What is the Emergencies Act, which Trudeau invoked against Canada’s trucker protests?

A demonstrator bangs gas canisters together in Ottawa on Feb. 10. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

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.

Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act against Canada’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ trucker protest