OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican with a strong libertarian streak, has issued a warning to Americans after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently invoked a little-used law to break up the “Freedom Convoy” trucker protest in Ottawa.
In an interview with a political podcast that was released on Sunday, Paul compared Canada’s “Emergencies Act” to similar laws on the books in the United States, noting that a number of ‘national emergencies’ currently in effect were initially declared years ago and are simply renewed by presidents annually without debate for fanfare.
“I think statutes that allow presidents or heads of state to invoke emergencies are very, very dangerous,” said Paul during an episode of the BASED Politics program.
“We have the same sort of statutes here, and I have long-time been an opponent of these. We actually have in the United States an Emergency Act that allows the president to shut down the internet,” he said.
Fox News adds:
Several Canadian civil liberties groups have also spoken out against Trudeau after he invoked the Emergencies Act to cut off funding for “Freedom Convoy” truckers, freeze their bank accounts and crack down on the lingering demonstrations in Ottawa. The trucker protest has been largely cleared from the Canadian capital, but Trudeau has not yet relaxed the state of emergency.
Paul explained how he failed in his attempt to corral anti-Trump Democrats into an alliance with libertarian-leaning Republicans to strike down such emergency power legislation during the Trump administration.
“[Sen.] Mike Lee had some reforms that he put forward on the Emergency Act, and it’s something we should look at, because these things go on and on,” Paul continued. “There are some emergencies in the U.S. that have been going on for many, many decades. And the president can just renew them every year. There’s no real stopping him.”
The Kentucky senator went on to point out how he tweeted Feb. 16 that Canada had transformed itself into Egypt, where he said President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has been extending his emergency powers so he could arbitrarily detain or target political opponents.
When Canada became Egypt . . . ruled by emergency edict that allows prohibition of public assembly, travel, and the commandeering of private companies without your day in court.https://t.co/wvX2BydS4x
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) February 16, 2022
“And so the emergency edict that Trudeau has done in Canada allows him to do some horrendous things, allows him to stop travel, allows him to detain people without trial. Now we don’t know that he’s going to do that, but it is very, very worrisome what he might do,” Paul said.
Canadian groups have also pushed back on Trudeau’s emergency declaration.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has said that despite the disruption caused by the trucker’s protests, that did not rise to the level of standard needed for the prime minister to invoke the Emergencies Act. The group said that the law exists for “the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada” and only for actions that “cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.”
That said, the Canadian parliament voted Monday to support Trudeau’s declaration, with two left-wing factions coming together in order to pass the measure.
“Even though the prime minister was allowed to use the powers authorized under the Emergencies Act immediately, parliamentary approval is required within seven days for the declaration to be valid. Canada’s Senate must also vote on whether it approves the use of emergency powers, though no date has been set,” the Washington Post reported.
“The Emergencies Act is not something to undertake lightly, and it’s something that needs to be momentary, temporary and proportional,” Trudeau said ahead of the vote.