The first-year anniversary of the invocation of the Emergencies Act has come and gone with a whimper not a bang.

No big-rig trucks blocking the streets for weeks near Parliament Hill like with the Freedom Convoy a year ago. No high-pressure air horns at all hours of the night. No large police presence, although it was jacked up.

No bouncy castles.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the act a year ago, it basically put the entire population of Canada under house arrest and without much say. The RCMP was given the power to move out the convoy, seize property, and freeze the bank accounts of all involved.

Within reason, the RCMP was handed carte-blanche powers, the complete freedom to act as it wished or thought best.

Although it might not have riled an entire nation, it came close.

While this was the first time the controversial act was brought into play, it was reminiscent of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau involving its predecessor, the War Measures Act, in the early 1970s to deal with a murderous cell of Quebec’s separatist FLQ who kidnapped a British diplomat and killed a provincial Quebec cabinet minister.

When a journalist asked how far was he prepared to go? “Just watch me,” Trudeau famously replied.

Soon there were tanks on the streets of Ottawa.

Now, on the one-year anniversary of the invocation of the Emergencies Act, anticipation is building for the release of a national inquiry’s report into the historic series of events surrounding the powers used to end the  Ottawa occupation and Canada-U.S. border blockades.

So far, the occasion was being marked in a quiet way on Parliament Hill, save for a handful of Freedom Convoy protesters seen downtown on Tuesday afternoon. According to Ottawa police, a morning convoy of unspecified size “safely passed through the city without any incidents.”

This, of course, is a definite change from this time last year when the streets were jammed with big-rig transport trucks, inflatables, and numerous anti-Trudeau and anti-vaccine signs, as well as a couple of Confederate flags and neo-Nazi decals.

On Monday morning, however, Ottawa police and bylaw officers had issued 244 parking tickets for violating the Special Event No-Stopping Zone restrictions, while 25 vehicles had been towed from downtown streets. At least 67 Provincial Offences Notices were also issued.

Parliamentary Protective Service officers arrested two people for trespassing on Parliament Hill Saturday afternoon.

“I’m happy to say there was a number of tickets, a number of tows. For the most part, we didn’t see another convoy or occupation arrive in our city,” Ottawa Coun. Ariel Troster said Sunday.

“We are never going to allow another situation again where people take up residence in our neighbourhoods and allow harassment of everyday people.”

Newly-elected Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, who was not on council last year, told CTV News that police had reported no issues. 

“As long as the protests are peaceful and as long as they are not disturbing the public in any significant way, that they are not making noise that traumatizes or triggers residents of Centretown, they’re not blocking roads or bringing vehicles in illegally, then they are welcome to demonstrate and express their opinions,” Sutcliffe told CTV.

“It’s not a large number of people and it’s not causing a lot of disruption at the moment.

“I think a lot of things are normal, business as usual.”

Meanwhile, as the public portion of the Emergencies Act inquiry has come to an end after six weeks of hearings, Commissioner Paul Rouleau said he heard enough to decide whether the Trudeau government was right to invoke the legislation for the first time in history.

Rouleau said it was clear the convoy exposed divisions and he hopes his report will help heal those wounds.

There were, by the way, 9,500 written submissions.


  • Mark Bonokoski

    Mark Bonokoski is a member of the Canadian News Hall of Fame and has been published by a number of outlets – including the Toronto Sun, Maclean’s and Readers’ Digest.