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Poilievre says he wants to 'curtail' Emergencies Act to prevent it from being used again for 'political purposes'

National Post logo National Post 2022-05-16 Christopher Nardi
In evoking the Emergencies Act, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau © Provided by National Post In evoking the Emergencies Act, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
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Conservative leadership hopeful Pierre Poilievre says he is consulting with legal experts to find a way to “curtail” the federal Emergencies Act to prevent it from being used for “political purposes” like during the Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa.

“I’m consulting with legal scholars on how we can curtail the power and limit the use of the Emergencies Act in the future,” Poilievre said during an hour-and-a-half conversation with media personality and former University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson uploaded to social media Monday.

“But I do think we need to craft changes to the act that will prevent it from being abused for political purposes like this again,” he added.

Poilievre was referring to how the Justin Trudeau Liberals controversially invoked the Emergencies Act in February, granting government and police forces new and exceptional powers to quash the “Freedom Convoy” blockades that closed down some U.S. border crossings and clogged the streets of downtown Ottawa for weeks.

The Act namely allowed police to force tow truck operators to move against blockading vehicles, but also gave government the ability to freeze financial accounts tied to convoy participants.

The act was revoked nine days later after a three-day police operation cleared the streets of Ottawa and led to hundreds of arrests. The city’s police chief repeatedly said the protests were “illegal” and amounted to a “siege” of the national capital.

The Liberals have since argued they had no choice but to invoke the powers to put an end to the blockades, which they say were crippling the economy to the tune of $390 million per day in lost trade.

But critics, including civil liberties groups, experts and opposition parties such as the Conservatives, have accused the Liberals of overstepping the boundary and wielding excessive force by invoking the act.

During the conversation with Peterson, Poilievre accused Trudeau of invoking the act because he was “angry” about being personally targeted by the protesters and wanted to avoid facing “the political consequences of a democratic protest.”

“He also wanted to be as malicious as possible to deter any similar protests,” Poilievre said.

The Conservative MP did not detail how an eventual Poilievre government would curtail the Emergencies Act, but he insisted that it had to be done carefully because he did see a purpose for those powers in certain extreme cases.

“I want to be very careful though in how I do it because, you know, this is an incredibly blunt instrument. But in times of war for foreign attack or something like that, you can understand why there might be an occasion where these powers might be needed,” he told Peterson.

“You would think that it would be used in a case where there was a foreign invasion, or a monstrous terrorist attack, or something of that magnitude,” he also said.

That was far from Poilievre’s only attack on Trudeau and his government during the wide-ranging interview that covered issues like freedom, media funding,

Poilievre called Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault a “total nut” that is “bonkers,” accusing him of being against nuclear energy as well as oil and gas.

When asked by Peterson what he thought about the prime minister, Poilievre immediately called Trudeau an “egomaniac” who takes power away from individuals or families and instead gives it to the government.

He also likened Trudeau to French king Louis XIV, who ruled for over 70 years and was known for his lust for power.

“I think he’s an egomaniac, and I think everything he does comes back to his egomania,” Poilievre said. “If you really think about his expansionistic role of the State, it never comes back to serving an individual objective other than to make him more powerful or his legacy more grand.”

“He believes the State has to be everywhere always. That’s because, as King Louis would say, ‘L’État c’est moi,’ ” he added. “The State is him.”


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