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Canadian Civil Liberties Association takes federal government to court over Emergencies Act

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is taking the federal government to court over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s historic move to invoke the Emergencies Act this week.

“The government has brought in extreme law that has never been used, and it announced emergency orders that will have sweeping consequences,” said Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “Orders that have passed outside of ordinary democratic processes.”

On Monday, Trudeau became the first Canadian leader to invoke the federal Emergencies Act as a last resort to terminate protests verging on a fourth weekend in the nation’s capital.

The CCLA, a Canadian non-profit devoted to defending constitutional rights, called Trudeau’s move “extraordinary” and “unconstitutional,” urging that legal requirements put in place to safeguard democratic processes have not been met.

“The Emergencies Act is clear. It has to be a very serious danger to the life, health and safety of Canadians that is completely overwhelming to the provinces or it has to be a serious threat to the territorial integrity, security or sovereignty of Canada that Canada does not already have laws to address,” Mendelsohn Aviv said.

To address these concerns, the CCLA said it has launched a judicial review challenging the federal government’s invocation of emergency measures. 

The organization condemned demonstrators displaying violent, racist and homophobic acts on the streets of Ottawa, and conveyed sympathy for the residents in surrounding areas who have been heavily impacted by persistent disruptions to their communities.

However, Abby Deshman, CCLA’s director of criminal justice, said, “In our view, the thresholds set out in the Emergencies Act, the legal requirements put in place to safeguard our democratic processes, have not been met.”

While the prime minister has stressed that the new emergency powers will be targeted, the CCLA said the actual written text is not limited to specific cities or provinces. Instead, they said it applies to every single Canadian.

“They are not geographically limited, they do not target specific protests, they apply universally across the country.” Top Stories

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