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Provincial leaders mixed on Trudeau's invocation of the Emergencies Act

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Provincial leaders have differing views on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s invocation of the Emergencies Act to stop the “Freedom Convoy” protesters.

On Monday afternoon, Trudeau announced his government would invoke the Emergencies Act for the next 30 days, which would give more tools for local police when it comes to stiffer fines or arrests, allows banks to freeze accounts of people who supported the truckers financially, and for commercial trucks involved in the convoy to have their insurance suspended. 

Trudeau has said that the military would not be called in as part of these measures.

The decision to invoke the Emergencies Act has been controversial, with legal experts suggesting the convoy does not meet the threshold for the act, while others argue the actions in Ottawa and recent firearms arrests in Alberta suggest there is enough there to invoke it.

In speaking to reporters on Monday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said that his province is not in favour of invoking the Emergencies Act and is worried the move might further anger people at a blockade along the U.S.-Canada in Coutts, Alta.

“I am concerned that there’s a certain kind of person who will hear if the federal government proceeds with this, who will be further enflamed, and that could lead to a prolongation of some of these protests,” he said.

In a statement late Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he would support the Emergencies Act.

“Those participating in illegal blockades in Ontario and across Canada need to know there are serious consequences for their actions,” Ford said. “That is why, similar to the steps our government took last week, I support the federal government in providing additional tools to help police resolve the situation in the nation’s capital.”

“I expressed to the prime minister that these measures should be targeted and time-limited, but that we need to do what it takes to restore law and order in our country.”

Ford declared a provincial state of emergency on Friday, which allowed police to levy stiffer fines and stricter arrests against the convoy protesters in Ottawa and Windsor, Ont.

“Blocking billions of dollars of trade, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs on the line, and continuing to disrupt the lives of everyday Ontarians cannot continue,” he said.

Meanwhile, British Columbia deputy premier Mike Farnworth told reporters that his province also supports the move and accused the protesters of holding the country “economic hostage."

"We are supportive of the measures he feels he needs to deal with the situation back east," Farnworth said.

In a tweet, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said he hopes the Emergencies Act is only used “in provinces that request it.”

“The illegal blockades must end, but police already have sufficient tools to enforce the law and clear the blockades, as they did over the weekend in Windsor,” he said.

“Therefore, Saskatchewan does not support the Trudeau government invoking the Emergencies Act.” 

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson called the invocation “not necessary” and worried it might escalate the situation in Manitoba, where a blockade continues at the Canada-U.S. border in Emerson, Man., and protests have been held outside the Manitoba legislature for at least a week.

"The use of the Emergencies Act is very, very serious, and needs to be considered very seriously before enacting something like that," she said.

"I think it's important that Manitobans and Canadians know and understand that it's not necessary, and we need to think very carefully and clearly before going in that direction."

Stefanson added that the police in her province are already “doing very good work.”

Quebec Premier François Legault said police in his province have been able to contain the protests thus far, so there’s no need for the Emergencies Act in Quebec.

“We see what’s happening in Ottawa … some people are being prevented from going to work, it’s having serious impacts on the economy in Ontario so it’s understandable that after two weeks the federal government and the provincial government are looking to end this blockade that’s been called a siege,” Legault said.

“However, we don’t have the same problem here in Quebec. Secondly, we need to be cautious. Now is not the time to let our guard down.”

Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-François Blanchet also opposed the special measure, calling it “not legitimate” and “useless.”

“So we don't want it and we don't want the extent of the powers that the federal government could give itself to go as far as eventually using the army, obviously not in Quebec, but I believe nowhere. But this is a position which seems to be the decision of the government of Quebec as well as ours,” Blanchet said.

In a tweet, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey said he supports the use of the Emergencies Act in this case.

“I support our federal government in invoking the Emergencies Act as laid out - with a time limit and to bolster response - to deal with unacceptable behaviour within blockades in our country, infringing on the rights of law-abiding Canadians,” he said.

With files from CTV News Vancouver Island, CTV News Winnipeg and CTV News Montreal

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