Trudeau Revokes Emergencies Act, Says Current Laws Will 'Keep People Safe'

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dropped emergency powers, saying they're no longer needed to quell trucker protests that occupied the country's capital and clogged trade routes.

Trudeau said Wednesday he has revoked the Emergencies Act a week after assuming its sweeping powers to address the so-called Freedom Convoy, a protest started by truckers last month in response to new COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

"The situation is no longer an emergency; therefore, the federal government will be ending the use of the Emergencies Act," Trudeau said at a press conference. "We are confident that existing laws and bylaws are sufficient to keep people safe."

Trudeau became the first prime minister to invoke that Emergencies Act. The invocation gave his government authority to target the finances of protesting truckers, declare no-go zones and require towing companies to haul away vehicles, in addition to giving police more resources.

Prime Minister Trudeau Speaks
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was revoking emergency powers due to the Freedom Convoy trucker protests being quelled. Above, Trudeau speaks at a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on February 21, 2022. Dave Chan/Getty Images

The blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, a critical entry point to the U.S., and other major infrastructures have been cleared of protesters. Authorities have also arrested protest organizers in Ottawa and elsewhere. Trudeau said that with Ottawa clear of the occupation and border crossings open, police could handle any further challenges with "sufficient tools in regular times."

When asked about encampments of holdout protesters outside of Ottawa, Trudeau said that the "threat continues" but the circumstances that precipitated the emergency declaration are "now over."

Trudeau again defended invoking the Emergencies Act, calling the response proportional to a protest that he said threatened the economy and Canadian democracy.

"People were being harassed. Small businesses were closing. Factories were shutting down, and trade was halted at our borders," said Trudeau. "Here in Ottawa and in other places in the country. There was evidence of individuals wanting to undermine and even harm Canada's democracy."

However, Trudeau still drew criticism for invoking the act.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said on Twitter Wednesday that it welcomed Trudeau's decision to revoke the emergency declaration, calling it "overdue."

"From the outset, however, we have stated that the government did not meet the legal thresholds set out in the Emergencies Act," the association said. "We also continue to believe that it's important for the courts to comment on the legal threshold and constitutional issues so as to guide the actions of future governments."

The association said it will be consulting with legal counsel to determine its next steps.

Candice Bergen, leader of the opposition Conservative Party of Canada, said in a statement that Trudeau was wrong to invoke the act in the first place.

"Trudeau introduced it in the first place for his personal political gain," she said in a statement. "He revoked it now for the very same reason."

Although Trudeau has revoked the emergency powers, it won't be the end of the discussion for Canadian policymakers. He said a parliamentary committee will review the emergency declaration, as required by law, and there will be an inquiry into the circumstances that led up to it.

"It will look at how we got there, and why it was required," said Trudeau. It could look at police. The inquiry could also examine the funding, influence and misinformation that supported the illegal blockades and occupations, both foreign and domestic."