Canada: down with Trudeau’s Emergencies Act!

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, recently invoked the Emergencies Act, giving the federal government substantial repressive powers. Whilst nominally invoked in response to the chaos caused by the so-called “Freedom Convoy”, such powers will certainly be used against the working class in the future. The workers’ movement must therefore oppose these measures. Only the working class can stop the far right!

Justin Trudeau has finally found his “just watch me” moment. In Canada it seems that world-historic figures and events do indeed appear twice. Pierre Trudeau for Justin Trudeau, the War Measures Act for the Emergencies Act. Marx was right—it really is a tragedy the first time and a farce the second.

[NOTE: In October 1970 – during the October Crisis – then-Prime Minister and father of the present Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, invoked the repressive War Measures Act in response to kidnappings by the separatist Front de libération du Québec. Tens of thousands of raids and hundreds of arrests took place in the wave of repression.]

After weeks of inaction, the Trudeau government has invoked the Emergencies Act to deal with the “Freedom Convoy” and border blockades. The act gives the federal government sweeping powers to overrule normal democratic rights and due process.

There has been some confusion amongst people, including on the left, about whether or not to support the Trudeau government cracking down on the convoys and blockades. What position should socialists and working-class organizations take?

Emergencies Act

The Emergencies Act grants extraordinary state powers in the event of a national emergency. It is draconian legislation that greatly enhances the repressive apparatus of the federal state. However, it should be pointed out that it is a somewhat watered-down version of the War Measures Act, which it replaced in 1988 as a result of the abuse of civil rights during the 1970 October Crisis. In theory, the Emergencies Act has more parliamentary checks and balances on the government’s use of emergency powers. It is not a declaration of martial law and, unlike the War Measures Act, it cannot be used to suspend civil liberties or override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

However, the Emergencies Act is no joke and grants the federal cabinet unprecedented powers, including the ability to temporarily supersede already-existing laws and assume jurisdiction from the provinces and municipalities.

jt Image World Economic Forum FlickrAfter weeks of inaction, the Trudeau government has invoked the Emergencies Act to deal with the “Freedom Convoy” and border blockades. The act gives the federal government sweeping powers to overrule normal democratic rights and due process / Image: World Economic Forum, Flickr

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is authorized to enforce municipal and provincial laws and police are given “more tools to restore order,” including the ability to levy fines and jail people. For example, the Emergencies Act grants the federal government the power to impose fines up to $5,000 or imprison those in breach of orders for up to five years.

The act is being invoked to deal with a public order emergency. This means that cabinet has the power to prohibit “public assembly that may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of the peace.” It also allows the state to designate and secure “protected places” and prohibit travel to, from or within any specified area and allows the government to forbid the use of a “specified property.” Parliament Hill and the border crossings that have been blockaded will be declared no-go zones.

Police will now also have the power to direct “specified persons to render essential services to relieve impacts of blockades”. This provision is being used to force tow-truck companies to help clear vehicles from the blockades. Tow truckers have refused to tow vehicles in the blockades for the police in Ottawa and Coutts because “helping law enforcement with removal would likely damage their livelihoods into the future.” When the police cleared the Ambassador Bridge blockade, they were forced to use tow trucks from American companies.

The Emergencies Act allows the federal government to take financial measures by directing financial institutions to stop providing services and to freeze bank accounts. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has also said that financial institutions must freeze bank accounts and suspend insurance coverage of protest participants, which can now be done without a court order.

Incidentally, these financial measures also reveal that the “Freedom Convoy” is not really a movement of working-class truckers. This is not to say that there are no working-class truckers in the convoy and blockades. There clearly are. But how many working-class truckers can afford to take weeks off work to protest in Ottawa? There is an interesting Twitter thread that is documenting all the different trucks representing the various companies involved in the convoy. Most are in fact self-employed owner-operators and the owners of transport companies—many of whom also received support from the state during the pandemic such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). This shows that the convoy is really a vehicle to defend the interests of the owners of trucking companies, and not the workers.

Working class mobilization

Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act to deal with the “Freedom Convoy” and the blockades at border crossings. The fact of the matter is, however, that these laws can be used equally against both convoy participants and counter-protesters.

Indeed, it was the growing counter-protests to the convoys that finally convinced Trudeau to invoke the act. A recent Reuters article explained that “frustration with the failure of Canadian police to lift blockades at the border and in the capital, along with scenes of protesters lounging in hot tubs near Parliament, ultimately drove Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to seek emergency powers.”

