Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has announced the government’s intention to appeal Tuesday’s Federal Court ruling that deemed the use of the Emergencies Act, used to disperse Freedom Convoy protestors, unconstitutional.
In a landmark ruling, the Federal Court found that the issuance of the Proclamation and associated Regulations and Order under the Emergencies Act was unreasonable and exceeded the act’s intended scope.
The court highlighted violations of Charter rights, specifically encroaching upon freedom of thought, opinion, and expression, along with an infringement on the right to security against unreasonable search or seizure.
When asked about the ruling on Tuesday, Freeland insisted that her government was correct in its use of emergency powers to quash protesters.
“So we are aware of the court decision. We have discussed it with the Prime Minister, with Cabinet colleagues, with senior federal government officials and experts. We respect very much Canada’s independent judiciary. However, we do not agree with this decision. And respectfully, we will be appealing it,” said Freeland.
“When we took that decision, the public safety of Canadians was under threat or national security, which includes our national economic security was under threat. It was a hard decision to take. We took it very seriously. After a lot of hard work, after a lot of careful deliberation. We were convinced at the time – I was convinced at the time – it was the right thing to do.”
The Canadian Constitution Foundation and other applicants initiated a judicial review application in 2022, expressing concerns about what they perceived as government overreach and civil liberties violations.
Canadian Constitution Foundation litigation director Christine Van Geyn has since asserted the organization’s commitment to fighting the federal government’s appeal.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre also addressed the ruling, accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of breaking “the highest law in the land” by resorting to emergency powers.
“He caused the crisis by dividing people. Then he violated Charter rights to illegally suppress citizens. As PM, I will unite our country for freedom,” posted Poilievre on X.
The Federal Court decision also touched upon special economic measures taken by the Trudeau government to freeze the bank accounts of Freedom Convoy organizers and protesters. Justice Richard Mosley rejected the government’s claim that freezing the accounts represented minimum impairment under the Economic Measures.
“I was convinced at the time, it was the right thing to do. It was the necessary thing to do. I remain and we remain convinced of that,” Freeland re-iterated when asked about the special economic measures.
Conservative MP Andrew Scheer also criticized the government’s handling of the protests, saying that the Prime Minister had no right to lecture others about Charter rights.
Conservative MP and democratic reform critic Michael Cooper referred to the use of the Emergencies Act as a “massive abuse of power” as evidenced by the Federal Court’s decision.