The twenty-day occupation of Canada’s capital Ottawa by protesting truckers looks to be coming to an end after police detained at least two organizers on Thursday and walled off a major area of the city, confining it to residents only.
Two of the primary organizers of the Freedom Convoy 2022, Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, were detained on Thursday evening as authorities moved to break the siege of Ottawa before it entered another weekend.
The news comes just days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared a state of emergency in the country to address the unrest, calling it a “threat to democracy.”
“Under the Emergencies Act, the Unified Command in control of policing in Ottawa has established a Secured Area to ensure that individuals comply with the Emergency Measures Regulations and to ensure designated places (Parliament, Government buildings, critical infrastructure, etc.) are protected,” said the Ottawa police service in a statement.
The use of the Emergencies Act is likely to be considered in the House of Commons for the first time since it was adopted in 1988, with Trudeau claiming that “illegal blockades and occupations are not peaceful protests.”
Several civil liberties organizations have threatened to take the case to court if the unusual action is implemented.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has announced that it will challenge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration over the policy. On Thursday, executive director Noa Mendelsohn stated, “The government has brought in an extreme measure that should be reserved for national emergencies, a legal standard that has not been met.”
The emergency was also challenged by Amnesty International, and the Canadian Constitution Foundation, which is also pursuing legal action, warned Trudeau of creating a “dangerous precedent.”
Trudeau presided over a meeting of the incident response group, and his office issued a statement highlighting the actions done under the Emergency Economic Measures Order, which is part of the Emergencies Act.
“All orders of government have authority to share relevant information with financial institutions, and personal and corporate accounts suspected of being involved in criminal activity have been frozen.” This includes “increased oversight of funds raised through online fundraising platforms in Canada and abroad,” according to the statement.