Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Today's News: an imaginary bouncy castle of 20-20 hindsight

Very disappointing to see a Federal Court judge, Justice Richard Mosely, create an imaginary rewrite of history to conclude that Ottawa really hadn't needed to invoke the Emergencies Act against the freedum convoy protests and blockades in February 2022.
Instead, he argues, Trudeau could have constructed an imaginary bouncy castle of police forces magically enforcing provincial laws to save Ottawa's sanity, rescue Canadian trade, and blunt the Convoy fundraising momentum without being mean or upsetting anyone. 
So rude, you know!
Political scientist Emmett MacFarlane describes the ruling as A Dubious Judgement on the Emergencies Act:
In a ruling sure to be appealed, a Federal Court judge has deemed the federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act (EA) during the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests unlawful and found that the measures employed under it violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Because the decision primarily concerned the decision to invoke the EA (rather than the constitutionality of any provisions of the EA itself), the Court’s job was to assess the reasonableness of the decision “with deference owed to the decision maker and its specialized expertise” (para. 202). The judge, however, ends up not so much reviewing the reasonableness of the decision in light of the circumstances facing the government so much as undertaking a total reappraisal, with the judge substituting his judgment for that of the government’s, with little to no deference to be found.
...the EA does not require that federal government to spend time on the metaphysical questions posed by multi-versal ponderings of the imagined parallel universe where Doug Ford took governance and public safety seriously, before they decided to address the national emergency at hand with the last resort tool they had available - a tool, mind you, that worked to finally end the occupation. As I wrote at the time: “The POEC demonstrated what was already clear to those of us who followed the convoy protests themselves: the police were either unable or unwilling to act. It doesn’t matter, frankly, what existing laws might or should have been able to deal with: they did not, and therefore could not handle the occupation of the country’s capital.”
... Judge Mosley concludes instead that “There appears to be have been no obstacle to assembling the large number of police officers from a variety of other forces ultimately required to assist the OPS to remove the blockade participants (para. 250).” I suppose we’re expected to believe it was mere coincidence that blockade participants did not end their siege until the EA was invoked, and the few tools enacted under it were implemented...
In summary: Actually, I would argue the Canada-wide emergency in February 2022 that justified the Emergencies Act wasn't the mess on the Ottawa streets, but rather the impact of border blockages on Canadian business. 
The Ottawa honk-honk was mainly a local problem, though it was so badly mishandled by both civic and provincial authorities that it became a national embarrassment. But the primary national problem with the protest was the continuing threat to cross-border trade, to the point that Canadian manufacturing and auto industries would move to the United States unless Canada was willing to take swift and fierce action to guarantee that a random bunch of bearded yahoos would be shut down and would not be able to threaten the cross-border trade economy. 
Yeah, I know - the story now is how the border blockades were already dismantled before the Emergencies Act was introduced. But what we heard at the time was about how more trucks and farm equipment was on the way to border crossings across the country. Only the Emergencies Act gave RCMP the immediate authority to turn the tide, to stop convoys before they reached the borders, and to disrupt their financing. 
Basically, when Alberta Farmer Dad heard that his tractor and combine could actually be confiscated, the phone call went out real quick "Son, you've had your fun but it's time to come home! Now!" Even Canadian small-c conservatives are questioning the court decision:
The nuttiness will never stop:


rumleyfips said...

Interesting that the judge just said the action was unreasonable. If he thought it was illegal or unconstitutional he could have said so. Obviously he thought it was neither.

Cap said...

Justice Mosley concluded that there was "no national emergency justifying the invocation of the Emergencies Act and the decision to do so was therefore unreasonable and ultra vires." Ultra vires means "beyond the government's legal authority" and is pure Latin lawyer-talk meaning "illegal." "Illegal" in turn is a fine Latinate word that means the same thing as the stout old Anglo-Saxon word "unlawful." Hope that clears things up.

Of course, the Rouleau Commission heard more evidence and came to the opposite conclusion, so it'll be interesting to see where the appeal courts go with this.

Purple library guy said...

In Vancouver, we had those bastards for One. Day. Why? Because the mayor of Vancouver said OK, you people can have your protest like anyone else, but you are not welcome here and that one day is all you get. They got the message and cleared the hell out. So yes, clearly governments had the tools if they chose to use them.

But, Ontario's and Ottawa (as a city)'s chose not to, and it was necessary that something be done. The federal government had little choice but to make up for their failures to uphold the rule of law.

Cathie from Canada said...

Purple, I remember seeing a video at the time of a group of people on bikes who blocked Commercial Drive (I think) to prevent the truckers from driving downtown and police wanted to move the bikes out of the way and the people said NO WAY, WE'RE STAYING! and police backed off. And that was that.
I also remember reading of a convoy group that was heading through White Rock to the Peace Arch but RCMP were able to stop them because of the Emergencies Act.
There were so many stories across Canada about things that happened but I don't think anyone ever gathered them all together -- its a project that The Globe and Mail or the National Post should have done but didn't, I guess.