No to the Emergencies Act

 Posted on February 15, 2022
Feb 152022
Riot police in background with text overlayed: "No to the Emergencies Act, Defend Civil Liberties, Enforce Hate Laws"

Defend Civil Liberties – Enforce Hate Laws

News that the federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act to deal with the continuing occupation of Ottawa by the so-called truckers’ convoy led by far-right and fascist forces, may sound like a good idea to some, but it is a sledgehammer that will suspend the civil and democratic rights of everyone in Canada, effectively imposing martial law across the country. Though the Prime Minister promises to be selective in using the arbitrary powers he has acquired, the Emergency Act effectively suspends the Charter of Rights, eliminating civil and democratic rights in Canada.

The Emergencies Act is the new name for the War Measures Act which has only been used three times in Canadian history, twice during the first and second World Wars, and in 1970 during the occupation of Quebec by federal troops.

The name change was the result of massive opposition to this use of war-time legislation against civilian populations. The legislation should have been abolished. Instead it will be used to do the job in Ottawa that police have already done in Windsor without this draconian legislation.

It has been widely noted, especially by residents of Ottawa, that the Ottawa police have done almost nothing and in many ways have facilitated the ongoing occupation. Police inaction in Ottawa stands in stark contrast to harsh repression against Indigenous peoples whenever Indigenous sovereignty clashes with the capitalist theft of land and resources, or with the mass arrests of thousands that took place during the G20 protests in 2010 or during the Quebec Student Strike in 2012. The numerous connections between police, state intelligence, active and veteran military personnel and the far-right occupation has been widely reported. All this demonstrates that new policing, surveillance and repression powers will ultimately be used against the labour and people’s movements as opposed to the far-right.

What’s missing in Ottawa is the will to politically oppose and act against the far-right core of this movement, to use existing criminal and anti-hate laws to arrest and detain all those advocating hate and threatening violence against women, Muslims, Jews, racialized people, immigrants, Communists, liberals and social democrats, and all those who oppose hate.

Working people across Canada have protested in the streets, demanding the government act against hate; defend public health, hospitals and healthcare workers; stand up for science and for public health measures that could have prevented the deaths of thousands in Canada if they had been implemented early and consistently by federal and provincial governments.

Instead governments have pandered to Big Business interests, using the pandemic as cover for a massive transfer of wealth to the pockets of the biggest corporations in Canada, while millions of people lost their jobs, bankruptcies of small restaurants and businesses exploded, and many working people lost everything, including their hope for a better future for themselves and their children.

If politicians are frightened by the mob occupying Ottawa and other locations across Canada, they should be. This is not a protest, it’s a political movement of the far-right with funding and support from within the ranks of police and military, and from white supremacist and fascist forces around the world.

The antidote is immediate action, using existing laws, to protect the public and disperse the occupation. It is to protect and strengthen democratic and civil rights, not eliminate them altogether with the Emergencies Act.

The antidote is to act decisively to protect public health, by supporting public healthcare and healthcare workers with adequate funding, increased wages and better working conditions, reversing privatization and expanding Medicare to include long-term care and pharmacare.

The antidote is to act for a People’s Recovery: good jobs, increased pensions and wages, affordable social housing; quality public childcare; strong social programs; abolition of student debt, real action on climate change; and greatly increased corporate taxes with tax relief for workers and the unemployed. This is the antidote to widespread despair and justified anger.

Big Business may think the Emergencies Act is a good idea – eliminating both border delays and the right to strike. But working people – the labour, democratic, and civil rights’ movements, the NDP, the Green, and the Bloc, must speak up to oppose this sledgehammer to democracy. – which suspends the Constitutional and Charter rights of every citizen and resident, despite Trudeau’s assurance that he won’t act arbitrarily. How far will the PM go? “Just watch me” said Pierre Trudeau when he invoked martial law in 1970.

The Communist Party stands with anti-fascist, anti-racist protestors who are the real public defenders today, and calls on the labour, democratic and civil rights movements to speak up now against the invocation of the Emergencies Act, in defence of civil liberties and for government action to protect the public from the occupation using existing legislation and anti-hate laws.

Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada