Saskatchewan

Sask. Premier says Emergencies Act should only be invoked in provinces that request it

"The illegal blockades must end, but police already have sufficient tools to enforce the law and clear the blockades, as they did over the weekend in Windsor," Moe said on Twitter.

Scott Moe says 'illegal blockades must end'

People hold Canadian flags in front of trucks parked in downtown Ottawa during ongoing demonstrations. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the Emergencies Act should only apply in the province that requests it. (Jean-Francois Poudrier/Radio-Canada)

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says if the federal government invokes the Emergencies Act, it should only do so in the province that requests it.

Moe posted his position on the issue on Twitter Monday afternoon.

"The illegal blockades must end, but police already have sufficient tools to enforce the law and clear the blockades, as they did over the weekend in Windsor," Moe wrote.

"Therefore, Saskatchewan does not support the Trudeau government invoking the Emergencies Act."

"If the federal government does proceed with this measure, I would hope it would only be invoked in provinces that request it, as the legislation allows," Moe wrote.

Moe and Canada's other premiers had a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday morning.

On Monday afternoon Trudeau announced he was invoking the never-before-used Emergencies Act to give the federal government extra powers to handle anti-vaccine mandate protests across the country.

"It is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement's ability to effectively enforce the law," Trudeau told a news conference Monday afternoon.

Trudeau said the measures will be geographically targeted and "reasonable and proportionate to the threats they are meant to address."

The Emergencies Act, which replaced the War Measures Act in the 1980s, defines a national emergency as a temporary "urgent and critical situation" that "seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it."

It gives special powers to the prime minister to respond to emergency scenarios affecting public welfare (natural disasters, disease outbreaks), public order (civil unrest), international emergencies or war emergencies.

The act grants cabinet the ability to "take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times" to cope with an "urgent and critical situation" and the resulting fallout. It is still subject to the protections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Ottawa police said "safety concerns" — including "aggressive, illegal behaviour" by demonstrators — are to blame for the "limited police enforcement capabilities."

A blockade of the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., a key supply link between Canada and the U.S., was dispersed by police earlier Sunday, with 12 arrests. 

On Monday, Alberta RCMP arrested 11 people after searching three trailers and finding weapons at a protest against pandemic restrictions near the main U.S. border crossing in southern Alberta.

Moe told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition on Monday that mandates across the country are divisive and that protesters deserve to be heard. However, he said that does not mean that people can flout the law.

"When that law is being broken, as we saw what happened on the bridge at Windsor yesterday, law enforcement officials do need to step in," he said.

Moe said acknowledged the work of Saskatchewan police officers in dealing with recent convoy protests.

"The RCMP, the Regina Police Service and others have done a remarkable job working with these convoy organizers to ensure that they are not in a position where they're breaking the law. What we're seeing in Ottawa is quite different."

On Saturday, a solidarity convoy made its way to the Regway border crossing at the Saskatchewan-Montana border. Vehicles did not block the crossing, parking in a nearby field. RCMP and Saskatchewan Highway Patrol controlled the flow of traffic.

On Feb. 4, the Saskatchewan Legislative Building restricted public access due to a "security risk." A convoy protest was set for the following day near the building.

Access to Legislature Drive has been restricted due to a winter festival, but the barricades were moved Monday, as the festival had concluded.

The first big change to pandemic health orders is gone now. Vaccine passports are no longer supported by the provincial government. By the end of the month, masks won't be either. Host Stefani Langenegger speaks with Premier Scott Moe.

with files from Catharine Tunney

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