Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he's invoking the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canada's history to give the federal government temporary powers to handle ongoing blockades and protests against pandemic restrictions.
"It is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement's ability to effectively enforce the law," Trudeau told a news conference Monday afternoon.
"It is no longer a lawful protest at a disagreement over government policy. It is now an illegal occupation. It's time for people to go home."
Trudeau said the measures will be geographically targeted and "reasonable and proportionate to the threats they are meant to address."
The unprecedented deployment of the Emergencies Act gives police more tools to restore order in places where public assemblies constitute illegal and dangerous activities, such as blockades and occupations, he said. Trudeau said the act also will enable the RCMP to enforce municipal bylaws and provincial offences where required.
"This is about keeping Canadians safe, protecting people's jobs and restoring confidence in our institutions," he said.
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