Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing tough opposition in Parliament as he battles to maintain his emergency powers in a crackdown on Freedom Convoy protesters.
On Thursday, legislation upholding Trudeau’s declaration under the Emergencies Act was presented in Parliament, where Conservative and Bloc Québécois MPs voiced fierce opposition.
However, the left-leaning New Democrats said they would reluctantly support Trudeau’s minority Liberal government, virtually ensuring passage of the measure upholding his emergency powers in the House of Commons. Together the two parties hold 184 seats out of 338 in the lower chamber.
Under law, any use of the Emergencies Act must be brought before Parliament within seven days for approval.
Debate began Thursday and will continue, according to the Act, ‘without interruption’ until the vote is called, which is expected to occur as soon as Friday. Canada’s largely ceremonial Senate will also consider the matter on Friday.
As debate raged in Parliament, police poured into downtown Ottawa on Thursday in what truckers feared was a prelude to a crackdown on their protest over vaccine mandates, which has paralyzed the streets of the capital for nearly three weeks.
Ottawa’s Interim Police Chief Steve Bell said at a press conference on Thursday that checkpoints are being established to lock down the city’s core and prevent additional protesters from joining the demonstration. He said protesters currently camped out at the demonstration are free to leave, and encouraged them to do so.
Addressing the House, Trudeau pleaded with legislators to support his extraordinary powers, which have enabled him to summarily freeze bank accounts and crypto wallets tied to the protests in a bid to cut off funding for the movement.
‘It’s high time that these illegal and dangerous activities stop,’ Trudeau declared in Parliament, not far from where the more than 300 trucks were parked in the protest’s final stand around Parliament Hill.
‘They are a threat to our economy and our relationship with trading partners,’ he said. ‘They are a threat to public safety.’
Addressing the House of Commons, Trudeau pleaded with legislators to support his extraordinary powers, which have enabled him to summarily freeze bank accounts and crypto wallets tied to the protests
Just outside the doors of Parliament, protesters continued to gather Thursday as Trudeau made his case to legislators
More than 300 trucks were still parked in Ottawa’s core in the protest’s final stand around Parliament Hill
Opposition Leader Candice Bergen of the Conservative Party responded by slamming Trudeau’s request as ‘not consistent with fundamental freedoms.’
‘The Government should not have the power to close the bank accounts of Canadians on a whim,’ Bergen told Parliament.
‘I urge all members of this House—proceed with extreme caution. Now is the time to stand up for your constituents, to show real leadership, to help heal our divisions, to listen to those we disagree with.’
Yves-François Blanchet, the leader of the center-left Bloc Québécois, said that his party would join with Conservatives in opposing Trudeau’s emergency powers.
In Quebec, the memory of the 1970 October Crisis, when Trudeau’s father flooded the streets with soldiers using emergency war powers in response to a diplomat’s kidnapping, still rings bitterly for many.
However, when NDP leader Jagmeet Singh signaled his party’s support for Trudeau, it became clear that the Liberals would almost certainly have the votes to defeat any opposition.
Singh said his party would withdraw its support if the emergency powers are abused, telling the House that Canada reached this point through a failure of political and police leadership at multiple levels.
‘We are not proud of supporting these measures,’ Singh said in response to a question.
‘This is my hope: That our decisions in the coming days are guided by this desire to build a better and safer, more just world where all of our children believe that they belong,’ said Singh.
The fierce debate comes after Trudeau’s justice minister warned that people who donated to support the Freedom Convoy ‘ought to be worried’ about having their bank accounts frozen, saying they are part of a ‘pro-Trump movement’.
Justice Minister David Lametti made the remark in an interview with CTV News Channel on Wednesday night, where host Evan Solomon pressed him on whether average citizens who donated to the protests should be worried about account seizures.
‘If you are a member of a pro-Trump movement who is donating hundreds of thousands of dollars, and millions of dollars to this kind of thing, then you ought to be worried,’ said Lametti.