The article adds that, almost three weeks into the convoys and blockades, the government realized that “enforcement wasn’t happening”, and most importantly that “the addition of chaotic scenes from Ottawa on the weekend, including hundreds of residents turning out to block another convoy from joining the protesters, proved too much.”

It is not a coincidence that Trudeau only invoked the Emergencies Act after this weekend, when there were several spontaneously organized counter-protests to the convoys in cities across the country. The blockade of Parliament Hill and various border crossings for days and weeks at a time is one thing, but having the working class mobilizing to take matters into their own hands to deal with the convoys was too much for the Trudeau government. As much as Trudeau will use the emergency state powers to crack down on the “Freedom Convoy”, he is also using them to stop the growing working-class mobilization against the convoys and blockades.

The Trudeau government has used the threat of political violence on the part of some convoy participants to justify the use of the Emergencies Act to crack down on the blockades. For weeks, there have been rumours swirling about some blockade participants being armed. Matt Gurney, a journalist with the National Post, reported about the Freedom Convoy’s command centre. He said that “the police are very much aware of the site, and they are very worried about the presence of a hard-right-wing, organized faction that isn't there to protest mandates and vaccine passports, but to directly create conflict with the government.” The RCMP also seized a cache of weapons and arrested 13 people at the blockade in Coutts, Alberta.

This threat of violence from the far-right to justify the use of the Emergencies Act does not hold water. During the RCMP raids against the Wet’suwet’en late last year, the police justified their violent, militarized response because they expected fiercer resistance after protesters had “called for war” on social media. They expected the land defenders to be armed. As it turns out the Wet’suwet’en defenders were not armed. But the police are clearly capable of responding to situations where weapons may be involved, and did not require the Emergencies Act to violently crack down on that blockade, only a court injunction. This shows that the threat of political violence by some on the convoy is only a cover for using the Emergencies Act. The real reason is to stop the spontaneous mobilization of the working class. The state is losing control of the situation and would lose it completely if the working class took matters into their own hands through mass mobilization. This is what ultimately forced Trudeau to act.

Opinions shift

The class nature of the “Freedom Convoy” has been revealed for all to see. The convoy is a vehicle for trucking company owners and the far-right anti-vax movement. When the convoys started there was a certain sympathy among the masses, especially for working-class truckers, but support for the movement plummeted as its real nature was exposed.

The mobilizations are also dwindling. The blockades have involved a relatively small number of vehicles, and copycat convoys in other cities are shrinking week-on-week. While the crowds in Ottawa on the first weekend were in the 8,000 to 10,000 range, with an estimated 4,000 vehicles involved, there are now only around 360 vehicles blockading Parliament Hill. This is still a significant number of vehicles blockading downtown Ottawa, but the numbers are shrinking all the same.

rightwing Image michael swan FlickrThe class nature of the “Freedom Convoy” has been revealed for all to see / Image: michael swan, Flickr

Opinions on the convoys and pandemic measures are polarizing and hardening. Recent Angus Reid polling shows that “If the goal of the Freedom Convoy was to capture the attention of millions of people in Canada and around the globe – mission accomplished. If, however, the goal was to build support for their demands to end pandemic-related restrictions – it has backfired utterly. New public opinion data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute shows after more than two weeks of unrest, Canadians are now more likely to oppose measures sought by protesters.”

When the convoys began a majority of Canadians (54 per cent) believed it was time to remove pandemic-related restrictions. According to Angus Reid, “In the weeks since they inserted themselves directly into the conversation about restrictions, the protesters have seen the pendulum swing against their point of view. One-in-three Canadians (33 per cent) say that they support the convoy’s demands of ending all public health restrictions and vaccine mandates.”

The convoys have made people angry. Many have realized that the convoy and blockades are not a workers’ movement. People living in the areas affected by the convoys and blockades are tired of the disruptions and noise. They want to take back control of their communities and protect their neighbourhoods from racism and harassment.

Many working-class people want to see something done about the “Freedom Convoy.” The presence of the far right, and the fascist and racist slogans, are repulsive. People are motivated to defend health-care workers from harassment by convoy participants.

The Angus Reid poll mentioned above had some other interesting results: 69 percent are opposed to the convoys’ approach and behaviour, compared to 27 percent supporting. Some 72 percent think it is time for the convoy participants to go home. Interestingly, 68 percent would prefer that the convoys be dealt with through force, not negotiation: 45 percent want the police to enforce laws and remove the protesters, and another 23 percent want the military to be called in.

