A banana republic is economically dependent on a single export commodity (like bananas) and governed by a corrupt authoritarian dictator with backing from the armed forces. Bananas aside, the term refers to any exploitative government that functions poorly for its citizenry while disproportionately benefiting a corrupt elite group or individual.
The baseless invocation of a “national emergency” from February 14 to 23 has exposed Canada as a banana republic, albeit a cold one with polar bears.
Declaring a national emergency requires “an urgent and critical situation” that “seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians” or that “seriously threatens the ability of the government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada,” with a further requirement that the situation “cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.”
A “public order emergency,” which is how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau characterized this national emergency, must amount to a “threat to the security of Canada” which includes “acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political, religious or ideological objective within Canada.”
When Trudeau declared a national emergency on the afternoon of February 14, 2022, three different border blockades at Coutts, Emerson, and Windsor had already come to an end. Mr. Trudeau was left only with a bunch of peaceful truckers in Ottawa, who shoveled snow, fed the homeless, picked up garbage, sang the national anthem, danced to music in the streets, and set up bouncy castles for kids.
No doubt the truckers inflicted some inconvenience on some Ottawa residents, but there was no “blockade,” “siege” or “occupation” as alleged by Trudeau. As for this protest being “illegal,” during its first three weeks, the Ottawa police did not charge or arrest a single trucker in respect of any crime. The freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly are enshrined by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and are a cornerstone of our democracy.
In a sworn affidavit filed with the Federal Court, New Brunswick resident Edward Cornell states that the protests in Ottawa were “entirely peaceful” and “festive and friendly,” without any hostility from anyone towards anyone, and with people of all different backgrounds, races, and ethnicities present. Mr. Cornell is a 64-year-old retired Warrant Officer of the Canadian Armed Forces. He was awarded a Medal of Bravery on June 15, 1987, in recognition of his heroism in hazardous circumstances during active duty in Cyprus.
He is one of four Canadians represented by the Justice Centre in a new court action to hold the federal government to account for its abuse of the Emergencies Act.
Mr. Cornell is one of hundreds of Canadians whose bank accounts were frozen for supporting the truckers’ protest. In his sworn affidavit, he states “I broke no law, yet the government seized my accounts and froze my hard-earned money. I am not a criminal. I am not a terrorist. I am a retired Canadian military veteran who honourably served his country… I feel betrayed by my own government.”
In what is supposed to be a free and democratic society that adheres to the rule of law, innocent Canadian citizens were suddenly stripped of their ability to buy groceries and medicine, pay their mortgage and heating bills, and receive paycheques into their accounts. Their car insurance and home insurance policies were canceled, along with their credit and debit cards. Mr. Trudeau created a stress-filled living hell for these people.
The freezing of bank accounts is a gross abuse of government power, used to punish those who supported a peaceful protest which called for the return of Charter rights and freedoms taken away from Canadians by their politicians nearly two years ago. Subjecting peaceful protesters to being trampled by police horses and struck by police truncheons is another way to punish dissent.
When indigenous peoples and environmentalists shut down Canadian rail lines in 2020, preventing ships on both coasts from unloading their cargo, depriving Quebec of needed propane, and causing layoffs across Canada, the Emergencies Act was not considered.
Similarly, when “protesters” in 2020 and 2021 wantonly engaged in crimes of arson and vandalism, including the destruction of historical monuments, the Emergencies Act was not used. Why was it invoked for the truckers’ peaceful protest?
Banana republics do not respect the rule of law. Their rulers use state power to punish opponents, reward friends, and further corrupt agendas.