| 18 April 2024, Thursday |

Canada emergency powers still needed, PM says, citing signs of new blockade

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government still required temporary emergency powers in the aftermath of a truckers’ blockade, citing “serious worries” about threats in the coming days.

Trudeau said at a televised news conference that there were signals that some truckers were regrouping outside the capital, Ottawa, and that they would return to try to renew a three-week occupation that had brought downtown Ottawa to a stop.

The demonstrators’ main goal was to stop cross-border COVID-19 vaccination mandates for truck drivers, but the occupation quickly transformed into a protest against Trudeau and the minority Liberal administration.

“This state of emergency will not be lifted. There are still legitimate concerns about the next days “Trudeau stated to reporters.

Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act last Monday granting authorities broader powers to stop the demonstrations in Ottawa and blockades of several Canada-U.S. border crossings.

Police spent two days clearing protesters from the downtown core, making 191 arrests and towing 79 vehicles by the time the operation ended on Sunday. Downtown Ottawa was deserted on Monday but Trudeau said dangers remained.

“Right now … people (are) out there indicating that they are ready to blockade, to continue their illegal occupations to disrupt Canadians’ lives. We feel that this measure needs to remain in place,” he said.

Trudeau also called for people to work together, saying “we don’t know when this pandemic is going to end, but that doesn’t mean we cannot start healing as a nation”.

Some members of the official opposition Conservative Party accuse Trudeau of abusing his powers. Legislator Dean Allison decried what he called “authoritarian military style measures” against the protesters.

Legislators in the House of Commons are due to vote at about 8 p.m. Eastern Time (0100 GMT Tuesday) on whether to back Trudeau’s move. The left-leaning New Democrats say they will back the Liberals, ensuring that the measure will be approved.

  • Reuters