Opposition Leader Candice Bergen of the Conservative Party slammed Trudeau’s request to approve his emergency powers as ‘not consistent with fundamental freedoms’
Yves-François Blanchet, the leader of the center-left Bloc Québécois, said that his party would join with Conservatives in opposing Trudeau’s emergency powers
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh signaled his party’s support for Trudeau, making it clear that the Liberals would almost certainly have the votes to defeat any opposition and approve the Emergencies Act declaration
Lametti defended the government seizure of bank accounts tied to the protests against vaccine mandates as a simple ‘extending’ of the procedures used to stop ‘terrorist financing’.
About 44 percent of the nearly $10 million in contributions to support the protesters originated from US donors, according to hacked donor files. Some 92,800 individual donors are listed in the leaked files.
After invoking the Emergencies Act this week for the first time in 50 years, Trudeau now has extraordinary powers, which include seizing assets such as bank accounts without judicial review or ordinary due process.
Meanwhile, Trudeau was reprimanded in Parliament on Wednesday when he accused a Conservative Party MP Melissa Lantsman, who is Jewish, of ‘standing with people who wave swastikas’ after she criticized his handling of the Freedom Convoy protests.
This is the second time Trudeau has claimed swastikas are being waved by protesters, and he smeared them as being ‘swastika-wavers’ in the first week of protests. A flag incorporating the Nazi symbol was spotted in the initial days of the protests, but a reporter has not seen any at the protest in Ottawa.
Lantsman on Wednesday night demanded an apology from Trudeau.
‘He has not apologized, and I expect an apology,’ Lantsman said in an interview with Fox News. ‘I think the division in this country is growing and it’s growing because of the prime minister’s rhetoric on this.’
On Thursday morning, protesters continued their three-week-old blockade of central Ottawa, after Trudeau’s administration claimed the movement against vaccine mandates is under the influence of extremists who want to overthrow his Liberal government.
Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti has warned that people who donated to support the Freedom Convoy ‘ought to be worried’ about having their bank accounts frozen
An Ontario Provincial Police vehicle is parked by the ongoing trucker blockade protest in Ottawa on Thursday. Hundreds of truckers clogging the streets of Canada’s capital city in a protest against COVID-19 restrictions are bracing for a crackdown
Ontario Provincial Police officers walk in front of the ongoing trucker blockade protest in Ottawa on Thursday
Crew adds more fences to Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, as truckers and supporters continue to protest there on Thursday
People walk in a cold rain with Canadian flags near signage of support for the truckers, as truckers and supporters continue to protest vaccine mandates in Ottawa on Thursday
In Wednesday’s interview with CTV, Lametti faced tough grilling over what recourse average citizens would have if their bank accounts were wrongfully frozen.
‘We already do this with respect to terrorist financing, we already do this with respect to money laundering,’ he responded.
‘What we are doing is extending the same kind of principles and procedures to this situation,’ explained Lametti.
Lametti said that the process relied on the ‘reasonableness’ of investigators, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in order to identify bank accounts for seizure.
The donor list to a GiveSendGo campaign that raised more than $8.6 million to support the protest is now public information after hackers stole the information and released it.
Numerous protest organizers have reported freezes on their bank accounts, but it is unclear whether Trudeau’s government has moved to seize the assets of ordinary citizens who simply donated to the protests.
Under the Emergencies Act, Mounties have already requested freezes on more than 30 cryptocurrency wallets thought to be connected to the protests, multiple Canadian exchanges told the Financial Post.
Elon Musk waded into the controversy on Twitter by posting an incendiary meme comparing Trudeau to Hitler
The RCMP called on exchanges to immediately disclose ‘any information about a transaction or proposed transaction’ connected to the wallet addresses.
‘It is unfortunate that the Emergency Economic Measures Order is indiscriminately targeting the whole cryptocurrency ecosystem,’ the Toronto-based exchange CoinSmart said in a statement. ‘We will cooperate with the OPP and the RCMP and fulfill our obligations, if any, under the Emergency Economic Measures Order.’
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, waded into the controversy on Twitter by posting an incendiary meme comparing Trudeau to the genocidal dictator Adolf Hitler.