Seeing no lead from the labour movement to mobilize against the convoys and the far right, many people, even some on the left, turned to calling on the state to do something.

Police hypocrisy

The events surrounding the convoys and blockades are driving changes in class consciousness. On the face of it, a police or military crackdown of the convoys would be reactionary. But the police did not crack down on the convoys and blockades. In fact, the police appeared to be coddling participants.

People began questioning what was going on. When invoking the Emergencies Act, Trudeau said, “It is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement's ability to effectively enforce the law.” But what we have seen is not an inability, but an unwillingness to enforce the law.

The police hypocrisy and double standards in relation to the “Freedom Convoy” have been on full display. Everyone can see it. If Indigenous activists, for example, blockaded Parliament Hill and important border crossings, the full force of the police would have been unleashed very quickly to clear them. One only has to compare the police response to the Wet’suwet’en and the 1492 Land Back Lane blockades to see the difference.

Police also knew what the “Freedom Convoy'' was. The Ottawa police claimed they were caught off guard by the blockade, but this seems hard to imagine. The Ottawa police and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) willfully ignored all the warning signs that the convoy was a vehicle for the far right. They also willfully ignored all the public statements that the convoy intended to blockade Parliament Hill. The OPP was monitoring the convoys and counting the vehicles as they made their way down highways across the province to the capital, yet the Ottawa police still somehow ended up unprepared and outnumbered. Compare this with the police response to the 2010 G20 protests in Toronto. In that situation, the police extensively prepared for the protests, and flew in thousands of additional police officers from across the country.

Part of the reason for this unwillingness of the police to enforce the law is that many sympathize with the “Freedom Convoy”. This explains the police coddling the participants of the convoys and blockades. Convoy participants in Ottawa have said that the police have been “amazing every weekend so far” and that “we’re watching the police’s back, and they’re watching our back.”

Police are supposed to be confiscating fuel and jerry cans as part of their policing of the blockade, but there have been many instances of convoy participants carrying jerry cans past police who just sit there and watch. Others have seen convoy participants dancing around police cars with jerry cans. Some have described the blockade in Ottawa as more like a tailgate party than a protest. Large video screens, food tents, hot tubs and saunas have all been set up, despite the Ottawa police saying they would crack down on bylaw violations.

There are daily examples of more and more police supporting the convoys. In one TikTok video, an OPP officer expressed support for the Freedom Convoy during a traffic stop. Among other things, he said, “I get what you guys are doing. I support you guys 100 percent.” Another OPP officer let blockade participants take photos in the back of their police cruiser. We also recently saw scenes of police hugging and shaking hands with blockaders as the Coutts border blockade was coming to end.

On an individual level, many police are right-wing racists who already sympathize with the far right. But there will also be sympathy among police for the anti-vax and anti-mandate politics of the convoy. Most police officers in Ottawa are vaccinated, but the police union is opposed to the city’s vaccine mandate for police. Other police unions and individual officers across the country are angry about vaccine mandates. The police will not be thrilled at the idea of clearing out an anti-mandate blockade they essentially agree with.

There are other political reasons for the police’s unwillingness to enforce the law in relation to the convoy. The police tend to despise politicians who they see as tying their hands. Following the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 and the calls to defund the police, many police now feel outright betrayed by the political establishment. This has become an issue in relation to the policing of the convoy blockade in Ottawa.

According to a recent CBC article, the head of the Ottawa police union “also called city councillors ‘sickeningly hypocritical’ for what he termed as ‘screaming, crying for police resources to attend their communities’ during this ongoing protest—after supporting a reduction of the police budget at the end of 2021.”

Demonstrating the many connections that exist between law enforcement, the military, and the far right, there are also former and active members of the police and military who have joined the convoy blockade. A group called Police on Guard has publicly supported the “Freedom Convoy” and claims it has boots on the ground in Ottawa. This group includes some 150 mostly retired police and 50 former Canadian Forces soldiers. The Canadian military is also investigating at least six active soldiers for supporting the convoy protests. This includes two members of the Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) special forces unit.

The leadership of the “Freedom Convoy” includes Daniel Bulford, the convoy’s head of security. He is a former RCMP officer who previously worked on the prime minister’s security detail but quit after refusing vaccination. Tom Quiggin, a former military intelligence officer who also worked with the RCMP and who is considered a top counter-terrorism expert, is also on the leadership, as is Tom Marazzo, another former military officer. In a video from one of their media conferences, Bulford bragged about his close relationship with the RCMP, the Parliamentary Protective Service, Ottawa police, and Gatineau police.

