Senators Grill Trudeau's Gov't on Emergencies Act

Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP

We’ve been bringing you the fight of the Freedom Convoy against COVID restrictions in Canada. It was a dark day on Monday: Instead of having the government talk to its citizens, you had the House of Commons approve the Emergencies Act, which puts inordinate powers in the hands of the government and oppresses civil liberties.

As we noted, the Senate could stop it. It hasn’t passed fully yet — Trudeau needs Senate approval.

The Senate started consideration of it on Tuesday.

Now, I’m not holding out a lot of hope for them to block it, but the grilling that the government’s representative, Marc Gold. got over it in the Senate was encouraging. The senators got down to the basic question of why do you need it if the protesters are no longer camped outside of Parliament and there are no longer any blockades? What’s the point besides a huge power grab by Justin Trudeau?

They also wanted to know what intelligence or data they were basing their request for the Act on, to begin with. The government never provided that information to the Parliament. The government representative said they made the decision based on intelligence they “couldn’t share.”

“What is equally clear, as we all know, and as I stated in response to an earlier question, that I cannot share, and the government cannot share and should not share the intelligence that it may have received that helped inform their decision,” he continued.

How do you call yourself a free society when you say even to your Senate “Hey, just go along with us suppressing liberties, but we can’t even tell you why — it’s secret”? Come on, guys.

Some senators found this troubling. As well they should.

Senator Dennis Glen Patterson, who left the Conservative Senators Group in protest over some members’ support of the so-called Freedom Convoy, said: “there is a certain amount of ‘trust us’ in the government’s justification of these extreme measures.”

Senator Patterson, who has since joined the Canadian Senators Group, worried that the joint parliamentary review committee would not have access to the unredacted security information to determine if the enactment of the Act was absolutely necessary.

“This is a serious step that we’re contemplating here today,” said Conservative Senator Elizabeth Marshall. “What exactly happened that the government decided to invoke the act?… Because it seemed like for three or four weeks, there was nothing, they were just tolerating it.”

She continued to ask why the government appeared “to be so late in assessing this monumental threat that they’re talking about.” [….]

Julie Miville-Dechêne, from the Independent Senators Group, worried about the precedent this situation could create given that MPs and Senators are asked to make decisions on the basis of “secret information” for a crisis “that is not visible.”

“Could this exceptional law be invoked again solely on the basis of secret information, which would of course be difficult to accept in a democracy?” she asked.

One of the best takes on the situation was from Conservative Senator Leo Housakos. He chastised Trudeau for stoking the “flames of division” such as by trying to smear the protesters as “Nazis” who carried “swastikas.” He said he had spoken to the protesters (unlike Trudeau) and found them very measured people. He also blasted Trudeau for attacking a Conservative House member “child of Holocaust survivors” a “defender of the swastika.” “Can we cut this nonsense about what we do is more partisan and somehow what you do is God’s work?”

Housakos called out military-style checkpoints, pointing out how the measures were excluding people from being able to move freely in Ottawa. He said this was shutting down Parliament Hill to its citizens which had never been done before in history, violating a fundamental right, a right of all citizens. In response, the government’s representative lied and said the residents weren’t able to leave their homes without being harassed by protesters.

Housakos also pointed out how the Emergencies Act allows freezing protesters’ accounts when you even need a court order to freeze the bank account of a member of the Mafia.

There were a lot of questions grilling the government, so that’s encouraging. Some of the senators were not buying what Trudeau was selling. It’s not clear when they will take a vote but if they don’t approve it, it would be revoked.