Federal Court ruling on trucker protest troubling for government says MP

Trucker protest ruling

On Family Day, Feb. 21, 2022, a historic vote took place in the House of Commons.

The vote was to invoke the Emergencies Act. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau designated the vote a "confidence” vote. If it had not passed, the prime minister could potentially have called for another election.

As usual with this prime minister, he knew polling numbers indicated a majority of Canadians supported using the Emergencies Act to end the “freedom” convoy protests in downtown Ottawa.

However, a problem emerged. The legal standard to invoke the Emergencies Act didn't include polling numbers, so its potential political popularity for Trudeau at that time didn't meet the legal threshold stated in the Act.

That was a point asserted by me, other members of the Conservative Opposition, numerous legal scholars, and groups like the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. This is why the entire Conservative caucus voted against invoking the Emergencies Act.

The federal NDP pledged support for invoking the Act before Trudeau even tabled the details of the proposal in the House of Commons. At the time, some Liberal and NDP MPs claimed an act of attempted arson occurred by the protestors, and guns were found in Ottawa during the protest. Those claims were based on false and inaccurate media reports.

As the Canadian Civil Liberties Association describes it: "The Emergencies Act can only be invoked when a situation 'seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada' and when the situation 'cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.'"

The last part is critical: "when the situation cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada."

As many of us pointed out at the time, other existing laws were successfully used to deal with protests in other parts of Canada, including during the “freedom convoy" protests.

Ultimately, this issue ended up in the Federal Court thanks to the determined efforts of a number of individuals and groups, particularly the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Constitution Foundation. This week, Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley ruled (the government’s) use of the Emergencies Act against convoy protests was “unreasonable and violated Charter" (as reported by CBC). The judge stated that there "was no national emergency justifying the invocation of the Emergencies Act."

This is a significant legal defeat for the Trudeau Liberal government, which immediately announced its intention to appeal the Federal Court ruling.

Usually, a government will want to review a court ruling for some time before appealing. The sudden response to appeal by the government indicates to me it either anticipated a negative ruling and made its calculation to appeal or responded reflexively.

In either case, the response raises an interesting pattern I see in my interactions with constituents. As the Member of Parliament for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, many constituents have expressed their disapproval of the increasing trend of provincial governments and the federal government to deploy their vast legal resources to appeal what they perceive as flawed legislation or decisions.

These are seen as politically driven rather than based on legal principles, especially when a court finds a government's arguments lacking.

In a time when Canadians are struggling to pay their bills, it seems to them senior levels of government prefer to spend scarce taxpayer dollars on lawyers for what they consider to be lost causes. These funds could otherwise support our health care system, bolster police enforcement, rebuild our military or let Canadians keep more of their own money.

Many constituents would prefer some humility from the government and move on instead of doubling down on flawed decisions.

My question this week:

Do you agree with Prime Minister Trudeau's decision to appeal this ruling? Why or why not?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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