‘Freedom Convoy’ ruling disappoints federal Liberal government

Feb 1, 2024 | Canadian News, News

Ottawa bled red and white during the Freedom Convoy Protest of 2022, while protestors occupied the streets of downtown Ottawa.

The protestors were loud in advocating for their right to choose whether or not they received the COVID-19 vaccine. The protest was shut down on Feb. 14, 2022, by the federal government under the Emergencies Act.

Avery German, a Humber Public Relations graduate, said the protest was about much more than vaccine regulations.

“I don’t personally understand why they were protesting. It began as a call to end the lockdown, but continued long past when restaurants and other businesses were allowed to open back up again,” she said.

“It then turned into a call to end vaccine requirements but also continued past these. It became very clear there was no goal that could be accomplished that would inspire them to leave,” German said.

It was the first time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used the Emergencies Act. Ottawa said the act gives the federal government control over a situation or event when it endangers Canadians, and can’t be stopped or dealt with in any other way.

Justice Richard G. Mosley of the federal court ruled on Jan. 23 that the use of the Emergencies Act to forcefully shut down the Freedom Convoy was unlawful and violated protestors’ Charter Rights and Freedoms.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Jan. 23 that the ruling made by Justice Mosley would be appealed.

“We respect very much Canada’s independent Judiciary, however, we do not agree with this decision and respectfully we will be appealing it,” she said.

Ryan Chandler, an electrician living in Ottawa, said he supported the protest because he supported people’s right to work, even without the vaccine.

“There was nothing that was not peaceful, there was no malicious intent, people just wanted to work,” he said. “Truckers, who work alone, were told they would lose their jobs if they didn’t get the vaccine. That didn’t seem right to me.”

In an assessment done by Trucking HR Canada in 2021, it was reported that “Canada’s trucking and logistics sector [was] expected to experience a significant contraction in employment because of COVID-19.”

Ontario said truckers were not able to cross the U.S.-Canada border without proper vaccination. They then had to be isolated for two weeks, even if working alone.

Justice Mosley’s ruling included the use of the Emergencies Act to freeze individual accounts that were in support of the Freedom Convoy.

“Between Feb. 15 and Feb. 23, 2022, the RCMP disclosed information from the OPP, OPS and its own investigations on approximately 57 named entities and individuals to financial service providers, resulting in the temporary freezing of about 257 accounts under the Economic Order,” Mosley said.

“Someone who had nothing to do with the protests could find themselves without the means to access necessaries for household and other family purposes while the accounts were suspended,” he ruled.

“There appears to have been no effort made to find a solution to that problem while the measures were in effect,” Mosley ruled.

He concluded the use of the Emergencies Act did not meet the act’s requirements for transparency, justification, and reasonableness.

The Freedom Convoy was a protest that drew not only a large crowd and funding but also people’s attention from all over the world. The protest was voted The Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year award in 2022.

German said the protest disturbed her daily life in Ottawa to a great extent.

“I saw firsthand how it affected individuals and businesses in downtown Ottawa, and it was wrong to let it continue that long,” she said in an email.

“I think if the government had been forced to experience the real effects that I saw as someone living and working downtown – for example young employees being screamed at when they were just following the rules, people unable to sleep because of the honking, and protestors calling anyone who didn’t agree with them ‘Nazis’ – they would have moved much faster than they did,” German said.