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MP Zimmer urges defeat of Emergencies Act

'This will be his crescendo... This is really who the prime minister is'

Local MP Bob Zimmer says the Trudeau government’s use of the Emergencies Act against Freedom Convoy demonstrators must be defeated for the sake of the country, and challenged the NDP on Saturday to join the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois in voting against it.

MPs resumed their debate Saturday on the government's historic invocation of the Emergencies Act after a suspension on Friday, and as significant police action continues to end the demonstrations on Parliament Hill.

Through the act, new powers have been granted to freeze bank accounts of protest participants and bar people from assembling in specific places or joining protests that threaten trade, critical infrastructure, individuals or property.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Canadian Constitution Foundation both launched legal challenges this week, calling the measures "extreme" and that a legal standard that has not been met.

“This becomes a great concern for that mother or grandmother that donated $20 for the cause of freedom for the truckers convoy,” Zimmer said. “What started off as a simple protest for truckers mandates has developed into something much larger and to a defence of freedom in Canada.”

“For that grandmother that’s donated $20, is she on some Liberal list now that can’t travel after this? We don’t know,” Zimmer said. “We don’t know how far and wide this act will take what the prime minister’s trying to do.”

Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told a news conference today that authorities have frozen 76 bank accounts with $3.2 million attributed to the blockade.

Police continue to close in around demonstrators who are still in the heart of the protest site in downtown Ottawa where they have been encamped for the past three weeks. Rows of officers carrying batons and tear gas are assembled along Wellington Street near the Prime Minister's Office.

Ottawa Police say they made 100 arrests on Friday and 47 arrests so far today. They also say they've towed 38 vehicles since Friday and have cleared a stretch of Wellington Street that runs in front of Parliament.

Mendicino said the Emergencies Act is giving police additional tools to restore order in downtown Ottawa.

"The very carefully tailored measures which have been included as part of the declaration under the Emergencies Act are targeted, they're time-limited and they are Charter guaranteed," Mendicino said.

"We will only use the Emergencies Act as long as it is necessary," he said.

In the House, Zimmer said a prime minister is supposed to unite Canadians with his words, and blamed Justin Trudeau for inflaming civic tensions by labelling his political opponents as extremists, and calling them “racist” and “misogynist.”

Zimmer also pointed to the controversial values test imposed on the summer student jobs program in 2017, which Zimmer said pitted Canadians with differing opinions against Trudeau, and denied funding to more than 1500 community groups. 

“Sunny ways” Trudeau has not proven to be the great unifier of Canada, Zimmer said.

“This will be his crescendo,” Zimmer said. “This is really who the prime minister is.”

MPs will vote early next week on the Emergencies Act motion. The Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois parties both plan to vote against it.

Jagmeet Singh says the entire NDP caucus is united behind his decision to support the use of the Emergencies Act, allowing Justin Trudeau to push the measures through the House of Commons.

Zimmer called on both Liberals and NDP to vote against the act, and said just 20 MPs are needed to ensure it fails.

“Are a bunch of truckers or peaceful freedom-loving Canadians, are they the problem today?" Zimmer said. “They are not. The prime minister and his Emergencies Act is, and it needs to be defeated.”

“For the sake of our democracy and this country, it needs to,” he said.

— with Canadian Press files