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The Canadian House of Commons on Monday night voted 185 to 151 in favor of extending the emergency powers that police can invoke to quell any potential new blockades from protesters opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier that the powers were still needed, even though police cleared truckers from Ottawa over the weekend and managed to end their blockades along the U.S.-Canada border.
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Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said the protesters were going for the “lifeblood of this nation, which is trade with the United States.”
Trudeau noted there were some truckers just outside Ottawa who might be planning further blockades or occupations. His public safety minister said there was an attempt to block a border crossing in British Columbia over the weekend.
Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the opposing New Democratic Party (NDP), supported the Emergencies Act, ensuring Trudeau had enough votes. Singh said they know there are protesters waiting in the surrounding areas of Ottawa and in the capital itself.
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“They need to be cleared out,” said Singh, who also noted there have been convoys that have been intercepted.
“This is an attack on our democracy. This is a group of folks who are very clearly connected to the extreme right wing, The organizers clearly have a goal in mind to undermine democracy. That’s something we can’t allow to continue,” said Singh.
Several Canadian civil liberties groups have spoken out against Trudeau after he invoked the Emergencies Act to cut off funding for “Freedom Convoy” truckers, freeze their bank accounts and crack down on the lingering demonstrations in Ottawa. The trucker protest has been largely cleared from the Canadian capital, but Trudeau has not yet relaxed the state of emergency.
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The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said the truckers’ protests did not meet the standard for Trudeau to have invoked the Emergencies Act, which exists for “the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada” and only for actions that “cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.