NCCM Calls for Accountability After Emergencies Act Vote
(Ottawa – February 22, 2022)
As authorities continue to move in on the anti-mandate convoy that has occupied downtown Ottawa for weeks, NCCM is calling for accountability and transparency through two key recommendations. It is time to reflect on the unprecedented invocation of the Emergencies Act (1998) that has empowered police forces to disband convoy protests and blockades.
Yesterday, the House of Commons passed a vote on the Emergencies Act. The Act enables various powers in response to the convoy protests and blockades, including giving the RCMP broader enforcement abilities across Canada and allowing financial institutions to freeze funds meant to support the convoys.
It is now important to take a step back and assess this unprecedented move by Ottawa, so as to mitigate any possible risks and unintended consequences the Act’s invocation might have on Canadian civil society. Safeguards must be put in place to ensure that our democracy is not damaged by this latest and unprecedented episode in Canadian history.
To that effect, NCCM was grateful that our call for oversight in the form of a parliamentary committee is being heard. However, we need a deep, independent study into every factor and episode that led to the Emergencies Act being invoked, as soon as possible.
NCCM is therefore calling for the following two recommendations:
- Conduct an Independent Study:
A deep study and reflection—that Canadians can trust to be independent and accountable—must be conducted into everything that transpired in the last month. Did white supremacy play a role in organizing the convoy? Did foreign actors conspire to fund the protests? Was the government’s invocation of emergency powers proportionate and necessary? How is financial data being collected, used, and stored? How did our national security agencies, yet again, fail Canadians? These are critical questions that must be answered in such a study, and which fall outside of the purview of the mandatory legislative review enshrined in the Act.
- Hold a National Policy Discussion on Protests:
The right to protest and express collective dissent must be preserved. As recently suggested by a number of experts, we need government to work with civil society on exploring and framing what these emergency powers mean for the future of protests in Canada, and to reinforce our Charter rights.
“Canadian Muslims are all too familiar with having community organizations, funds, and initiatives be perceived with suspicion by the security establishment,” said Mustafa Farooq, CEO of NCCM. “Many of us have questions that must be answered through a process that is transparent and not driven by partisan interests.”