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(LifeSiteNews) – Sources have informed national media outlets about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s intent to invoke the Emergencies Act (EA) to deal with Freedom Convoy protesters. This has left some scratching their heads about what that actually is, and what powers he could have if the measure was approved.

Some have suggested that Canada is about to descend into martial law, or some sort of Soviet police state. The reality is much more complicated than that.

What is it? 

The EA replaced the older War Measures Act in 1988, and it is more limited in scope. Under the War Measures Act, as you can imagine, war-time activity was permitted. However, because the EA is broader in its scope – applying to “national threats” outside of war and violent conflict – it is also more specific and limited in what powers the government can use.

In addition, the EA requires parliamentary oversight, and all measures must be in compliance with the rights of Canadians laid out in the Charter.

Not like his father

Comparisons of Trudeau’s intent to apply the federal power with the action of his father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who used the older War Measures Act in 1970. However, the comparison is lacking because Pierre Trudeau was responding to a domestic militaristic threat posed by a Quebecois nationalist group that was kidnapping and killing politicians.

In this case, Justin Trudeau is not invoking war powers, but rather seeking to justify using federal powers to squash a freedom movement that is engaging in civil disobedience peacefully.

Thus, in this situation he cannot appeal to war-time justifications that are not found in the EA as it stands.

If we were to speculate, it is likely that Trudeau will appeal to the section of the EA that deals with a Declaration of Public Order Emergency.

Section 17 says, “When the Governor in Council believes, on reasonable grounds, that a public order emergency exists and necessitates the taking of special temporary measures for dealing with the emergency, the Governor in Council, after such consultation as is required by section 25, may, by proclamation, so declare.”

He can’t act alone

The Prime Minister does not have to consult the premiers of the provinces for permission to use the EA, but it does have to go through a parliamentary process at the federal level.

Currently, multiple provinces do not support Trudeau in his quest to commandeer the nation.

However, the failed conservative premier of Ontario seems to be pretty keen on have the federal government turn on freedom loving Canadians.

If a cabinet declares an emergency, approval is required from parliament within seven days, and both the House of Commons and the Senate are required to approve the motion.

As of yet, it is not clear what will happen in the House or the Senate if it comes to that.

Opposition is growing against Trudeau in his own party, which means it is not certain that he can rely on his own people, let alone opposition, to support him.

What can he do? 

In the EA, there are stipulations that clarify the types of things a government could do under the circumstance, but they are general and not specific. For example, section 19 says that public assembly could be restricted, travel rights could be restricted, and even the use of certain property could be restricted.

How the government could use the EA to stop a peaceful protest – which is a Charter right – is not clear.

What is clear is that he has to prove that the Freedom Convoy constitutes a national emergency that requires national effort. Even if an emergency situation is declared, the response has to be commensurate to the activity.

For example, if we were dealing with an armed insurrection, then an armed response would be warranted. However, we are dealing with a peaceful protest, therefore only non-aggressive measures are permitted.

What exactly those could be, no one knows.

Don’t jump the gun about the military

Some are saying that Trudeau is about to bring in the military. Even if he wanted to, it is not that simple.

The military has a chain of command and operating procedures. Their resources are stretched thin as it is. Launching some indiscriminate military action against families and children who are having what looks like a large social event in front of the parliament is not something the Canadian military will sign off on.

It could be that the military might come in with certain machines or resources to take away trucks, or just to have a show of force to squeeze people gradually out of the protest zone. But again, this is all speculation.

To conclude, we do not know what Trudeau will do, and we do not know who will support him and to what extent.

This might simply be a political move – of course it is political, but you know what I mean – as a vote is set to take place in parliament to end all federal mandates and restrictions.

We could be seeing the last flash in the pan of Trudeau’s fetish for dictatorial power, or we could be in for a complicated and messy legal battle over the coming weeks. Only time will tell.

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Kennedy Hall is an Ontario based journalist for LifeSiteNews. He is married with children and has a deep love for literature and political philosophy. He is the author of Terror of Demons: Reclaiming Traditional Catholic Masculinity, a non-fiction released by TAN books, and Lockdown with the Devil, a fiction released by Our Lady of Victory Press. He writes frequently for Crisis Magazine, Catholic Family News, and is on the editorial board at OnePeterFive.