Lawyers from across the country rejoiced upon hearing the news that the Emergencies Act was deemed unconstitutional by the Federal Court of Canada. 

This ruling has been met with enthusiasm from Christine Van Geyn, Litigation Director at the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), who played a pivotal role in challenging the government’s use of the Act.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Van Geyn on the Andrew Lawton Show. “My best hope, I think, was surpassed with this because we really won on everything.”

The decision follows an application for judicial review by the CCF, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Frontline Nurses, and some individuals affected by the emergency measures.

One of the litigants, Edward Cornell, had called on veterans to come to Ottawa for the protest. Cornell is a veteran who had served his country for decades and had his bank account frozen for participating in the Freedom Convoy. Being unable to buy food, fill his vehicle with gas, or pay for anywhere to stay, Cornell said that had it not been for the kindness of others, he’d not have made it back to his home in New Brunswick.

Having joined the military in 1975, five years after the FLQ crisis and the implementation of the War Measures Act, Cornell said that the federal government’s overreach during the convoy showed that it was power drunk and wanted to squash any public dissent.

“They would go to any length to quell people from speaking out,” said Cornell on the Andrew Lawton Show. “I never thought that I could see our government turn on the Canadian people and also turn on veterans who were standing in support of truckers with medals on and be beaten into submission and thrown out like yesterday’s garbage in the middle of nowhere.”

The case argued that the invocation of the Emergencies Act in response to the 2022 Freedom Convoy was unreasonable and ultra vires, meaning outside of the scope of the Act’s authority. The other issue was that the regulations created by the Emergencies Act, such as prohibitions on gatherings, prohibitions on protesting, and financial measures such as freezing Canadians’ bank accounts, were unconstitutional.

“This is big news!” said convoy lawyer Eva Chipiuk. “Do not be afraid to stand up to your government. In fact, it is your job as a citizen in democracy. Your voice matters, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” she said. 

The Federal Court found that those measures violated several sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

“My initial reaction is that this surpassed my expectations,” said Van Geyn, admittedly only 90 pages into the 190-page document at the time. 

“This is a wonderful day for fundamental freedoms in Canada, for the right to protest.”

Van Geyn explained that many Canadians lost their faith in the country’s justice system throughout the pandemic. 

“This is a huge exception, and I think that in the context of the pandemic, the invocation of the Emergencies Act was the most extreme piece of government overreach. And here we have a court slapping down the Trudeau government for having done that.”

“This is an absolute loss for the Trudeau government. They couldn’t have lost worse,” said Van Geyn.  

Chrystia Freeland announced that the federal government plans to appeal the decision.

“I was certain, after a lot of deliberation with colleagues and many others, that we took the right decision. I was certain at the time. I was certain when I testified before Rouleau, and I remain certain today,” said Freeland

Convoy lawyer Keith Wilson also told the Andrew Lawton Show that the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act to clear out protest tragically with brutal, tyrannical force against lawful protesting Canadians. 

“But this is a great day for Canada,” he said. 

Upon hearing of Freeland’s intent to appeal the decision, Wilson said that he hadn’t yet read the whole decision but understood the legal arguments and area of law very well.

“They’ll be weak. That’s a sign of desperation,” he said, reacting to the federal government’s intent to appeal. 

Wilson was a part of the truckers’ negotiation with the mayor to de-escalate the pressure on residential portions of the downtown. He said that Ottawa saw his move to de-escalate and take away the justification for the Emergencies Act, which he said is why they rushed it in.

“They rushed it in because the Prime Minister was embarrassed that Canadians had stood up to  his tyrannical behaviour, and he wanted to punish them, and he wanted to hurt them, and he wanted to send a message: that this is the new authoritarian Canada, in my view, and don’t you dare question me.”