Andrew Coyne considers use of Emergencies Act during Freedom Convoy ‘least bad option’

Paul Wells and Andrew Coyne facing the audience. Coyne smiling and holding a glass of water. Microphones in front of them. About to speak for The Paul Wells Show interview podcast.
Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne makes an appearance on The Paul Wells Show podcast on Jan. 29. (Christian Zdravko/Toronto Observer) 

Canadian columnist Andrew Coyne believes that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act during the Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa was “the least bad option.”

Coyne spoke with Canadian journalist Paul Wells on Jan. 29 for his podcast series, The Paul Wells Show, taking place at U of T’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy.

“I think it was the least bad option that was left of them,” Coyne said in an interview after the podcast taping. “It’s certainly nothing like what its critics have made it out to be, as if it was martial law or something.”

The 2022 Freedom Convoy was a protest to fight against mandates and restrictions set by the government to combat COIVID-19. It began with Canadian and American truckers protesting the mandates, which rallied Canadians, forming a group of over ten thousand throughout its journey from B.C. to Ottawa. The protests in Ottawa led to roads being closed off and stores losing business.

Constant honking for hours at a time caused stress for many Ottawans. Blocked roads, non-stop honking, illegal fires in the streets and other acts of disruption prompted Trudeau to implement the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14, 2022. As a result, authorities could commandeer tow trucks vehicles, arrest protesters and freeze their bank accounts.

The Canadian government created the Emergencies Act in 1988. The law grants the government with greater powers in cases of national emergencies. The Freedom Convoy was the only time the government used this law.

Coyne, a columnist with the Globe and Mail, believes that the harshness of the federal government’s response has been blown out of proportion by some Canadians.

“People who try to paint this as some draconian thing, are forgetting how dire the situation was, and how mild, comparatively the remedy was, certainly compared to what you’d find in any other country faced with a similar situation,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Federal Court deemed the use of the Emergencies Act during the Freedom Convoy “not justified.” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has doubled down on the government’s decision; the federal government has indicated it will appeal the ruling.

Wells had his own opinions on the topic.

In an interview, he said believes invoking the act was unnecessary.

“I didn’t think it was needed, and I didn’t think it should have been used if it wasn’t needed,” he said.

He said Canada must exercise caution when using such laws.

“I don’t want Canada to be in the business of passing emergency powers recklessly or too easily.”

During the interview, the two journalists discussed other topics, including the state of journalism, Canadian politics and the economy.

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Posted: Feb 15 2024 11:04 am
Filed under: News

About the Author

Christian Zdravko
The Big Chris here. I love music, shows, movies, video games, and learning about the world around me.