The Canadian Civil Liberties statement 18 February 2022
This is an extreme law that has never been used before and will have sweeping consequences on individuals, orders that it passed outside of ordinary processes. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has spoken out loudly against this declaration and today we have our own announcement.
We are taking the government of Canada to court. We are here today because of the government’s response to the protests and blockades. The government’s emergency declaration is unprecedented and seriously infringes the Charter rights of Canadians.
The government has brought in an extreme measure that should be reserved for national emergencies, a legal standard that has not been met. Emergency powers cannot, and must not, be normalised.
For all the peaceful and disruptive protests in Canada’s history, some involving unlawful acts and protracted standoffs with police, never before has a government declared a national emergency under the emergencies act and with that given itself enormous power to bypass the ordinary accountable democratic process.
Our commitment to equality and other rights is the reason that we strongly support the Charter right to peaceful assembly. This is how marginalised people can stand up for their rights. Protest is how people in a democracy express and share their political messages of all kinds, whether they be environmental activists, students taking to the streets, indigenous land defenders, workers on strike, people who know black lives matter, and others who oppose government measures of all kinds our society needs peaceful assembly, a critical democratic tool, and even though not every person may agree with the content of every movement.
Many protests are disruptive. It is possible for a gathering to be both disruptive and peaceful and non-violent. Disruptive protest, while often unlawful – like shutting down pipelines or camping out in a public space – can be the most effective way of raising awareness.