Parliamentary debate to confirm public order emergency

Current developments related to declaration of public order emergency

On February 16, a motion was tabled in the House of Commons to confirm the February 14 declaration of a public order emergency by the Prime Minister under the Emergencies Act. It was tabled by Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino. The motion reads: “That, pursuant to section 58 of the Emergencies Act, this House confirm the declaration of a public order emergency proclaimed on February 14, 2022.”

The motion was tabled after the Canada Gazette on February 15 published the related regulations that the Liberal Government has decreed.

The debate on the motion started on Thursday, February 17. With the agreement of all the recognized parties in the House it was scheduled to continue Friday through to Sunday from 7:00 am to 11:59 pm, with a recorded vote scheduled for no later than 8:00 pm Monday, February 21. Early Friday morning, the scheduled debate was cancelled when the Parliamentary Precinct Police advised all MPs, Senators and parliamentary staff to stay away due to the police operations to clear the “Freedom Convoy” out of the area. The debate in the House resumed at 7:00 am on Saturday, February 19, notwithstanding ongoing confrontations between police and remaining protestors.

The Emergencies Act requires the Government to table documents proclaiming the public order emergency and the regulatory powers set out in both the Senate and the House of Commons within seven days to seek confirmation.

This is despite the fact that both the public order emergency declaration and regulations went into effect as soon as they were issued, making debate and approval moot in terms of the implementation. If the confirmation motions are adopted in the House of Commons and the Senate, the emergency declaration and regulations will remain in place for 30 days; longer if an extension is requested and approved by Parliament.

In their presentations, the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois both argued that the threshold for invoking the Emergencies Act has not been met, that it is not necessary and that they will vote against it. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said that his MPs will reluctantly support the government motion but will be watching closely to see that the government does not overstep.The NDP also wants an inquiry to be held to investigate how the situation reached this point. Elizabeth May of the Green Party said she is not certain about the need for the Emergencies Act and has not decided how to vote.

In the course of the debate, the opposition parties have accused the Prime Minister and the government of refusing to lead, of allowing the situation to escalate, and say that the tools necessary to end the border blockades and the occupation of Ottawa already existed but were not used.

The Senate was on a week-long adjournment when the Emergencies Act was declared. On Friday, February 18, the Senate issued a notice for its members to reconvene, but it did not end up meeting due to the police advisory to stay away from the Parliamentary Precinct. Later on the same day, the Senate announced that its adjournment would stay in effect until Monday, February 21 at 2:00 pm when it will begin its deliberations on the matter.

(Renewal Update, posted February 19, 2022)

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