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Civil Liberties Association, Front Line Nurses presented arguments on Day #1 of Emergencies Act court proceedings; Constitution Foundation presents today

“This begs the question: if a case like this can’t go ahead, when can any case go ahead?”

Justice Richard Mosely, April 3rd, 2023
Christine Van Geyn of the Canadian Constitution Foundation presents an comprehensive one-hour summary of a full day of court proceedings.

Canada’s Frontline Nurses (CNA) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) presented on the April 3, the first day of their lawsuit which charges Canada’s federal government invoked Emergencies Act improperly during the Truckers’ Convoy last year.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation will begin presenting its case at 9:30 April 4th.

The first two hours of the April 3rd proceedings were spent listening to Canada’s Attorney General’s office argue that this case should not be heard, claiming it is “moot” because the Emergencies Act is not in use anywhere at present.

The idea that a case which took a full year to get to court could have been conducted simultaneously with the protest as it took place seemed so nonsensical Justice Richard Mosely had to ask numerous questions for clarification before he noted, “This begs the question: if a case like this can’t go ahead, when can any case go ahead?”

Eva Chipiuk, who served as part of the legal team representing the Convoy during the Public Order Emergency Commission, tweeted: “First thoughts regarding the Crown’s preliminary motions is they are desperate not to have this application heard. In my view, that is a bit embarrassing…. the Crown represents Canadians not the Liberal party. They are working way too hard not to have this application heard.”

“Second thoughts,” Chipiuk continued, “the Crown is really focusing on the applicants and their actions, but that is not what the applications are about. The court is being asked to consider the governments actions and whether or not the decision to invoke the EA was justified. The onus on the government for invoking the EA is and should be high. They suspended the rights of Canadians at their whim, ie with no checks and balances. This court case is the check and balance of whether the governments actions were justified. Overall, the Crown’s argument in my opinion is very weak.”

Christine Van Geyn, Litigation Director for the Canadian Constitution Foundation, said “The Trudeau government’s use of this extraordinary law may be the most severe example of overreach and violations of civil liberties that was seen during the pandemic. The use of this powerful law was unauthorized because the legal threshold to use the law was not met. The Emergencies Act contains a last resort clause: it can only be used when there is a national emergency and there are no other laws at the federal, provincial and/or municipal levels which can address the situation. Parliament cannot use the Emergencies Act as a tool of convenience, as it did in this case.”

“Canada’s past teaches us that emergency powers should never be used except as a last resort, and indeed, being a power of last resort is built into the language and threshold of the Act. Review through the courts is now the last remaining guardrail of accountability,” concluded Van Geyn.

To register in order to view the online court proceedings, click on the button above, scroll down to “CCF vs. Attorney General of Canada” and click on the icon that looks like a pencil.