HomeWorld NewsCanada's Trudeau Defends Using Emergency Powers to Shut Down Freedom Convoy Protests

Canada’s Trudeau Defends Using Emergency Powers to Shut Down Freedom Convoy Protests

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday he is convinced he “made the right decision” in invoking historic emergency powers earlier this year to shut down the Freedom Convoy protests against Canada’s COVID-19 mandates.

Trudeau defended his actions in testimony before a commission charged with investigating his use of the Emergencies Act to end the truckers’ protest that paralyzed Canada’s capital, Ottawa, for weeks in January and February. The prime minister said he was left with no choice but to ask for emergency powers on February 14 after he deemed a plan put forward by police insufficient to end the week-long demonstration.

“It wasn’t that they just wanted to be heard. They wanted to be obeyed,” Trudeau said of the protesters, according to Reuters. “I am absolutely, absolutely serene and confident that I made the right decision in accepting the summoning.”

Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canadian history during the February Freedom Convoy protest in the capital city of Ottawa. In doing so, he gave the federal government temporary powers to crack down on truckers and others protesting COVID-19 vaccination mandates and other pandemic-related restrictions and freeze the bank accounts of those suspected of supporting the convoy.

The emergency powers were lifted on February 23.

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A Freedom Convoy protester holds a “Hold The Line” sign while dancing in Ottawa, Canada.
(Fox News Digital/Lisa Bennatan)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau testifies before the Emergency Public Order Commission public inquiry on November 25, 2022 in Ottawa.  The Commission heard Trudeau speak in defense of little-used wartime measures invoked to evict trucker-led protests in February 2022 after weeks of paralyzing Ottawa and disrupting commerce.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau testifies before the Emergency Public Order Commission public inquiry on November 25, 2022 in Ottawa. The Commission heard Trudeau speak in defense of little-used wartime measures invoked to evict trucker-led protests in February 2022 after weeks of paralyzing Ottawa and disrupting commerce.
(DAVE CHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Trudeau’s actions were highly controversial, and civil liberties advocates questioned whether the circumstances of the protest necessitated his extreme response. Lawyers for the convoy and others said Trudeau had ignored a plan prepared by Ottawa police and argued that emergency powers were unnecessary to end the protest, according to Reuters.

As required by law, an independent inquiry has been formed to investigate the prime minister’s actions and submit a report to the Canadian government detailing its findings. The report must be submitted by February 20, 2023. Trudeau was the last witness called to testify.

During his testimony, the prime minister said the protests presented a serious threat of violence, and accused local police of coming up with a plan that was “not even in the most generous of characterizations a plan” to deal with blocked streets, reported Reuters. .

Testimony and additional documents obtained by the investigation revealed that US officials had pressured the Canadian government to shut down the protests and remove blockades at the US-Canada border crossings.

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White House economic adviser Brian Deese.

White House economic adviser Brian Deese.
(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

“They are very, very, very concerned,” Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote in an email to her staff after a February 10 phone call with White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese, Politico reported.

“If this is not fixed within the next 12 hours, all of their northeast auto plants will close,” Freeland added in his email.

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Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg contacted Canada’s Transport Minister Omar Alghabra the same day Deese spoke to Freeland, according to the report, and Buttigieg pushed for “a plan to resolve” the border blockades.

Alghabra told the commission that Buttigieg had initiated the “unusual” call.

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White House aides had also reportedly contacted Trudeau’s staff ahead of a February 11 phone call that took place between the prime minister and President Biden.

On that call, Trudeau reportedly informed the president that his government had a plan to end the protests and lockdowns.

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.

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