Canada extends emergency powers after trucker blockades ended

Canadian lawmakers have voted to extend the emergency powers that police can invoke to quell any potential restart of blockades by those opposed to Covid-19 restrictions.

Lawmakers in Canada’s House of Commons voted 185 to 151 to affirm the powers.

The prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said earlier that the powers were still needed despite police ending the occupation of the nation’s capital by truckers over the weekend.

Bill Blair, the country’s emergency preparedness minister, said the protesters were going for the “lifeblood of this nation, which is trade with the United States”.

Trudeau noted there were some truckers just outside Ottawa who might be planning further blockades or occupations. His public safety minister said there was an attempt to block a border crossing in British Columbia over the weekend.

The Emergencies Act allows authorities to declare certain areas as no-go zones. It also allows police to freeze truckers’ personal and corporate bank accounts and compel tow truck companies to haul away vehicles.

The trucker protest grew until it closed a handful of Canada-US border posts and shut down key parts of the capital for more than three weeks. But all border blockades have now ended and the streets around the Canadian parliament are quiet.

Ottawa protesters who vowed never to give up are largely gone, chased away by police in riot gear in what was the biggest police operation in the nation’s history.

“The situation is still fragile, the state of emergency is still there,” Trudeau said before the vote.

The opposition New Democratic Party supported it, ensuring Trudeau had enough votes. The NDP’s leader, Jagmeet Singh, said there are protesters waiting in the areas surrounding Ottawa and in the capital itself.

“They need to be cleared out,” said Singh, who also noted there have been convoys that have been intercepted.

“This is an attack on our democracy. This is a group of folks who are very clearly connected to the extreme right…

Read full story at the guardian.com

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