Ottawa (February 17, 2022): The World Sikh Organization of Canada is deeply concerned by the Government of Canada’s invocation of the Emergencies Act.
The Emergencies Act must be a measure of last resort in response to a threat to our country that cannot be dealt with under any existing laws and powers. The Government must clearly and transparently articulate why the current crisis could not have been resolved without resorting to this extreme measure. In any case, the Government must commit to lifting the emergency orders as soon as possible.
The deferential manner in which the current protests and blockades have been handled by law enforcement is in stark contrast to how previous protests by racialized minorities and other vulnerable groups have been handled in the past in Canada. The heavily armed RCMP crackdown in response to the Wet’suwet’en blockade and the dismantling of a homeless camp in Toronto are recent examples. By contrast, images of RCMP officers embracing and shaking hands with blockaders at Coutts, even after an arsenal of deadly weapons had been seized, are deeply disconcerting.
The Government must clarify why the current blockades could not have been resolved using existing laws and police powers. It appears in many instances that police have chosen not to enforce existing laws and court orders, furthering the current crisis.
Increasing police powers in response to a situation where police have refused to enforce the law with already existing powers sets a dangerous precedent. The current crisis has revealed clear inequities in the enforcement of the law that must be recognized and resolved. If the response of police to the current blockades is left unaddressed, it will lead to further distrust amongst racialized communities and vulnerable groups.
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights of all individuals.