A Circular Backlash
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revoked the use of emergency powers to deal with the “Freedom Convoy” trucker protests, just days after lawmakers voted to extend them, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Trudeau said the decision followed consultations with police and other security officials, adding that law enforcement has been able to control the demonstrations and maintain public safety without extraordinary measures.
Last week, Trudeau became the first Canadian leader in history to invoke emergency powers. He did so to dismantle the protests that had paralyzed the capital, Ottawa, blocked crucial US-Canada border crossings for three weeks and disrupted trade. The “Freedom Convoy” was initially a protest against vaccine mandates for truckers but soon turned into a broader movement against all pandemic-related measures.
On Monday, the lower house of parliament agreed to extend the powers for 30-days, which would allow the authorities to designate no-protest zones and compel service providers to remove vehicles. It also permitted police to freeze the bank accounts of those connected to the protest movement.
Authorities said that financial institutions had frozen more than 200 accounts. While the government defended the freezing of accounts as a way to “disrupt illegal activity in Canada,” some analysts warned that the decision could impact people unaffiliated with the demonstrations, the Journal reported separately.
On Tuesday, Canada ordered banks to unlock their financial accounts.
Meanwhile, many criticized the invocation of the emergency powers. They labeled the move as government overreach and an infringement on individual rights.
At least two civil-liberties organizations said last week they would take the government to court over the issue, and the western province of Alberta announced that it will launch its own legal challenge.