Civil liberties advocates say they will not back down on War Measures (Emergencies) Act

Federal Court of Appeal
Federal Court of Appeal Courtesy Andrew Lee/CBC

Civil rights lawyers said all future cabinets are on notice against misusing the War Measures (Emergencies) Act to quash peaceful protests, according to Blacklock’s Reporter. 

“I want to be crystal clear,” said Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) Executive Director Noa Mendelsohn Aviv at a press conference. 

“We will fight them tooth and nail at the Federal Court of Appeal.”

The Federal Court of Canada ruled on Tuesday the decision to use the War Measures (Emergencies) Act to respond to the Freedom Convoy was unreasonable and excessive, validating the claims made in a lawsuit brought by various civil liberties groups. 

READ MORE: UPDATED: Federal Court declares War Measures (Emergencies) Act usage against Freedom Convoy wrong

“It is declared that the Regulations infringed Section 2b) of the Charter and declared that the Order infringed Section 8 of the Charter and that neither infringement was justified under Section 1,” said the Federal Court. 

“There is no award of costs.” 

After the decision was announced, cabinet confirmed it would appeal it.

“It has significant implications for the future,” said Mendelsohn Aviv. 

“This and every future government is on notice.”

With all future governments, she said they “need to know even in times of crisis, especially perhaps in times of crisis when emotions are running high, no government is above the law.” Even in times of crisis, she said basic rights and freedoms have to be upheld. 

Mendelsohn Aviv concluded by saying people who care and are concerned about rights and freedoms are paying close attention. She pledged the CCLA will not stand by if this or any future government gives itself unreasonable emergency powers. 

“We will not stand by if government overreaches,” she said. 

“We will speak up in the face of unjustifiable Charter violations.”

Lawyers with the CCLA and the Canadian Constitution Foundation argued in the Federal Court the Emergencies Act breached Freedom Convoy protestors’ freedom of expression and protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Lower courts documented cases where Freedom Convoy sympthasizers’ Facebook posts resulted in mischief charges or police monitoring of their credit union accounts. 

CCLA counsel Ewa Krajewska said the War Measures (Emergencies) Act is an act of last resort. 

“It should not be invoked for convenience or expediency,” said Krajewska. 

“The situation did not rise to the level of a serious threat to the security of Canada.”

Krajewska acknowledged cabinet and RCMP “have the necessary powers to deal with protests under existing laws.” Therefore, they did not need to invoke the Emergencies Act. 

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