Sunday, March 3, 2024

Perrin Beatty, sponsor of the Emergencies Act, never expected it to be used against nuisances

Perrin Beatty, the former cabinet minister who shepherded Canada’s Emergencies Act through Parliament. Photo: Canadian Chamber of Commerce

by Donna Laframboise

Perrin Beatty, the former cabinet minister who shepherded the Emergencies Act through Canada’s Parliament in 1988 has given an interview to La Presse, a French-language, Montreal-based newspaper. (Read an auto translation of it here.)

Beatty, who’s currently president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, is clearly appalled that the government used this legislation against the truckers last year. It was intended, he says, for highly exceptional circumstances – for example a devastating earthquake in British Columbia:

“We were very clear that there had to be a real emergency and the definition of that emergency was deliberately drafted to include a very high threshold.”

Click here for Google translation

Beatty says he never expected the Emergencies Act to be deployed in the absence of a true emergency, as a means of dealing with nuisances, or at a point in time in which matters were already de-escalating.

“It was designed to provide the government with a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer,” he says. He, too, is urging the government to release the secret legal opinion on which it relied to make its decision.

After all “Trust us” is hardly a persuasive argument. In recent days Mario Dion, the federal ethics commissioner, has urged the government to make ethics training mandatory for cabinet members due to ongoing ethical lapses at the highest levels. Pointing out that these lapses undermine public confidence, Dion didn’t hide his exasperation:

“No one’s resigning, no one’s forced to resign and no one is shuffled. And there’s no appearance of even any sort of accountability, beyond…a quick mea culpa. [bold added]”

Canada’s current federal government is broken. The Ethics Commissioner knows this. The man who sponsored the Emergencies Act back in 1988 knows this.

Later today, we’ll learn whether Justice Paul Rouleau, the Commissioner of the Emergencies Act inquiry, also knows it.

Rouleau’s findings will reportedly be tabled in the House of Commons at noon today.


Donna Laframboise writes a daily blog at It is a first draft of her upcoming book that focuses on interviews with Freedom Convoy truckers. She is a former National Post and Toronto Star columnist, and a former Vice President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.