Report to the Houses of Parliament: Emergencies Act Consultations

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February 16, 2022

Background and the Requirement to Consult

On February 14, 2022, the Governor in Council declared a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act. Section 25 of the Act requires the Governor in Council to consult the Lieutenant Governor in Council of each province with respect to a proposal to declare a public order emergency. A report of these consultations must be laid before each House of Parliament within seven sitting days after the declaration is issued, in accordance with section 58 of the Act.


Since the crisis began in late January, federal ministers and officials have continuously engaged provinces and territories, municipalities, and law enforcement agencies to assess the situation and to offer the support and assistance of the Government of Canada. Staff in the Prime Minister's Office and in various Minister's offices had ongoing communications with Premiers' offices and related ministers' offices throughout this period. Examples of engagement with provincial, municipal, and international partners include the following:

Federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) officials have also met on a multilateral and bilateral basis, including the following:

The Government of Canada also engaged Indigenous leaders regarding the blockades. For example, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations spoke with the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, the President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the President of the Métis National Council, the Grand Chief of Akwesasne, and the Grand Chief of the Manitoba Southern Chief's Organization.

The decisions on next steps and to consult premiers on the Emergencies Act was informed by all of the federal ministerial and senior official engagement with provinces since the onset of the crisis.

Consultations on the Emergencies Act with First Ministers

The Prime Minister convened a First Ministers' Meeting on February 14, 2022, to consult premiers on whether to declare a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act. The Prime Minister was joined by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Minister of Public Safety. All premiers participated.

The Prime Minister explained why the declaration of a public order emergency might be necessary and formally consulted premiers. The Minister of Justice outlined potential measures the Government of Canada was contemplating to take under the Emergencies Act to supplement the measures in the provinces' jurisdiction and respond to the urgent and unprecedented situation. The Prime Minister asked what measures could be supplemented through the Emergencies Act by using proportional, time-limited authorities.

Each premier was given the opportunity to provide his/her perspectives on the current situation – both nationally and in their own jurisdiction – and whether a declaration of public order emergency should be issued. A variety of views and perspectives were shared at the meeting. Some premiers indicated support for the proposed measures as necessary to resolve the current situation, noting they would be focused on targeted areas, time-limited, and would be subject to ongoing engagement. Other premiers did not feel the Emergencies Act was needed at this time, arguing that provincial and municipal governments have sufficient authority to address the situation in their respective jurisdictions. Some premiers expressed caution that invoking the Emergencies Act could escalate the situation.

While the views expressed at the First Ministers' Meeting were shared in confidence, premiers provided their perspectives in public statements following the First Ministers' Meeting.

During the First Ministers' Meeting, the Prime Minister emphasized that a final decision had not yet been made, and that the discussion amongst First Ministers would inform the Government of Canada's decision.

There was further engagement with provinces following the First Ministers' Meeting and prior to the Government of Canada's decision to declare a public order emergency on February 14, 2022:

The Prime Minister considered all of the comments shared at the First Ministers' Meeting, as well as the many other sources of information and intelligence. He announced his intention to invoke the Emergencies Act with targeted, time-limited measures that would complement provincial and municipal authorities late in the day on February 14, 2022.

On February 15, 2022 the Prime Minister wrote to all premiers, outlining the reasons why the Government of Canada decided to declare a public order emergency and described the types of measures that would be available under the Act. The letter responded to issues raised during the discussion, particularly on whether the declaration of a public order emergency should apply nationally. For example, the letter emphasized that the measures would be applied to targeted areas; that measures would supplement, rather than replace, provincial and municipal authorities; that these are tools that could be employed by police of local jurisdiction, at their discretion; and that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would be engaged only when requested by local authorities. The letter also emphasized the Government of Canada's strong interest in further engagement and collaboration with provinces and territories on these issues.

Next Steps

Consistent with the Emergencies Act's requirements, the Government of Canada is committed to ongoing consultation and collaboration with the provinces and territories to ensure that the federal response complements the efforts of their governments. Ongoing consultation will also be necessary should there be a need to modify or extend existing orders under the Emergencies Act.

Supported by their officials, Ministers engaged with their counterparts following the First Ministers' Meeting, and will continue to engage provinces and territories on an ongoing basis. They will be available to quickly respond to specific issues or situations, as they arise. More recent engagement includes:

The Government of Canada will continue to gather and assess feedback through these ongoing engagements to assess the orders and regulations under the Emergencies Act and to ensure a coordinated and effective response on behalf of Canadians.