Spontaneous mobilization

People began to wonder why Indigenous blockades are attacked and cleared quickly, while the blockades of Parliament Hill and border crossings by the far-right and reactionary anti-vaxers are permitted to go on and on? Why were injunctions passed to limit the noise and supplies of convoys and blockades not enforced?

The economic impact of the blockades is a partial explanation, but it is deeper than that. As an institution, the police are protectors of private property and a key part of the bourgeois state. The blockading of downtown Ottawa will have an economic impact, but does not compare to the economic impact of some recent Indigenous blockades. The Wet’suwet’en blockades disrupted construction on the largest investment project in Canadian history, for example.

This could perhaps explain why the blockade of Ottawa was allowed to entrench itself. But what about the border blockades by the convoys? It was estimated that the blockade in Coutts, Alberta was blocking some $40 million a day in trade. Maybe $40 million a day was not high enough.

Surely then, the police would be motivated to clear the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan. The bridge is the busiest land crossing between Canada and the United States and sees some $700 million in two-way trade per day. The blockade was eventually cleared after nearly a week following intense pressure from the United States, but “the Windsor police kind of let it happen.”

People could see the hypocrisy and came to the realization that the police were unwilling to do anything about the convoys. Governments too were seen to be unwilling to do anything. Ontario Conservative Premier Doug Ford talks tough about Indigenous protest and blockades, but did nothing about the blockades in Ottawa and at the Ambassador Bridge. The United Conservative Premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney, denounced the Wet’suwet’en solidarity blockades in 2020. He then passed draconian legislation banning blockades and protests around critical infrastructure to crush any such movements in the future. But when the blockade inspired by the Freedom Convoy was set up at the border crossing in Coutts, he treated the blockaders with kid gloves, as did police.

The authority and legitimacy of the state and police was eroding. People decided that if the government and police were not going to do anything about the convoys and blockades, they would have to take matters into their own hands.

This is precisely what happened last weekend. Spontaneous counter-protests to the “Freedom Convoys” were organized in Ottawa, Kingston, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Montreal. A counter-protest was planned for Toronto but was cancelled at the last minute using the excuse that a state of emergency had been declared. This was unfortunate, as it is possible that the Toronto counter-protest would have been larger than the convoy.

The counter-protest in Kingston managed to disrupt the convoy in that city. The events in Ottawa this weekend were spectacular. The counter-protest there was able not only to stop a convoy from joining the downtown blockade around Parliament Hill, but forced it to turn around in defeat.

The Ottawa counter-protest was organized by a senior instructor at Carleton University. He had learned that a convoy would be entering the city to join the blockade downtown. He used a neighbourhood Facebook group mainly for arranging playdates and dog walking to mobilize people to oppose the convoy. They ended up taking control of an intersection and managed to block the convoy. The counter-protest was peaceful, but because they were able to defeat the convoy, these events have now been dubbed “The Battle of Billings Bridge.”

When the counter-protest started, there were only around two dozen people. More people began to trickle in and they had enough people to stop the 35 vehicles on the convoy. The counter-protesters had complete control of the intersection, and while they blocked the convoy they did allow local traffic to pass through.

Police showed up within minutes. According to organizers of the counter-demo the police “came in strong”, though an agreement was eventually reached because the counter-protestors refused to be intimidated. The police have been far more aggressive towards counter-protestors than they have towards the convoy blockades. Edmonton police sent two paddy wagons and over 20 officers with billy clubs to crack down on a small peaceful group of mostly parents who had blocked a convoy trying to get downtown there. It was similar in Montreal where police in full riot gear and “thin-blue-line” badges tried to intimidate counter-protestors.

In Ottawa, dozens of volunteers showed up to help block the convoy, eventually followed by hundreds more. It is estimated that more than 1,000 eventually turned up. People at the counter-protest expressed frustration over the ineffectiveness of law enforcement so far, and took matters into their own hands as a result. One participant said, “People were organically engaging where we needed them. It just happened. I have never seen anything like it.”

In a single afternoon, this spontaneous counter-protest managed to do more about the convoys than the police and governments had in almost three weeks. After seeing the success of the counter-protest, the organizer said, “We could seal [the convoy participants] in. We could create a human chain and close it if police won’t.”

