Court Finds Trudeau Overreached by Using Emergency Law to End Blockade

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A Canadian court found that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s use of the country’s Emergencies Act to end a truck convoy protest that had paralyzed the capital, Ottawa, two years ago was an unjustified infringement of civil rights, including the protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and, in some instances, the freedom of expression as well.

The Federal Court of Canada decision also found that the freezing of bank accounts of people linked to the protest was similarly unjustified, but it dismissed arguments that the government had violated a variety of other rights, including those linked to peaceful assembly.

The decision, which will be appealed, was the first instance of a court delivering a rebuke to Mr. Trudeau over his handling of the protest, which began on Jan. 28, 2022, and continued for much of February, inspiring copycat protests in other provinces, including Alberta and British Columbia, as well as in France.

The protests in Ottawa, which were initially incited by a Covid vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers, rendered most of the city’s downtown streets impassable, clogging them with parked trucks. Six days after Mr. Trudeau’s government introduced the emergency powers, an enormous force of police officers from across the country finished clearing the streets. About 230 people were arrested during the protest.

In his decision, Judge Richard G. Mosley wrote that while the protests “reflected an unacceptable breakdown of public order,” the government did not meet various tests for using the emergency law, which expanded police powers to, among other things, compel tow truck drivers to help clear the streets.

Judge Mosley said that evidence from the two civil rights groups that brought the lawsuit against the government persuaded him that the “decision to issue the proclamation does not bear the hallmarks of reasonableness — justification, transparency and intelligibility — and was not justified in relation to the relevant factual and legal constraints.”

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Court Finds Trudeau Overreached by Using Emergency Law to End Blockade

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