Is it Time to Invoke the Federal Emergencies Act?

Is it Time to Invoke the Federal Emergencies Act?

Postby Oscar » Mon Mar 30, 2020 11:59 am

Is it Time to Invoke the Federal Emergencies Act?

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Greens’ Elizabeth May says yes as civil liberties advocates warn against sweeping police powers at provincial level.

Christopher Guly March 27, 2020 |

Elizabeth May, the Green party parliamentary leader in the House of Commons: ‘It’s not the War Measures Act of old. It doesn’t suspend civil liberties. It does allow for emergency payments and for taking steps to making sure that provisions are available, that priorities are co-ordinated.’ Photo by Cole Burston.

The Liberals should have moved to invoke the Emergencies Act by now in order to better respond to the coronavirus emergency, the Green party House parliamentary leader Elizabeth May told The Tyee.

But a leading civil liberties advocate and lawyer said it’s at the provincial level that emergency powers, decided and wielded, have the greatest effect on people, including how police can act. Michael Bryant, executive director of and general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, cautioned that granting sweeping powers to law enforcement can lead to injustices against those most “marginalized,” including those homeless or imprisoned.

Bryant also accused the federal government of being too secret about the measures it is considering and implementing. . . . .

‘It could be a fossil-fuel bailout act’

May argues that Part 8 of Bill C-13, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, which amended the Financial Administration Act, allows Finance Minister Bill Morneau between now and Sept. 30 to “write big cheques to big oil and big banks for up to six months and not have to tie it back to [what] we have to do it because of COVID-19 and because we’re in an emergency.”

May, a lawyer by training, pointed out that one of the provisions in Part 8 empowers Morneau to make a payment “after consultation with a province or territory, to an entity — for the purposes of responding to a situation of significant and systemic economic and financial distress.”

“It could be the fossil-fuel bailout act,” she said. “There is nothing that says the movements the finance minister makes have to have any relationship to COVID-19.”

“I much prefer the Emergencies Act because it limits what the government can do to those things that they believe on reasonable grounds are necessary for dealing with the emergency,” said May, the MP for the B.C. riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands. Alex Wellstead, a press secretary to the prime minister, told The Tyee that “no options are off the table and he has discussed the Emergencies Act with premiers and cabinet.” . . . . "
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