‘Stop comparing me to Justin Trudeau… I had a budget,’ reads the meme featuring an image of Hitler, which Musk tweeted in response to an article about the freeze on certain crypto wallets.
GiveSendGo founder Jacob Wells on Wednesday slammed Trudeau’s administration as a ‘group of terrorists’ and called on the FBI to investigate the hackers who shut down its site on Sunday and released the information of its more than 92,000 donors.
‘This is illegal, and these people should be going to jail,’ Wells told Fox News. ‘The FBI – I mean, it’s surprising that we haven’t heard from any investigative services. We will be reaching out ourselves to just see that there’s some investigation into this. This is completely unacceptable.’
Twitter has freely allowed the sharing of articles based on the hacked donor list, despite a policy against hacked materials that the social media giant cited in blocking articles based on material from Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop.
Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, is seen in Parliament on Wednesday, when he accused members of the Conservative Party – including a Jewish MP – of ‘standing with people who wave swastikas’
Marion Isabeau-Ringuette was forced out of her job as a staffer for the Ontario provincial government after hackers revealed that she donated $100 to the Freedom Convoy protests earlier this month
Crew adds more fences to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday morning as a crackdown on the truckers seemed imminent
Parliament Hill was fortified on Thursday morning following three weeks of sustained blockades in Ottawa’s core
A demonstrator protests outside of Parliament Hill as crews fortify the government stronghold on Thursday
The GiveSendGo hack has already had an impact on Canadians who donated – a top political aide to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Marion Isabeau-Ringuette, was forced out of her job when a local news outlet QP Briefing outed her to his office for making a $100 donation.
Canada’s state-funded national broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, has gone through the list of 92,844 donors to contact and publicly out them.
It revealed that the former leader of the country’s Progressive Conservative Party Ches Crosbie made an $800 donation. He was unapologetic when confronted by CBC journalists, saying: ‘Indefinite states of emergency, such as we are under in most of Canada, are a dangerous thing, a very dangerous thing. I support the right of peaceful protest and I see the Freedom Convoy as a peaceful protest.’
The CBC also outed a prominent business owner in London, Ontario, as giving the largest single donation to the Freedom Convoy. Holden Rhodes, who owns Killarney Mountain Lodge, donated $25,000.
Another donor outed in the leak was Tammy Giuliani, owner of Stella Luna Gelato Cafe in Ottawa, who was forced to shut down her business after she received an onslaught of threats over her $250 donation.
On Wednesday, police in Ottawa handed out flyers warning truck drivers and others paralyzing the downtown core that they should leave or face arrest, but there was little sign of imminent action to move the nearly 400 vehicles out.
While the demonstrators protest against vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions, they also have made clear their opposition to Trudeau, and some have said they want to kick him out of office.
A portion of the protesters ‘have strong ties to a far-right extreme organization with leaders who are in Ottawa,’ Canada’s Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said, referring to the arrest of 13 people in Alberta earlier this week linked to a border blockade there that has since disbanded.
Protests continue outside Parliament Hill during early morning rain in Ottawa, Ontario before dawn on Thursday
Demonstrators stand in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa late on Wednesday during a weeks-long protest by truck drivers
GiveSendGo said that the cyberattack was ‘highly coordinated’ and aimed at the Freedom Convoy for their protest of Canada’s COVID-19 mandates
The movement features a blockade of the streets by truckers fed up with the mandates
They had guns and ammunition and police have charged four of them for conspiracy to commit murder. The local mayor said that they were not part of the blockade, which was about 1,000 feet away from the residence where the raid took place.
While the Ottawa protest has been loud and rowdy, it has been non-violent.
‘I’m not afraid,’ said a protester in Ottawa on Wednesday who declined to give his name. ‘We’re here peacefully and we will remain peacefully. Even if they attempt to arrest us, we will be arrested peacefully.’
Meanwhile, Trudeau generated a huge controversy in Parliament on Wednesday when he accused a Jewish MP of ‘standing with people who wave swastikas’ after she criticized his handling of the Freedom Convoy protests.
