OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday invoked far-reaching, never-before-used emergency powers to try to end the demonstrations that have blocked major thoroughfares in the Canadian capital for more than two weeks and snarled traffic on the U.S.-Canada border.
The invocation of the Emergencies Act came as law enforcement officials at all levels of government were drawing intense criticism for a response to a spiraling crisis that many here have felt was insufficient — weighing on Canada’s international reputation and trust in public institutions.
“The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety,” Trudeau, flanked by several top cabinet ministers, told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa. “We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue.”
What started in late January as a self-styled “Freedom Convoy” of demonstrators opposed to vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers has metastasized into protests against all coronavirus measures and Trudeau. The protests have drawn some far-right agitators, rippled across Canada and inspired copycats abroad.
Here’s what you need to know about the Emergencies Act and what could happen next.