The counter-protesters scored a major victory and showed the way to defeat the convoys and blockades. According to an article in the National Post:

“Decisions were made by consensus. As the hours rolled by, ‘discussion circles’ were held to decide the conditions for releasing the trucks. No one wanted the trucks to be able to turn around and go downtown using some other route, or to head back to the supply base on Coventry Road…

“As the sun was going down and the temperatures dipped, the truck drivers in the convoy were permitted a ‘negotiated retreat’ — they were allowed to leave one at a time, but only after their trucks had been stripped of flags, and “Freedom Convoy” stickers, and surrendered any jerry cans.

“The look on their faces when they were taking down their flags was one of defeat, not of pride…”

This is an excellent example of how the working class can mobilize to defeat the convoy. We cannot rely on the state to deal with the convoy. As one counter-protester said, “It felt good to take back some of the power. We’re not advocating for rubber bullets and tear gas. We just want our city back. It’s going to take citizens to block major thoroughfares, then it’s going to happen.”

State paralyzed

The Canadian state has been paralyzed throughout the convoys and blockades. Part of the reason for this is jurisdictional—or rather the passing of the buck that happens using jurisdiction as an excuse. Municipal governments pass the buck to provincial governments, who pass it on to the federal authorities, who then pass it back to the municipalities and the provinces. A united response to the convoys on the part of the state was impossible because the various levels of government did not want to take responsibility for the mess.

Nobody wants to be accountable for the political fallout, especially if things go badly. For example, border crossings are a federal responsibility, but the local police are responsible for law enforcement where they are located. Who takes responsibility for clearing a blockade with major political ramifications?

rcmp Image public domainThe Canadian state has been paralyzed throughout the convoys and blockades / Image: public domain

Ottawa police are responsible for policing the city, but policing a blockade of Parliament Hill with potentially important national political implications poses problems. If the situation is mishandled, it could create a problem above the paygrade of the Ottawa chief of police and mayor. They appealed to provincial authorities for assistance. But Premier Doug Ford faces the same problem, especially in an election year.

There have also been divisions in the state over how to deal with the convoy. The federal Liberal and Ontario Conservative provincial governments have supported the Emergencies Act and want the police to clear the protests and blockades. The conservative governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec are opposed to the use of the Emergencies Act—in their own jurisdictions at least.

The federal government has been critical of the police enforcement in Ottawa and the Ambassador Bridge. Former Toronto police chief and current Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair has been critical of police and said, “They need to do their job.” He called the lack of police enforcement in Ottawa “inexplicable.” The police, on the other hand, generally sympathize with the convoys.

The mayor of Ottawa was forced to admit that the local government and police had lost control of the city. The state and the police were losing their legitimacy and authority. This was even reflected in a humorous article on the satirical website The Beaverton, titled: “Police asked to help out at offices, retail stores, while Ottawa residents do their job for them”.

With the national capital “under siege” and increasing border blockades, the state was losing control of the situation. The federal government was forced to step in to regain control to restore the legitimacy of the state in general. This became especially important with the spontaneous counter-protests and the conflicts with the police. The state needs to restore order and stop the independent movement of the working class. Using the police to crack down on the convoys fills the vacuum that was created by the lack of police enforcement, and the Emergencies Act can be used to stop the counter-protests as well.

Mobilize to defeat the convoys!

The question of who defeats the far right and how this is done is important. At the moment, removing the convoys can be done by the state strengthening itself with repressive emergency powers or by the mass mobilization of the working class.

The state can crack down on the far right, but ultimately will never defeat them. The state sympathizes with the far right, even if it does not agree with their methods. The state may not need the far right and its methods right now, but at some point in the future they could prove useful to attack the working class. The police can be used to clear the convoys, but the capitalist state will never be in a position to solve the economic and social factors that give rise to the far right. This is why the working class, mobilized on the basis of a socialist program, is the only force in society that can defeat the far right.

counter protest Image FightbackThe working class can only rely on its own means and methods to defeat the far right / Image: Fightback

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has criticized Trudeau’s lack of leadership in allowing the convoy and blockades to entrench themselves and for not “responding appropriately”. He has called on Trudeau to “show some leadership” and “fix this problem.” By refusing to mobilize a working-class response to the pandemic and convoys, Singh looks to the capitalist state and “all its tools and resources” to stop the blockades. Hence the federal NDP will support the implementation of the Emergencies Act in Parliament.

The NDP is making a serious mistake by supporting the Emergencies Act. In doing so, the party is supporting the strengthening of the repressive apparatus of the federal state. Strengthening the state to act against the convoys will ultimately not stop the far right and will harm the working class and its organizations in the long run, because these emergency powers will inevitably be used against the working class.

