Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison questions invoking the Emergencies Act as the federal government grapples with vehicle blockades in the nation’s capital. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison questions invoking the Emergencies Act as the federal government grapples with vehicle blockades in the nation’s capital. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

MP Morrison questions invoking Emergencies Act in response to vehicle blockades

Kootenay-Columbia MP says police agencies have the tools to carry out enforcement of blockades

As the federal government invoked emergency measures earlier this week in response to vehicle blockades in downtown Ottawa, Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison said he wants to see a peaceful resolution to the situation.

However, he disagreed with the need to invoke emergency measures under the Emergencies Act, which was declared by federal officials on Monday, Feb. 14.

Morrison, a Conservative MP in Ottawa this week, maintained that protests against COVID-19 mandates in the nation’s capital continue to be peaceful, and noted that police already had the ability to enforce the law against illegal activity and blockades.

“If we have tools right now to deal with illegal protests, then let’s deal with it,” Morrison said. “I don’t know why the Prime Minister wanted to invoke the Emergencies Act, and really, to invoke that, there’s got to be some serious issues that they’re dealing with.”

READ: ‘Leave the area now,’ police warn downtown Ottawa demonstrators

During a press conference on Monday, Feb. 14, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau justified invoking the Emergency Act, noting that Ottawa residents have been enduring an “illegal obstruction of their neighbourhoods,” while also highlighting the economic damage being caused by border blockades.

“Right now, the situation requires additional tools not held by any other federal, provincial or territorial law,” said Trudeau. “Today, in these circumstances it is now clear that responsible leadership requires us to do this.

“These measures must be, and will be, compliant with our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Indeed, the Emergencies Act was created in the late 80s to flow from and uphold the Charter. We’ll always defend the rights of Canadians to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, but these blockades are illegal and if you’re still participating, the time to go home is now.”

Trudeau said invoking the act will not limit charter rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the right to protest.

Invoking the act also extends the scope of Canada’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing rules to cover crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe and GiveSendGo. Additional measures enable directing banks and financial services providers to cease providing service to accounts suspected of being used to fund illegal blockades.

Further, financial services providers will be able to immediately freeze or suspend an account of an individual or business affiliated with the blockades, according to a government news release.

A spreadsheet of donation data from the crowdfunding site GiveSendGo for the freedom convoy protests was leaked online Tuesday, showing thousands of entries for donations and associated personal information such as donation amounts, email addresses, IP addresses and payment method.

Based on a search of the V1C postal code that surrounds Cranbrook, there were 58 donors totalling $5,392.

Outside of the vehicles that have snarled traffic and pedestrian access in downtown Ottawa for the last two weeks, border crossings in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have also faced protests and blockades.

In Ontario, a six-day blockade of vehicles on Ambassador Bridge spanning the Detroit River and a key trading link between Canada and the United States, ended on Sunday, Feb. 13.

Additionally, the blockade on Pacific Highway border crossing west of White Rock ended Monday evening following multiple arrests and removal of vehicles.

In Alberta, a two-week standoff between police and protesters blockading the Coutts border crossing south of Lethbridge ended Tuesday evening, following the arrest of 11 people and a seizure of 13 long guns, ammunition and body armour on Feb. 14, according to an RCMP news release. An additional two individuals were also later taken into police custody.

Four individuals associated with the arrests were charged with conspiracy to commit murder, as well as other criminal offences, Alberta RCMP later reported.

READ: RCMP: 4 facing conspiracy to murder charges in wake of Alberta border blockade

Morrison attributed the arrests to a “criminal organization” that joined the Coutts protest after the initial blockade was set up.

In terms of standing against government pandemic mandates, Morrison reiterated that he supported peaceful protests that aren’t breaking the law.

“I do fully support peaceful protest, like the one we had in Cranbrook [on Jan. 29], where it was families and children and Canadian flags and people were just happy to be out and to be able to voice how they feel in ending these restrictions and mandates,” Morrison said.

This week, the federal government announced the easing of border restrictions that will be effective Feb. 28. Those eased restrictions include fully vaccinated travellers from any country entering Canada will be randomly selected for arrival testing. Travellers will also have the option of using a rapid-antigen test taken a day prior or a molecular test taken within 72 hours, and administered by a health professional in both cases, to satisfy testing requirements.

Unvaccinated travellers will continue to be required to test on arrival, Day 8 and quarantine for 14 days.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

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