Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is revoking the Emergencies Act after 10 days that have seen police crack down to clear out hundreds of demonstrators with the so-called “Freedom Convoy” who had encamped in the nation’s capital for three weeks.
Trudeau made the announcement to end the use of the emergency powers at a press conference on Wednesday.
Trudeau said the government was confident that the existing laws and bylaws were now sufficient to keep Canadians safe.
The legislation, which replaced the contentious War Measures Act in 1988, allowed Trudeau’s government to declare the areas around Parliament Hill a place of prohibited assembly and granted RCMP the ability to share information about supporters of the convoy with financial institutions in order to freeze accounts.
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Police from multiple jurisdictions in Ottawa used a gradually increasing level of force against demonstrators following dozens of warnings for them to leave the area in a push that began on Thursday evening and lasted through Sunday.
Nearly 200 people have been arrested and are facing nearly 400 charges. Several of the leading organizers and figures in the convoy are now behind bars; one of them, Tamara Lich, was denied bail on Tuesday while Pat King is awaiting a continuation of his bail hearing set to take place on Friday.
Chris Barber is the only one of the leaders so far to have been granted bail.
Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canadian history on Feb. 14 as a response to the blockades.
The move came after the convoy had been encamped on the streets of downtown Ottawa for three weeks, with multiple other blockades attempting to shut down border crossings in Windsor, Ont., Emerson, Man., and Coutts, Alta.
Municipal and provincial authorities had taken little concrete action to move or bar additions to the encampments over the three weeks since the convoy had set up despite the urgings of residents to do so.
Trudeau billed the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act as one that should never be a first resort, and had earlier in the week cited the “pre-positioning” of convoy associates since the clearing-out as a factor in why the federal state of emergency had not yet been revoked.
A joint committee of parliamentarians will review the declaration of the act and within 60 days, an inquiry will look into the circumstances that led to the invocation of the act, Trudeau said.
The inquiry will also examine “the funding, influence and disinformation that supported the illegal blockades and occupations — both foreign and domestic,” he said.
“Going forward it’ll be important that we gain a fuller understanding of what gave rise to this kind of disregard for laws and threat to our democracy,” Trudeau told reporters.
“While the immediate emergency situation is over, this issue won’t just go away,” he said, adding that the threat still remains.
Meanwhile, the Ontario government also announced Wednesday that it was lifting the state of emergency that was declared amid the convoy protests.
If the act had not been revoked, the state of emergency was set to remain in effect for 30 days from Feb. 14.