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Trudeau to Invoke the Emergencies Act Which Grants Special Powers to Deal with Protests

(by CBC News) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has told his caucus he will invoke the never-before-used Emergencies Act to give the federal government extra powers to handle the protests across the country, according to sources.

Those sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly, said the prime minister will inform the premiers of his decision later today.

In a meeting with the Liberal caucus on Monday morning, Trudeau said there were no plans to deploy the military, according to the sources.

The Emergencies Act, which replaced the War Measures Act in the 1980s, defines a national emergency as a temporary “urgent and critical situation” that “seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it.”

The act grants cabinet the ability to “take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times” to cope with an emergency and the resulting fallout during an “urgent and critical situation.”

It also gives powers to the prime minister to respond to four different types of emergency scenarios: public welfare (natural disasters, disease), public order (civil unrest), international emergencies and war emergencies.

The move follows a meeting Sunday of the federal cabinet and its Incident Response Group (IRG). Trudeau tweeted late Sunday that the IRG discussed “further actions the government can take to help end the blockades and occupations.”

Earlier that day, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair described the attitude around invoking the Emergencies Act as “appropriate caution” rather than “reticence.”

Blair emphasized on CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live it was important to make sure that “the appropriate authorities that are with the provinces are fully utilized,” and he said the federal government was “prepared to do everything necessary.”

The War Measures Act was most famously used by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau during the October Crisis.

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