Emergencies Act invoked because all levels of government failed to act, Singh says

New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh responds to a question during a news conference, Dec. 7, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Federal New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh said the Emergencies Act was invoked because all levels of government did not take the so-called “Freedom Convoy” seriously.

In an interview on the Shaye Ganam show on Wednesday morning, Singh said the NDP voted to invoke the Emergencies Act because the protestors were a threat to Canada’s democracy and sovereignty.

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Singh also said the situation in Ottawa is evidence of a failure of all levels of government to respond to the threat, from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Ontario Premier Doug Ford to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

“This was not a protest. This was an occupation and a convoy bent on hurting working people, taking away people’s ability to work and harassing residents of a city that had to be shut down,” Singh said.

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The comment comes after 185 MPs voted in favour of the act on Monday night, while 151 voted against the measure.

The motion was put forward by the Liberal government, which outlined its decision to invoke the never-before-used emergency powers to end the weeks-long demonstrations by protestors.

The NDP sided with the Liberals in passing the motion, while the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois opposed it.

Under the terms outlined in the act, the government had to table that motion within seven days of invoking the law on Feb. 14. The vote to approve the measures will keep them in place until mid-March at the latest. The Senate must also vote on the motion at the government’s request.

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Singh said that the NDP signalled it would support the move only if the act didn’t overreach into civil rights but said that the act was necessary to resolve the protests in Ottawa.

“This is not a broad thing. It doesn’t have the ability to suspend the Charter like the War Measures Act did, so it’s very different,” he said.

When asked whether the motion was a confidence vote, Singh said the party knew the motion was a confidence vote from the start.

“Our decision was based on us strongly believing that this needed to be done to stop the serious crisis. The failure to acknowledge (the protest) was what brought us to this point.

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“This wasn’t something new to us. We knew that, and we made our decision based on that,” he said.

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