Melissa Lantsman, a 37-year-old Conservative MP for the Toronto suburb of Thornhill, confronted the prime minister in Parliament about the draconian Emergency Act, which he invoked on Monday for the first time in 50 years in a bid to end 19 days of chaos.
Trudeau responded with scorn to her complaints, saying: ‘Conservative Party members can stand with people who wave swastikas, they can stand with people who wave the confederate flag.
‘We will chose to stand with Canadians who deserve to be able to get to their jobs, and get their lives back. These illegal protests need to stop and they will.’
His comments sparked uproar in the house, and forced the Speaker of the House to reprimand Trudeau and others, reminding them of rules against using ‘inflammatory’ language in Parliament during the debates.
Melissa Lantsman is seen on Wednesday asking a question of Justin Trudeau in Parliament
After being reprimanded, Trudeau refused to apologize and again repeated that the blockades were illegal, and the measures to repress the protests were necessary.
Lantsman later tweeted: ‘I think the Prime Minister should think long and hard about his own history before singling out a Jewish Member of Parliament and falsely accusing me of standing with a Swastika.
‘What a disgraceful statement unbecoming of anyone in public office – he owes me an apology.’
On Monday Trudeau invoked emergency powers in order to end the protests. Justice Minister Lametti said the emergency legislation would be presented to the House of Commons on Thursday.
‘We are going to take back the entirety of the downtown core and every occupied space,’ Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell said in a statement on Thursday, adding that the action would be taken in ‘coming days’ and that it would ‘take time’ to do right.
The left-leaning New Democrats said they would support the minority Liberal government, ensuring the powers would pass.
Meanwhile on Thursday one of the protest organizers, Pat King, posted a video on Twitter warning police to stand down.
‘Back off. Stand down. Put your badge on the ground… and stand with the people,’ King said. ‘When this comes to an end, just following orders is not going to be a good legal defense.’
King told reporters in an impromptu press conference that his own bank account had been frozen.
‘Our concern first and foremost is for the safety and wellbeing of all our participants,’ he said. ‘Bank accounts, that’ll get fixed. It’s just money, we make new money every day.’
‘I’m ready. I am not afraid.’ Freedom Convoy leader breaks down saying she expects to be hauled off to jail TODAY – as she urges supporters to continue their fight and ‘to be kind and respect police’
By Greg Woodfield In Ottawa, Canada For DailyMail.Com
Freedom Convoy leader Tamara Lich has tearfully said she expects to be hauled off to jail Thursday – as truckers occupying downtown Ottawa await the looming police crackdown.
Lich, a former fitness instructor from Saskatchewan, cried openly in an emotional video Wednesday evening in which she accepted her fate and thanked fellow activists for their support.
‘There’s a pretty good chance – well I think it’s inevitable at this point – but, uh, I’ll probably be going somewhere tomorrow (Thursday) where I’ll be getting three square meals a day. And that’s OK,’ she said.
‘I’m OK with that. And I want you to know that I am not afraid.’ Putting her head in her hands, she added: ‘I’ll probably get some sleep finally.’
Lich, the president of Freedom Convoy 2022, has been a prominent but mysterious figure in Ottawa who typically refuses media interviews.
Her video appeared almost as a farewell message, while imploring other activists and the truckers to continue their battle.
Freedom Convoy 2022 president Tamara Lich shared an emotional video Thursday night admitting that she expects to be hauled off to jail on Thursday
Lich – seen speaking to police liaison officers last week – is a prominent fundraiser and organizer of the ongoing Ottawa protests and has demanded an end to all state-of-emergency declarations, vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions
She called on supporters to swamp Ottawa again this weekend, after the previous weekend turned into a massive rally and party attracting more than 4,000 people.
Lich, either crying openly or fighting back tears, even had kind words for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during her 13-minute video, posted on YouTube.
It was recorded after police handed out leaflets to truckers blockading Ottawa’s downtown saying they must leave the area immediately or face arrest.
This followed Trudeau’s invocation of the Emergencies Act, which hand him draconian new powers.
