Crackdown In Canada: Trudeau Invokes Emergency Powers Against Truckers; Protesters' Bank Accounts To Be Frozen

by Swarajya Staff - Feb 15, 2022 11:55 AM +05:30 IST
Crackdown In Canada: Trudeau Invokes Emergency Powers Against Truckers; Protesters' Bank Accounts To Be Frozen Justin Trudeau (Wikimedia Commons)
Snapshot
  • PM Trudeau said that while the military would not be deployed at the current stage, the authorities would have more powers to arrest the protesters.

Canadian Prime Minister (PM) Justin Trudeau invoked emergency powers to bring an end to trucker-led protests against COVID health rules, yesterday,. He announced the same at a press conference.

The rarely used act was invoked after the police arrested blockading persons holding a "cache of firearms" at a border crossing, reports NDTV. The federal police informed that they had arrested 11 protesters with rifles, handguns, body armour and ammunition at the border between Coutts, Alberta and Sweet Grass, Montana. This was just a day after another key US-Canada border crossing was cleared in Ontario.

The "Freedom Convoy" truckers are protesting against the vaccine mandate but also broadly against the government agenda. Their protests have reportedly triggered similar movements from France to New Zealand, with US truckers mulling similar rallies.

In Paris on the weekend, police fired tear gas and issued hundreds of fines in an effort to break up convoys coming from across France.

The Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria have also seen copycat movements, and Belgian authorities said Monday they had intercepted 30 vehicles as police scrambled to stop a convoy of trucks.

Meanwhile, hundreds of big rigs continue to block the streets of Ottawa, the capital city, as well as two border crossings with United States. This is the second time the emergency powers have been invoked during peacetime in the Canadian history.

The Act was previously used by Trudeau's father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, during the October Crisis of 1970.

The troops were sent to Quebec to restore order after a British trade attache and a Quebec minister, Pierre Laporte, were kidnapped by the separatists. Laporte was found strangled to death in the trunk of a car.

PM Trudeau said that while the military would not be deployed at the current stage, the authorities would have more powers to arrest the protesters; ban funding; and seize the trucks to clear the economically-costly blockades. He also vowed to freeze the protesters' bank accounts.

He accused the truckers of "illegal and dangerous activities" and said that he was invoking the act as a measure of "last resort". However, Trudeau faced flak from right-wing voices around the world. Social media users pointed out that he had in the past supported the protests in India against farm reform bills in blockading New Delhi, the capital city.

One such post read: "Blockade is undemocratic, dangerous and fascist in Canada but enriches democracy in India."

Former foreign secretary Kanwar Sibal noted: Sins coming home to roost. The stand Trudeau takes on Trucker rally at home is contrary to the Tractor rally in India. Calls it blocking economy and democracy. No dialogue with truckers. Police are arresting those supplying fuels to truckers. Usual hypocrisy, double standards by western "liberals".

Meanwhile, Ottawa residents are growing more frustrated as the protests have made them prisoners in their own homes. Most businesses downtown have reportedly closed down or have had almost no customers after officials warned residents to stay clear of the volatile protests.

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