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Invoking Emergencies Act sets 'dangerous precedent,' B.C. Civil Liberties Association says


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision to invoke emergency powers to deal with anti-mandate protesters sets a "dangerous precedent" for Canada, according to the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

The BCCLA issued a public statement Thursday denouncing Trudeau's use of the extraordinary powers granted under the Emergencies Act against Freedom Convoy demonstrators, arguing the government has failed to meet the legal threshold required to do so.

"The Emergencies Act is not a stop-gap measure to address the inaction of municipal police forces and provincial authorities," the BCCLA wrote.

"To be clear, governments have ample legal authorities without using the Emergencies Act."

The association also condemned the reported "violence, harassment, racism, and white supremacy" among some members of the Freedom Convoy movement, and argued the demonstrations have been "given disproportionately more latitude than other protests and actions led by racialized and oppressed groups."

But using Emergencies Act powers against the protesters would pave the way for the potential stifling of "important movements such as Black Lives Matter and Indigenous land and water defenders," the BCCLA said.

No previous government has used the Emergencies Act since it replaced the War Measures Act in 1988, and Trudeau's historic decision to invoke it earlier this week has been met with mixed reactions.

Under parliamentary oversight requirements, the government must table a motion in both the House and Senate within seven sitting days outlining the justification for the use of emergency powers. Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen has already said her party will not support the motion, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has expressed some hesitancy as well.

"We’ll listen very carefully to the debate before we place our votes, but we have indicated that we are supportive of taking a serious step to respond to this crisis,” Singh said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, convoy protesters have been preparing for more demonstrations this weekend, including in B.C.'s Lower Mainland. Supporters from the province's north and interior are expected to converge at the Pacific Highway Border Crossing, where a previous blockade was just dismantled Monday night.

Political scientist Stewart Prest, a professor at Simon Fraser University, speculated turnout at the latest protest could be diminished because of Trudeau's Emergencies Act invocation.

"Those who are really committed to this project, well, I would not be surprised if they show up," Prest added.

Surrey RCMP told CTV News officers will be monitoring the border and have contingency plans in place should another convoy arrive at the crossing.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Travis Prasad and's Sarah Turnbull Top Stories

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