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Emergencies Act ruling reopens emotional debate two years after huge protests

OTTAWA — A judge’s ruling that the federal Liberals were unjustified in using emergency law to quell a weeks-long protest in Ottawa has left the administrator of a downtown church feeling the court disregarded infringements of her rights.

In a decision released Tuesday, Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley said the government’s use of the Emergencies Act in February 2022 was unreasonable and led to violation of the constitutional right of free expression.

Vivian Leir, the long-time administrator of a Presbyterian church near Parliament Hill, says she was dismayed by the ruling after what she experienced during the three-week protest in downtown Ottawa.

The protest, initially seen as a demonstration against COVID-19 health restrictions, attracted people with a variety of grievances against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government.

Blaring truck horns, diesel fumes and makeshift encampments prompted many businesses to temporarily close their doors and aggravated downtown residents.  

Leir says the court ruling has done nothing to change her belief that the government was justified in invoking the emergency powers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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