Published: 16th February 2022
What the FAQ: Why are truckers occupying cities all across Canada and why has Trudeau declared an Emergency?
Canada has been besieged by an anti-vaccination protest, calling itself the "Freedom Convoy". The country has now imposed an Emergency for the first time ever, and things seem to be getting serious
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau imposed a national emergency in the country on Tuesday, February 15. What caused this action, and what impact has it had so far? What's the world saying about the situation in Canada right now? We've got all the answers for you.
What is happening in Canada?
Canada's vaccination rules required trucks crossing the US-Canada border to have their truckers either fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or subjected to quarantine once they return. This did not sit well with the truckers who have been protesting for three weeks now. However, these protests have snowballed into demonstrations by anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, and those who oppose restrictions and lockdowns.
What did the protestors do?
For starters, the protestors led a blockade of the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, which is a 2.4 kilometre stretch of crucial trade passage between Canada and the US. The blockade began on the night of February 7, and the protestors halted the movement of goods between the two countries, ringing alarm bells in the trade sector. Similar protests spread across other parts of the border. The police took a week to disperse the crowd of protestors and managed to do so only after deploying heavily armed officers on the scene.
Why was the Emergency declared?
Protestors in trucks then began to occupy parts of the capital city Ontario, and the Prime Minister said these acts are a threat to national security and trade, adding that the protests were illegal and that it was "time to go home."
What was the protestors' response to the declaration of the Emergency?
As of today, that is Wednesday, February 16, the protestors in Ontario have said that they are not going anywhere, and will continue occupying public spaces in the city in order to get their message across.
What powers does the Emergency Act give the government?
Trudeau has invoked the Public Order Emergency scenario under the Emergencies Act, and that means the administration has the authority to prohibit gatherings of protesters, check assembly of people at public places, and impose fines and imprisonment sentences if any breach of national security is suspected. He also invoked the Personal Emergency provision of the Act, which means that the government can freeze the bank accounts of anyone it suspects of being involved with the protests. Additionally, the police can seize vehicles that are being used in these protests.
Has the Emergencies Act been declared in Canada before?
While this is the very first time Canada is invoking the Act during peacetime, an emergency has been declared thrice in Canada's history so far. Twice during the two World Wars respectively, and once incidentally by Prime Minister Trudeau's father, Late PM Pierre Trudeau, who invoked the War Measures Act in 1970.
What impact is the protest having?
The protest comes from a frustrated public, that doesn't believe in vaccination, and wants a return to the normal pre-COVID times. Almost 90% of Canada's adult population has been inoculated against the virus. They are citing the financial impact that the pandemic has had on the economy. The blockade of the Ambassador Bridge significantly impacted trade in industries, especially the automobile industry in both the US and Canada. The US officials have urged the government of Canada to employ all tools at its disposal to end the protest.