Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday defended invoking the Emergencies Act to end a blockade in the capital Ottawa and other areas in connection with trucker-led protests against COVID-19 related health regulations.  

Speaking at the House of Commons — the lower chamber of the bicameral Parliament of Canada — Trudeau said the imposition of emergency regulations was the government’s “last resort” as he noted it was done to “protect families and small businesses, protect jobs and the economy”. 

“We did it because the situation could not be dealt with under any other law in Canada,” said the prime minister.

The Emergencies Act is also designed to prevent a recurrence of a blockade at the Ambassador Bridge, the main trade route between Canada and the US.

Canadian prime minister said the act was invoked “for the good of all Canadians, the illegal blockades and occupations have to stop and the borders have to remain open”.

Assuring that the act is “time-limited and targeted” to specific areas like the Ottawa blockade, Trudeau said it “strengthens and supports law enforcement agencies”.

He further assured that his government is “not using the emergencies to call in the military”.

“We are not limiting people’s freedom of expression. We are not limiting freedom of peaceful assembly. We are not preventing people from exercising their right to protest legally,” he said.

The act has never been invoked so far. But an earlier version known as War Measures Act was invoked in 1970 by the late Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau incidentally Justin Trudeau’s father.

The law was used to deal with a Quebec-based separatist organization that had kidnapped the British Trade Commissioner and Quebec minister Pierre Laporte, who was later found dead.

The War Measures Act was replaced in 1988 by the Emergencies Act and had not been invoked since then.

Blockades by truckers and others who demanded the repeal of all government COVID-19 health measures had disrupted movements at border points in several provinces, including Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba.

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