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UPDATED: Trudeau says Emergencies Act can now be revoked as crisis calms down

PM says order has been restored, police and legislation will now suffice

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government can revoke the Emergencies Act now that the crisis in Ottawa and at Canada’s border crossings has calmed down.

“We are confident that existing laws and bylaws are now sufficient to keep people safe,” Trudeau told a news conference Wednesday in Ottawa.

“I want to reassure Canadians: law enforcement agencies are prepared to deal with anyone engaging in unlawful or dangerous activities.”

Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act, which replaced the War Measures Act in 1988, for the first time last week, saying police needed extra help to end protests against COVID-19 restrictions that had occupied downtown Ottawa for weeks and spread to key Canada-U.S. border crossings.

On Monday, Trudeau said the time-limited, extraordinary powers granted by the Emergencies Act were still needed because his government was worried about blockades returning.

Trudeau said Wednesday the threat remains, but order has been restored.

The House of Commons passed a motion to approve the measures under the act Monday evening, with the NDP voting in favour alongside the minority Liberal government.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh had warned that his party would pull its support for the Emergencies Act as soon as it decided the measures are no longer necessary.

The Senate began debating a motion on the act Tuesday, but adjourned the discussion Wednesday after the prime minister’s announcement.

Justice Minister David Lametti said the emergency powers, which were set to expire mid-March at the latest, will officially end when the Governor General signs a proclamation to revoke the act.

Regulations under the Emergencies Act granted powers to make tow trucks into essential services, require banks to freeze accounts of people participating directly or indirectly in the protest, and designate no-go zones for public gatherings, including Parliament Hill, border crossings and other areas deemed to be critical infrastructure.

Police in Ottawa used those powers over the weekend to push demonstrators out of the core in a massive, multi-day operation.

Downtown Ottawa remains under heavy police supervision. Checkpoints throughout the core, where the parliamentary precinct and surround streets are fenced off, are expected to remain throughout the weekend.

The integrated command centre, including Ottawa police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP, will continue to operate for an indeterminate amount of time, the RCMP said in a statement Wednesday.

The RCMP gave a list of influencers in the protest, as well as people who refused to move their vehicles from Ottawa’s court, to financial institutions.

On Tuesday, Isabelle Jacques, the assistant deputy minister of finance, told a House of Commons committee that a total of 206 accounts involving $7.8 million were affected.

She also said the RCMP sent information to banks Monday about people whose accounts should no longer be affected.

The power to freeze accounts will end once the act is officially revoked. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland warned some accounts will remain frozen under the regular authority of the courts, law enforcement and financial institutions.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s office said Wednesday the provincial state of emergency to deal with anti-vaccine mandate blockades would be revoked to align with the federal government. The premier’s office said “emergency tools” provided to law enforcement will stay in place for now to address ongoing activities.

Trudeau said that an inquiry into the circumstances that led up to the use of the emergency legislation, which is a requirement under the act, will take place within 60 days.

“It could look at policing,” he said.

“The inquiry could also examine the funding influence and disinformation that supported the illegal blockades and occupations, both foreign and domestic.”

—Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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