The checks and balances on the Emergencies Act would be weakened in a situation with a majority government, but with a minority government the use of the act could be stopped. The NDP has the balance of power on this question. It wouldn’t go through if the party didn’t support it. What’s worse is that the NDP has been involved in blocking and sabotaging mobilizations for counter-protests against the convoys, making the party’s support for the Emergencies Act even more scandalous.

The situation in the unions is not much better. Under pressure, the Public Sector Alliance of Canada organized a demonstration the day before the Battle of Billings Bridge. Some 4,000 attended this demo, showing the potential for mobilization. But the demo was in a remote location and played no role in the blocking of the convoy.

Auto plants were shut down during the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge. Work at various plants was temporarily slowed or shut down entirely due to the lack of parts from the U.S.A. There was a mood of anger among autoworkers against the convoys. Unifor could have mobilized the workers to head down to the bridge and clear the blockade exactly like the Battle of Billings Bridge. There is no need for tear gas or for violence—the working class just needs to mobilize. Instead of relying on the workers and its own union strength, Unifor issued a statement which admitted that the membership was willing to act. They wrote, “We appreciate all of the letters of concern sent in from Unifor members, and your willingness to take counter-action. To ensure your safety, we are asking local union leadership not to engage directly with these protestors.” Instead of working-class mobilization they relied on the state, “urging all levels of government to take immediate and reasonable steps to ensure the resumption of goods and people moving across borders. We expect governments to treat this escalating situation as a national emergency.”

The labour movement—the unions and the NDP—must oppose the Emergencies Act. The use of emergency powers by the federal government to deal with the Freedom Convoy sets a dangerous precedent. It normalizes the use of emergency state powers to deal with protests and blockades. There was a time when back-to-work legislation and the notwithstanding clause were rarely used and “unprecedented” too. Today they are used all the time. With the economic crisis of capitalism deepening and increased polarization, as can be seen with the “Freedom Convoy” itself, it is very likely that the Emergencies Act will be used more frequently in the future.

But who will the Emergencies Act be used against? These emergency state powers are currently being used against the far right, but the main target in the future will be the labour movement and the left, workers and the oppressed. Emergency state powers will undoubtedly be used against trade unionists, Indigenous land and water defenders, and environmental and anti-racist activists.

The Emergencies Act will be a powerful tool in the hands of the ruling class and their state in the class struggle. It will be used against demonstrations and strikes. In the case of a serious strike movement, picket lines and workplace occupations could be declared illegal. No-go zones could be established to prevent mass demonstrations. The act will be used against Indigenous land defenders. Entire areas, such as unceded lands, could be declared no-go zones by the state in order to crush blockades and protests. Enhanced financial powers could be used to sequester union and solidarity funds.

With regards to the future use of the Emergencies Act against a mass workers’ movement, the appropriate response would be to generalize the movement and organize solidarity strikes, and even a general strike if possible. The movement needs to be ideologically prepared for the violation of civil liberties.

The working class can only rely on its own means and methods to defeat the far right. The counter-protest at Billings Bridge shows us the way forward. The labour movement has the resources to organize a mass movement that can take up the fight against the convoy and against the pandemic. If the labour movement took the lead and made a bold call to mobilize the opposition to the convoys, the response would dwarf the convoys across the country.

The fight against the convoys cannot stop there. The far right must be defeated politically. This connects the fight against the convoys to the fight against the mishandling of the pandemic and the whole rotten capitalist system. Healthcare workers and teachers could be mobilized to fight for increased funding for healthcare and schools, for the hiring of more nurses and teachers, for increased hospital capacity and smaller class sizes. Working-class truckers could be mobilized to fight for better pay and working conditions. A mass movement of the working class could be organized to fight for workers’ control of workplace safety and against the profiteering and the mishandling of the pandemic.

The counter-protests this past weekend show that more and more working class people are willing to fight back against the convoys and the far right. This spontaneous movement has shown the way forward and shown how the convoys can be defeated. With an ounce of leadership, the labour movement could harness this anger and militant mood to mobilize a mass working class movement, which would completely transform the situation.

  • Mobilize against the Emergencies Act!
  • Mobilize against the convoys and the far right!
  • Mobilize to fight for a working class program to deal with the pandemic!
  • Mobilize to fight for better pay and working conditions!
  • Mobilize to fight the billionaires and the rotten capitalist system!

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