Lich began: ‘It’s been quite a day. Not really sure where to start.
‘I really wanted to get up on stage before everything happened here and send a message out but I think I can do it here and it’ll probably even reach more people.
‘This has been a crazy ride. Really crazy ride.
‘And I think in one of my first videos I said how proud I was of all of all.’ Breaking down she continued: ‘So proud of you.
‘You have come together in a way that I have never seen before.
‘I just wanted to come on again and say first of all thank you. Second of all to say, please that love in your heart. Don’t give in.’
In a tearful message, Lich urged truckers and Freedom Convoy supporters to continue their battle but reminded them to ‘be kind’ and ‘show respect’ for police
On Wednesday Ottawa cops began dishing out leaflets to truckers occupying the city’s downtown core demanding they leave immediately
And on Trudeau, she said: ‘I know there is a lot of anger at our government, but I want you to know that Justin Trudeau has three beautiful children.
‘So remember that.’ Looking down with tears in her eyes again, she added: ‘We don’t like what he does but I’m going to ask you to pray for him too.
Lich had kind words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and reminded supporters that he has ‘three beautiful children’
‘And I’m going to ask you, when you fly a F*** Trudeau sign that [you remember] he has three kids, just like me.’
Confronting her emotions, she said: ‘And so the tears that I cry aren’t tears of sadness. They are tears that what has happened and what is transpiring against my fellow Canadians breaks my heart.
‘It is breaking my heart.
‘You guys I just want you to stay strong. And I want you to continue to be unified and spread the love. I have to ask you, I have seen people.. I can’t tell you what to do. When you see the reporters in the streets, be kind and show them love…
‘Show respect to them. Show respect to our police officers. A lot of these men and women… are probably just trying to feed their families.’
Lich was philosophical at the end, saying: ‘So tomorrow is a new day. And I’m ready. I am not afraid. And we’re going to hold the line.’
Truck horns were blaring early in Ottawa Thursday as drivers braced themselves for police moving in to clear their rigs and possibly arrest them.
Canada’s CTV news station broadcast a video of what appears to be a police staging area in a parking lot near Ottawa airport.
The flyer read: ‘You must leave the area now. Anyone blocking the streets, or assisting others in blocking the streets, are committing a criminal offence and you may be arrested’
Some of the truckers handed the notices ripped them up while others handed them back to officers. One told a cop: ‘Take your garbage back’
Punishment for protesters may include a ban from entering the U.S., forfeiture of a commercial driver’s license, seizure of property and arrest
Ontario Provincial Police officers walk in front of the ongoing trucker blockade protest in Ottawa, Thursday
Ottawa’s interim police chief Steve Bell cranked up the pressure on the truckers by vowing: ‘We going to take back the entirety of the downtown core and every occupied space.
‘We are going to remove this unlawful protest. We will return our city to a state of normalcy.’
He added to a meeting of Ottawa City Council on Wednesday night: ‘Some of the techniques we are lawfully able and prepared to use are not what we are used to seeing in Ottawa.
Truck horns were blaring early in Ottawa Thursday as drivers braced themselves for police moving in to clear their rigs and possibly arrest them
Lich, seen during a news conference on February 3, previously stated that the convoy’s departure ‘will be based on the prime minister doing what is right’
‘But we are prepared to use them where necessary to bring about the safest outcome and restore order.’
On Thursday morning, there were visibly more cops on the streets than previous days in a sign that action could be imminent.
The previous day officers were seen dishing out leaflets to truckers occupying the city’s downtown core demanding they leave immediately.
The operation began around 10am local time around the crucial Parliament Buildings area of the blockade.
The flyer read: ‘You must leave the area now. Anyone blocking the streets, or assisting others in blocking the streets, are committing a criminal offence and you may be arrested.
‘You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you will face charges… The people of Ottawa are being denied the lawful use, enjoyment and operation of their property and you are causing businesses to close. That is mischief under the Criminal Code.’
Some of the truckers ripped the notices up while others handed them back to officers. One told a cop: ‘Take your garbage back.’