Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Monday afternoon amid ongoing protests in the country led by truckers opposed to a vaccine mandate.
The anti-vax demonstrators have shut down some major border crossings nationwide in recent days.
According to the CBC, Trudeau informed the premieres of his decision on Monday morning.
“This is not a peaceful protest,” Trudeau said during a press conference Monday afternoon.
“This is about keeping Canadians safe, protecting people’s jobs and restoring confidence in our institutions,” Trudeau continued.
The Emergencies Act defines a national emergency as a temporary “urgent and critical situation” that “seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it.”
The act gives the prime minister special powers to authorize temporary measures to ensure security during national emergencies. It allows the government to send in the military, but Trudeau reportedly told his Liberal caucus on Monday morning that there were no plans to deploy the military.
It also grants the Cabinet the ability to “take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times” to deal with an “urgent and critical situation” and its consequences.
Although an emergency order from the prime minister takes effect immediately in Canada once the Cabinet declares an emergency, the government would still be required to go to Parliament within seven days to get approval. If either the Commons or the Senate opposes the motion, the emergency declaration is revoked.
The rarely-used act has only been invoked once in peacetime. Trudeau’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, invoked an earlier version of it in 1970 after Quebec separatists kidnapped a provincial Cabinet minister and a British diplomat.
Trudeau’s reported decision comes after Canadian police opened up the Ambassador Bridge, a major border crossing that connects Windsor, Ontario to Detroit, Michigan, on Sunday night after a six-day logjam on the major throughway was created by hundreds of truckers protesting a new government vaccine restriction. The blockade of truckers is ongoing in other areas of the Canadian capital of Ottawa more than two weeks after it began.
On Friday, Ontario premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency over the protesters’ “illegal occupation ” of Ottawa. The move followed the three border closures of key routes between the U.S. and Canada by truckers. The closures forced major auto companies to scale back or halt operations as supply chains were disrupted.
The so-called “Freedom Convoy of 2022″ protests began three weeks ago in Ottawa by truckers who oppose a new COVID-19 requirement that mandates drivers present proof of full vaccination upon reentry to Canada or face a two-week quarantine. Though the majority of Canadian truckers were already vaccinated, they were previously exempt from entry requirements.
The movement has attracted the attention of America’s far-right, with efforts to ignite a similar series of anti-vax protests in the U.S.