TORONTO: The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) has announced it is launching a legal challenge to the federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act. The challenge will be by way of urgent application for judicial review at the Federal Court.
“Prime Minister Trudeau has set a dangerous precedent by invoking the never before used federal Emergencies Act to address the current situation. The high threshold for declaring a public order emergency in the Emergencies Act has not been met. The Act has been invoked to address a failure to use existing legal tools under the Criminal Code, which were used effectively on the Ambassador Bridge. The federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act as a matter of political convenience. This is illegal and violates the rule of law, and that’s why we are challenging the government in court,” said CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn.
The Emergencies Act was enacted to replace the discredited War Measures Act, which was used during the Second World War to intern Japanese Canadians and Italian Canadians, and during the FLQ Crisis in Quebec. The Act is drafted carefully and narrowly, to ensure the federal government cannot abuse emergency powers ever again. The Act defines a national emergency as “an urgent and critical situation of a temporary nature that (a) 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, or (b) seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada”. It also requires that the federal government demonstrate that this situation cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.
“Emergency legislation should not be normalized. The threshold for using the Emergencies Act is extremely high and has not been met. The decision to invoke the Emergencies Act, which has never been used or interpreted by the courts, is unprecedented. If Parliament authorizes the proclamation of the public order emergency, the courts will be the last defence for the rule of law”, continued Van Geyn. “This isn’t about the convoy versus the city. This is about the rule of law.”
The CCF is represented by lawyers Sujit Choudhry and Janani Shanmuganathan.
Members of the public who are interested in supporting the case can make a tax deductible charitable donation at theccf.ca/emergenciesact/