Annex: Letter from the Prime Minister to premiers

Dear Premier:

I would like to thank you for the productive conversation we had at the First Ministers' Meeting on February 14, 2022, where we consulted you on the declaration of a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act.

I recognize many Canadians, including myself, are frustrated with the pandemic, and with having our lives disrupted for two years. However, while some protestors have participated to demonstrate their fatigue and frustration with public health measures, this is no longer the motivation of many of the participants and organizers. We are seeing activity that is a threat to our democracy and that is undermining the public's trust in our institutions.

The Government of Canada believes firmly in the right to peaceful protest. But as we discussed, the activities taking place across the country have gone well beyond peaceful protest. These are organized events, and the situation is very volatile. While this may have started in Ottawa, we are seeing flare-ups in almost every jurisdiction.

We are facing significant economic disruptions, with the breakdown of supply chains. This is costing Canadians their jobs and undermining our economic and national security, with potentially significant impacts on the health and safety of Canadians. It is affecting Canada's reputation internationally, hurting trade and commerce, and undermining confidence and trust in our institutions.

Given that this situation is escalating, we each have to look at all possible measures to resolve the current challenges as quickly as possible. We believe that we have reached the point where there is a national emergency arising from threats to Canada's security. That is why the Government of Canada has determined it is necessary to take action to protect Canadians and safeguard our economy by declaring a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act.

The declaration of a public order emergency serves as authority for Canada to enact measures under paragraph 19(1) of the Emergencies Act. During our call, Minister Lametti highlighted six types of temporary, time-limited measures that could be adopted under the Emergencies Act:

  1. Regulation and prohibition of public assemblies that lead to a breach of the peace other than lawful advocacy, protest, or dissent

    What we are seeing in Ottawa and at the Ambassador Bridge are not lawful protests. Examples of measures could include: prohibiting minors from participating in an unlawful activity; prohibiting foreign nationals from entering Canada to participate in an illegal gathering; removing foreign nationals from Canada when appropriate; and adding to the list of offences that qualify as inadmissible criteria for entry into Canada.

  2. Designating and securing places where blockades are to be prohibited

    This could include geographically limited application at borders, approaches to borders, other critical infrastructure, or the City of Ottawa.

  3. Directing persons to render essential services to relieve impacts of blockades on Canada's economy

    This could include tow trucks and their drivers, for compensation.

  4. Authorizing or directing financial institutions to render essential services to relieve impact of blockades

    This could include regulating and prohibiting the use of property to fund or support the blockades.

  5. Measures enabling the RCMP to enforce municipal by laws and provincial offences where required, and if asked by local authorities

    All measures enacted pursuant to the Emergencies Act would be enforceable by municipal and provincial police services; the RCMP can contribute if asked to do so.

  6. The imposition of fines or imprisonment for contravention of any order or regulation made under section 19 of the Emergencies Act

Our Government recognizes the importance of coordinating with provinces, territories, and municipalities to ensure the safety and security of Canadians. Targeted, time-limited, and proportional measures under the Emergencies Act would provide further support to police within your jurisdiction. This is not about displacing provincial or territorial jurisdiction, or superseding measures you have in place. This is about supplementing measures in your jurisdiction with additional legal authorities to give local law enforcement the maximum leverage to be able to uphold the rule of law and deal with the situation we are facing. We are not proposing to have the RCMP or any other authority supplant local law enforcement; rather, we wish to expand the range of tools available to law enforcement at all levels. We want to ensure that the federal response complements the efforts that your governments and municipalities continue to make to bring stability to the nation. The federal government continues to stand by to assist with resource asks, if and when required, to deal with the current situation.

I appreciate the views you shared yesterday on our call and I can assure you that they have been taken into account in the approaches we are taking, and will also inform the consultation report which will be tabled with the motion confirming the declaration. In addition to our discussions to date, briefings and discussions amongst officials in the coming days will also be useful. Consultation and coordination will continue to be essential on implementation which is consistent with the requirements of the Emergencies Act for consultations.

I would like to thank you, once again, for the discussion we have had on the Emergencies Act and I look forward to continue to get your perspective through this ongoing, consultative process. The federal government will continuously monitor and assess the implementation of the powers and authorities under the Emergencies Act, and stands ready to be able to respond to any need that emerges from premiers. The Minister of Public Safety will also have regular updates with his counterparts. Please follow up with me, or with Ministers Lametti, Mendicino, or LeBlanc, should you wish to discuss these matters further.

I am forwarding, for their information, a copy of this letter to David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; William Sterling Blair, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness; Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety; and Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities.


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