Raising my voice against the government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act
On Saturday, February 19 during an historic debate, Greg delivered remarks in the House of Commons chamber as part of the debate on the Emergencies Act Motion for confirmation of emergency.
Mr. Greg McLean (Calgary Centre, CPC):
Madam Speaker, I rise today sombrely in the House of Commons to raise my voice against the government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act. The first issue to address is the rule of law that we live under in this democracy. Outside, police are corralling the remainder of the protesters who have set up a blockade on Ottawa’s streets.
Last week, blockades at Canada’s borders were disassembled by police forces in five provinces. These all have serious implications for Canada regarding our economy and the jobs upon which Canadians depend; our dependability as a trading partner; our supply chain, and we have heard much about how that supply chain has been strained; our grocery shelves, as over 70% of the produce Canadians consume during the winter arrives from southern supply; and, of course, inflation, as shipments have been delayed, rerouted or cancelled.
In so many ways, Canadians will be paying the price for these illegal blockades. These short-term interruptions have long-term consequences. I need to illustrate clearly that every blockade at our international borders was addressed within Canada’s existing laws. No extraordinary powers were required. Our police, in each province, rose to the challenge and dealt with the illegal blockades.
The notion that extraordinary powers were required to deal with the situation is a ruse, and the Attorney General of Canada‘s justification that these powers were required to compel tow truck drivers to assist them has been clearly debunked by references to Canada’s Criminal Code, where those powers already reside.
There is no doubt that we are living in extraordinary times and this is testing all our democratic institutions. Canada is quickly becoming viewed in the eyes of the world as no longer a nation of laws. We rank much worse on Transparency International’s corruption index. We have moved from the seventh most important economy in the world to the 10th. Our international security partners are largely ignoring us and making decisions without our input. We are on the wrong path.
How did we get here? Our Prime Minister invoked the Emergencies Act, for the fourth time in our nation’s history. Two world wars and the FLQ crisis are the only other instances. Close examination shows that this invocation is a gross overreach and is unnecessary.
I have spoken of the blockades. Individuals will face charges for actions that occurred during these illegal blockades. The beginning of the convoy formed to bring a message of hope to Canadians and gained so much support as those trucks crossed our country to arrive in Ottawa to protest against the government’s sudden vaccine mandate imposed on transborder truckers. This was unnecessary and unwarranted, and has no scientific basis: a gross overstep against a group of hard-working Canadians who had kept this country supplied for two years of a pandemic. How the Prime Minister relegated these Canadian heroes to zeros overnight is a turnaround of a most divisive nature.
There is no data linking our trucking industry to the spread of the coronavirus. There is only a divisive government looking to exploit differences among Canadians. These truckers were standing up for their rights, and yes, those rights are covered in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and should not be trampled upon because the government says that the situation warrants it. They took to their trucks, drove to Ottawa and protested to uphold their rights. That is also their right.
Along the way, they gathered support from so many Canadians who are tired of the government’s overreach that has occurred during the pandemic. Canadians are tired of expensive government programs that show no sense and are only designed to frustrate Canadians at great cost. I am referring to the requirement for multiple tests and potential quarantines when Canadians return home from elsewhere. Government is making life more complex and expensive, with no tangible outcome to its protocols.
At the same time, Canadians are seeing the other side of the outcomes, the ones the government is not measuring, and one cannot manage what one does not measure: suicides, drug overdoses, mental health breakdowns, business failures, children falling behind in their educational and social development, our senior citizens spending their final years alone, lonely and inactive. It is little wonder these protesters gathered such a following across Canada in their challenge to a clear government overreach.
Rather than having anyone in government meet with these protesters, the Prime Minister, the divider-in-chief, ignored them and, to fuel the flame, described them as undesirables. Working Canadians, who had been our heroes shortly before, were now undesirables. This is hardly a step in resolving a dispute that arose through a gross government overreach. (1625)
Unfortunately, legal protests led to illegal blockades, and we cannot abide blockades, any blockades. The Prime Minister thinks he can decide to whom the law applies, but the rule of law needs to be clear. The blockades had to end, and the fact that they lasted as long as they did is another black eye for Canada’s standing in the world.
It could have been so easily averted, but the Prime Minister never took one step toward a constructive outcome. Such is his way. The effects of the last month will have lasting impacts on Canada.
One matter that needs to be addressed is the limits of peaceful protest in this country. If this latest blockade is an example of the escalation of acceptable protest in this country, then I think we are becoming largely ungovernable. How quickly we have fallen. I often wonder if it is the aim of the Prime Minister and the cabal around him to make this country less democratic, more divided and less law-abiding or if it is just incompetence of the highest order.
Let us recall the slide away from the rule of law regarding protests. Over the past six and a half years, the government sat on its hands while protests largely shut down huge swaths of the Canadian economy. Indeed, the government has delivered funding to organizations whose only intent was to protest and hold back Canadian economic development. Foreign funding blockades have been a part of Canada’s protest industry since this government arrived. It is this government’s motto and and this government’s agenda to have its policies bolstered by opaque foreign funding.
Here are the results: People have been hurt, property has been destroyed, projects have been delayed and cancelled, indigenous economic reconciliation has stalled, foreign investment capital has fled Canada and Canadian investment capital looks for opportunities elsewhere.
Let me take this moment to offer my gratitude to Canada’s law enforcement officials who intervened in the latest illegal action on Thursday night at the site where the Coastal GasLink pipeline is under construction. I understand that one officer was injured and that workers were threatened with serious harm. This cannot continue, and I hope the assailants are pursued to the full extent of the law.
Do we now understand why Canadians are unclear about the laws around protests? The government has made them intentionally unclear in order to ensure that those supporting its post-nation state agenda are able to thrive with public money and foreign funding.
This brings me to the most egregious portion of the orders associated with the Emergencies Act, which is to require any financial service provider to determine whether it has in its possession or control property that belongs to a person who participated in the blockade. I do not think the Minister of Finance has any notion of the financial implications of what this is proposing. She is asking Canadian banks to freeze, without judicial order, accounts of Canadians who have committed no crime.
As an example, a retiree who may have donated $50 to help her son’s appeal to support his right to protest will have her account frozen. She will have no way to pay for food or her retirement residence. There are human implications, but there are also huge implications for Canada’s financial system. When Canadians lose trust in Canadian banks, when our retirement savings are no longer considered safe for withdrawal and government can unilaterally freeze our bank accounts, Canada’s financial system will encounter a crisis. I ask the government to look ahead and consider these implications.
I also presented a motion at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance that would address this matter, and the committee will start meeting urgently to address this motion beginning Tuesday. I thank my colleagues in the other parties who helped this motion to pass on Thursday.
These implications cannot be addressed through the rear-view mirror, as has been the government’s practices. I take heart that there is at least one Liberal, the member for Louis-Hébert, who voted for our motion to get the government on a path to lessening mandates in this country. There is hope. (1630)
The motion we put forward last week was defeated in Parliament, but I was very pleased that the Bloc Québécois supported the motion.
I recall the member for Louis-Hébert clearly enunciating that the Prime Minister and his team had chosen to divide and stigmatize Canadians around the pandemic. This is not leadership. It is divisiveness and it is no way to govern.
I say to the Prime Minister that you reap what you sow. There is much division in this country, largely due to your choice to divide Canadians.
The world is watching Canada like never before, and not in a good way. I implore my colleagues and friends in both the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party to defy your party leadership. There is more at stake here than politics. Canadian democracy is at risk. Vote against this bill, I implore you.