Canadian President Trudeau calls for emergency powers in bid to end protests

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday he would activate rarely used emergency powers to try to end protests that have closed some border crossings and paralyzed parts of the capital.

“The blockade is hurting our economy and putting public safety at risk,” Trudeau told a news conference. We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue.”

Frustration has grown with what critics see as a permissive approach by police to demonstrations in the border city of Windsor, Ontario, and in Ottawa, the country’s capital, as the protests entered a third week.

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“Despite their best efforts, it is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement’s ability to effectively enforce the law,” Trudeau said.

Protesters closed the Ambassador Bridge, a vital commercial route to Detroit, for six days before police ended the protest on Sunday.

The “Freedom Caravan” protests, started by Canadian truck drivers who oppose mandating a vaccination or quarantine for drivers across the border, have drawn people against Trudeau’s policies on everything from pandemic restrictions to a carbon tax.

The Emergency Act 1988 allows the federal government to bypass provinces and authorize special temporary measures to ensure security during national emergencies. The law was used only once in peacetime, in 1970, by Trudeau’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Read more

Earlier on Monday, four provincial premiers – in Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan – said they opposed plans to enforce the law, saying it was unnecessary. L4N2UP3SP

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Canada’s parliament will have to approve the use of emergency measures within seven days, and it also has the power to rescind them.

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Additional reporting by Ismail Shakeel in Bengaluru, Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Nia Williams in Calgary and Lars Hagberg in Ottawa; Written by Imran Abukar. Editing by Lisa Schumaker, Paul Simao and Cynthia Osterman

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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