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Statement from the CLA Executive on the invocation of the Federal Emergencies Act

A criminal defence lawyer’s responsibility is to uphold constitutional rights and protect the public from unnecessary state intrusions. We do not condone criminal activity or support those who engage in such reprehensible conduct, regardless of the cause.The Criminal Lawyers’ Association stands for democracy, the rule of law and civil liberties.

The right to peaceful protest and assembly is essential in an enlightened democracy like Canada. However, that right does not extend to engaging in or encouraging criminal behaviour such as blocking these highways and bridges, nor does it justify hate speech, harassment, violence or intimidation. Illegality like this is an affront to the rule of law.

There are many painful lessons to be learned from this calamity including the failure of police to enforce the law and the failure on the part of all levels of government to work together to protect the public from this uprising.

Whether the solution to this unlawful conduct was to rely on the Emergencies Act remains unclear given that we are not privy to all of the intelligence information that the government had when they enacted the legislation. In the coming months, we will look to hold our government accountable by examining what circumstances justified the use of this extraordinary power and in the coming days, we call upon the government to cease its use of the Act and its sweeping powers as soon as possible now that the situation in Ottawa and elsewhere across Canada appears to be under control.

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