situations that are offensive to public order and morals The law is defined as “an emergency that arises from a threat to Canada’s security and is so serious that it becomes a national emergency.”
reference Section 16 The law “threats Canada’s security”, its meaning is assigned by Section 2 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service ActLawyers have listed the main activities that make up a security threat.
“(T) Threats to Canada’s Security” includes activities such as espionage. Deceptive or threatening foreign-affected activities that undermine Canada’s interests. Terrorist activity; activities aimed at bringing about the destruction of the government or violent overthrow, “the letter said.
Lawyers argued that even assuming that one of the “threats” was met, it had not yet passed the high thresholds required by law to consider it a “national emergency.”
Act defines National emergency “(A) An urgent and serious situation of a temporary nature in proportion or nature that seriously endangers the life, health or safety of a Canadian and exceeds the state’s ability or authority to deal with it, or (b). It seriously threatens Canada’s ability to maintain sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, which cannot be effectively addressed under other Canadian laws. “
Lawyers said governments at all levels already had enough law to handle protests without invoking the law. Other groups have also pointed out.
“In fact, prior to the state of emergency, Ontario had already issued a state of emergency. The blockade of some infrastructure has already been cleared under existing legislation, including the enforcement of court injunctions. There are already various accusations available to law enforcement officers under federal, provincial, and municipal laws to address activities such as disruption of critical infrastructure and property damage, “said the lawyer. Insisted.
The letter also points out that the law presents a “significant and unprecedented challenge” to Canadian civil liberties, with the financial measures announced by Treasury Minister Chrystia Freeland on February 14. I gave it as an example.
Under the law, financial measures have been introduced to reduce funding for protests, including expanding money laundering prevention regulations to include crowdfunding platforms and digital currencies. Banks can also freeze the accounts of individuals and businesses involved in a protest without a court order.
At a virtual press conference on February 19, at least 76 bank accounts (equivalent to $ 3.2 million) were frozen in connection with the protests of Ottawa’s Minister of Public Security Marco Mendisinoside.
Lawyers have stated that if financial assets can be frozen “without judicial permission” and “without evidence of civil or criminal liability”, the measures are “significantly independent” to protect the financial well-being of Canadians. He emphasized that “protective measures” would be removed.
The letter also empowers law enforcement agencies to violate the Charter of Rights and Freedom, giving Canadians peaceful assembly, freedom of speech, and the right to due process before and under the law. Expressed concern about.
“These are subject to’reasonable restrictions’, but the discretion that law enforcement authorities may or may exercise to infringe these rights and freedoms, and justify the infringement of these rights. There is concern that the mere triggering of an emergency may be used to do so. Freedom, “said the letter.
“Also, future federal governments will take advantage of current emergencies to justify the peaceful political and ideological activities of Canadians, and emergency measures against those who may simply oppose the government of the day. I’m worried about that. “
Failure to comply with this law could result in a fine of up to $ 500 or up to $ 6 for a short-form prosecution, a fine of up to $ 5,000 for a prosecution, and up to five years in prison.
“Note that the Emergency Law provides for a compulsory public inquiry into its use. This hearing is solid, with representatives from all political parties, and independent independents, including lawyers. It is advisable to make sure that the participation of an expert is included, “the lawyer wrote.
On the night of February 21, a majority of House of Commons members voted in line with party policy, the Liberal Party and the NDP passed a motion to confirm the urgent declaration, and the Conservative Party and Bloc Québécois voted against it. rice field. ..
The motion was made with 185 members voting in favor and 151 members voting against.
The Senate must also vote for the government’s request to use measures under emergency law. If approved, the measure may be effective until mid-March. The government may extend the use of the law beyond that period as long as it maintains parliamentary approval.
Andrew Chen, Noé Charter, and Omid Ghoreishi contributed to this report.