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Emergencies Act: Ottawa convoy group asks court to stop use

OTTAWA — A group involved in the anti-government protest against COVID-19 measures in Ottawa is asking a court to curb the federal use of the Emergencies Act to suppress protesters.

In briefs filed Friday in Federal Court, Canadian Frontline Nurses and its member Kristen Nagle are seeking an injunction suspending the Liberal government’s use of the Emergencies Act and related measures while their case unfolds in court.

The group and Nagle say they oppose the “unreasonable” mandates and restrictions related to COVID-19 that have been implemented by various levels of Canadian governments.

They want a statement from the court that the federal government exceeded its jurisdiction by declaring a public order emergency earlier this week, saying the move was unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs are also seeking all orders in council, minutes of meetings, cabinet submissions, memoranda, agreements and governing documents relating to the declaration of a public order emergency.

As of Friday evening, no date had been set to hear the motion for an injunction. Federal officials had yet to file a response to the court’s request.

Canadian Frontline Nurses, which markets itself as a “proud defender of medical freedom,” should not be confused with the Canadian Nurses Association, which advocates mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers .

The court filing came as police made dozens of arrests and towed scores of vehicles through downtown Ottawa in a bid to put down what police are calling an illegal protest.

Protesters, many with large trucks, occupied the streets of central Ottawa for three weeks, prompting many businesses to close and annoying residents with noise, diesel fumes and harassing behavior.

Police said they took action to end the occupation using the tools and powers made available by the federal invocation of the Emergencies Act.

The law authorizes temporary measures, including regulating and banning public gatherings, designating safe places, instructing banks to freeze assets and banning support for participants.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association also said this week that they would go to court to challenge the government’s use of the Emergencies Act.

In court briefs, Canadian Frontline Nurses and Nagle, a registered nurse and leader of the group, say they support the Ottawa protest as peaceful participants and supporters.

“CFN and Nagle denounce violence and do not view violence as a legitimate means of expression or a means to achieve its political goals.”

They argue that there is no public order emergency as defined in the Emergencies Act and that provincial and federal authorities had the capacity to deal with any threat to health, public safety or security through existing laws.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 18, 2022.

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