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OPINION: Trudeau and Russia have a lot in common when it comes to respecting democratic rights

Thankfully, for those believing in individual liberty, the Federal Court has now ruled the use of the Emergencies Act was unreasonable, unjustified and a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Chris Nelson
Chris Nelson

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with his loyal deputy, Chrystia Freeland, would fit right in amongst the various bullies that make up Russia’s parliament.

For example, the State Duma in Moscow recently allowed the confiscation of property and valuables from anyone speaking out against the war in Ukraine or having the slightest contact with any organization arbitrarily deemed a national threat. 

Sadly, it’s unlikely Russia’s higher courts would dare censure such legislative overreach, which is why we’re fortunate to live in a country where the rule of law still stands: at least for now.

But let’s go back a couple of years, to those stressful Covid times, when many were increasingly fed up with the endlessly changing strictures imposed by various levels of government. 

In response, the Freedom Convoy of truckers set off towards Ottawa to make their collective displeasure felt, as their livelihoods were jeopardized by restrictions involving cross-border travel. 

As with many grassroots protest movements, there was little consideration of an end game: What happens after we get there? Do we hang around or drive back? What if Trudeau won’t even meet with us?

It felt good so they did it and lots of Canadians cheered heartily.

As we know this eventually resulted in chaos and frustration for the good people of Ottawa. But these things happen in democratic countries and it’s up to the police to bring order back to the streets.

But Trudeau wasn’t about to let that run its course. Oh no. He’d invoke the Emergencies Act to sort out these rabble-rousers, though the idea of meeting them face-to-face never crossed his mind.

To pile on pressure, his government ordered the obsequious banks to freeze the accounts of ordinary Canadians who’d donated to a GoFundMe account supporting the convoy. (How the Russian Duma would applaud that measure.)

Speaking of Russians: it was them Trudeau (and his state-broadcasting ally, the CBC) accused of bankrolling this protest movement. Along with the Chinese and – heaven help us – organized crime. This formed the foundation for introducing the Emergencies Act itself - shady outsiders trying to undermine his government using truckers as pawns.

Well, having met a few truckers, they’ve never appeared pawn-like to me: Quite the opposite, in fact.

Of course, this foreign interference blather was pure baloney. We finally discovered this a year or so later, during the public inquiry into the whole affair, when GoFundMe general counsel Kim Wilford testified. 

She said almost 90 per cent of money pledged came from Canadians and of the entire 133,000 people who donated only 18,000 lived beyond our borders — 14,000 of them in the U.S. and the rest, a mere 4,000, spread over 80 other countries, with less than a handful from Russia and seemingly none from China. 

Oh, and organized criminals were noticeable by their absence. (Why some modern-day Al Capone would have donated is indeed a question to boggle any mind.)

Thankfully, for those believing in individual liberty, the Federal Court has now ruled the use of the Emergencies Act was unreasonable, unjustified and a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Justice Richard Mosley also noted, in regards to the bank account freezing: “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.”

(It’s doubtful the Russian bar will be inviting Justice Mosley to be a guest lecturer anytime soon.)

Oh, as for our federal government: Is it embarrassed? Of course not. Deputy PM Freeland said it’s appealing. Maybe she can find a court in Moscow to hear the case.

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