By Andrew Chen February 19, 2022
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he will be filing a court challenge against the Liberal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act, saying it is unnecessary, disproportionate, and an intrusion into provincial jurisdiction.
In a video posted on Twitter, Kenney said the federal government’s decision to invoke the act, which gives authorities additional powers to oust protesters in Ottawa opposing COVID-19 mandates and restrictions, may violate civil liberties and sets a “dangerous precedent” for the future.
“The federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act is an unnecessary and disproportionate measure that can violate civil liberties, invades provincial jurisdiction, and creates a very dangerous precedent for the future,” he said.
“And now I can announce that Alberta will be filing a court challenge to the Government of Canada’s invocation of the emergency act.”
Announced on Feb. 14, the act gives authorities extra powers to deal with the protests, including the ability to compel towing companies to remove trucks encamped in Ottawa’s downtown core.
Several additional financial measures were added to reduce funding for the protests, including the broadening of anti-money laundering mechanisms to crowdfunding platforms and digital currencies. Financial institutions will be able to freeze accounts of individuals or corporations involved in the protests without the need of a court order.
On Feb. 19, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino confirmed that “at least 76” financial accounts have already been frozen, which represents $3.2 million, associated with the ongoing protest in Ottawa.
However, Kenney pointed to Alberta and Ottawa’s success in resolving the recent demonstrations blockading the Canada-U.S. border crossings without the need of the powers of the act.
The blockades were in solidarity with the protests in Ottawa, which initially began to oppose the federal government’s vaccine mandate requiring truck drivers crossing back into Canada from the United States to be fully vaccinated if they wish to avoid a 14-day quarantine upon re-entry. The protest soon evolved into a national movement as large convoys of trucks arrived in Ottawa to protest on Jan. 29, with many joining to oppose all COVID-19 mandates.
“Let’s be clear, the rule of law must be applied. Law and order must prevail, regardless of the cause that people stand for. Folks in this country have the right peacefully and lawfully to protest, and I encourage people who feel strongly about vaccine mandates, public health restrictions, to do just that legally and peacefully,” Kenney said.
“So the question then is why does the federal government using the power that is not necessary to seize bank accounts and assets, for example, from people—arbitrarily, extra-judicially, without court orders, based on their opinions or who they’ve donated to—powers really designed to interrupt things like terrorist financing? It doesn’t make sense.”
Alberta and several other provincial governments have spoken out against the invocation of the Emergencies Act, and Kenney said they will also consider applying as an intervener to support the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Constitution Foundation, which are also filing legal challenges against Ottawa’s emergency measure.
“We need to take action to defend, yes, the law and order, but also civil liberties and our Constitution and Canada. Alberta will be doing just that,” Kenney said.
On Feb. 18, Kenney wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in which he said invoking the act could do “irreparable harm” to Canadians and the country’s democracy.
Earlier this week, the premier co-signed a letter with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and 16 U.S. governors, requesting Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden to immediately reinstate previous vaccine and quarantine exemptions for cross-border truck drivers.