Canada ends state of emergency imposed on anti-vaccination acts

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday (23) that he will end the state of emergency imposed to contain protests by truck drivers against mandatory vaccinations in the country.

“After careful analysis, we are ready to confirm that the situation is no longer an emergency. Therefore, the federal government will end the use of the Emergencies Act,” the prime minister told a news conference.

Trudeau also called the adoption of the law a “tipping point” and “necessary and responsible thing to do” to end the acts, which had paralyzed the capital Ottawa for three weeks.

Shortly after the premier’s announcement, Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford also revoked the state of emergency in the province, which had been imposed before the exception at the federal level.

The law was imposed on the 14th, when protests paralyzed downtown Ottawa, and days after blockades at important points of commerce and transport on the Canadian-US border.

Once in place, the legislation empowered the national executive to suspend civil liberties to maintain order, such as preventing public meetings, restricting the movement of people and blocking bank accounts.

According to federal financial officials, accounts of organizers and participants in the lockdowns have already begun to be unfrozen.

Before the current period, Canada experienced exceptional moments only in the two great wars and, in times of peace, in the so-called October Crisis, when in 1970 the separatist group Front for the Liberation of Québec kidnapped a British diplomat. Interestingly, the prime minister at the time was Pierre Trudeau, father of the current prime minister.

On the 18th, at least 170 protesters who refused to disperse the protest were arrested in Ottawa, during the duration of the Emergencies Act, and the blockade in the Canadian capital was ended.

Some of those arrested were wearing bulletproof vests and had grenades and other fireworks in their bags and vehicles, according to local police at the time.

The previous Wednesday (16), the police had already distributed pamphlets warning that truck drivers should leave the city center or they would be arrested, but the initiative had no effect.

The acts, called “freedom trains” by the participants, were attended by 15,000 people, but soon dropped to a few hundred vehicles. Initially against mandatory vaccination, the protests ended up as a focus of dissatisfaction against Trudeau and became one of the biggest crises experienced by the prime minister.

The movement’s self-appointed leaders, some with military backgrounds and in right-wing organizations, orchestrated a disciplined and highly coordinated occupation, according to a report in The New York Times.

The fear of political radicalization also grew with the participation of representatives of far-right movements, such as the American Proud Boys (considered terrorists in Canada) and the conspiracyists of QAnon.

The first and main measure used by the Canadian government to contain the protests, after the imposition of the Emergencies Act, was the attempt to block money from the organized protest.

Funded mostly by crowdfunding platforms, the protests received more than 55% of donations from the United States. Some of the donors listed in leaked information and analyzed by the public network CBC were donors to the presidential campaigns of former President Donald Trump, supported by extremist groups.

In these three weeks, Canada has come under pressure from the US government of Joe Biden to use federal powers and put an end to demonstrations inspired by the one in Ottawa that impeded the traffic of people and goods at points on the border with the United States.

Through the main one, the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Canadian Windsor to American Detroit, 10,000 commercial vehicles pass every day carrying 25% of all trade between the two countries. There, too, the police acted to clear the flow of vehicles, arresting at least 25 people.

10,000 commercial vehicles pass through this point on the border daily, with 25% of all trade between the two countries. On Friday (11), an injunction prevented the roadblock from being blocked, and police arrested at least 25 people during the clearing operation.

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