The Law

Court Throws Trudeau under a Truck

Back in 1944 during the brutal fighting in the Second World War there was a landmark US Supreme Court decision called Korematsu which upheld the internment of Japanese Americans from the US west coast.  The US Bill of Rights was of zero help to Mr. Korematsu.  And, of course, this decision is hardly surprising.  It was war.  Top judges are as likely to be swept up in the prevailing panic and outlooks as any other top officials.  Of course, give it a decade so that the panic can calm down and odds are very high you would get a very different outcome from the courts.  (Spoiler Alert:  For analogous reasons, this is why I told everyone who asked me during the Covid lockdown hysteria that in my view there was zero chance of getting any recourse from the judiciary anywhere in the anglosphere, bill of rights or no bill of rights, a view that has proven correct.)

And that brings me to my native Canada and the courts there.  To start, most readers will remember the Trucker Convoy that spread across chunks of Canada during the lockdowns.  These truckers were mostly independent contractors and they were protesting Trudeau government vaccine mandates that were going to cost many of these drivers their livelihoods.  The truckers dubbed their protest the Freedom Convoy.  This convoy arrived into Ottawa, the national capital, at the end of January 2022 and the truckers parked all their vehicles on roads in downtown Ottawa near Parliament Hill.  This violated all sorts of parking bylaws and probably the provincial Highway Traffic Act as well.  While this was happening in Ottawa truckers also blocked roads and border crossings in Alberta and near Detroit in Ontario.  Those non-Ottawa protests were dealt with by the respective provincial law enforcement authorities by issuing tickets and, after a bit, towing the trucks.

But not in Ottawa, where in mid-February of 2022 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opted to invoke the Emergencies Act.  This egislation was the progenitor of the War Measures Act that invoked by then prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau (father of Justin and about twice as smart, which made Dad a lot more dangerous for conservatives like me than his son, who in no galaxy can be described as one of the sharper tools in the shed) to deal with the francophone terrorists in 1970 who were kidnapping and murdering in the name of an independent Quebec.  The later Emergencies Act was meant to have more judicial and political safeguards than its predecessor statute.  Remember, this was a statute to deal with times when the existence of the state was in question.  Anyway, on February 15t,2022, Trudeau Jr declared a public-order emergency to deal with the truckers who had blocked traffic in central Ottawa (but had committed no acts of violence and indeed some chunks of the population – even in Canada’s equivalent of Canberra – were cheering on the truckers).  The key factor is that under this ‘we have a national emergency’ legislation Trudeau’s government issued two regulations.  One prohibited all public assemblies that might reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of the peace.  The other, incredibly, authorised banks to freeze the bank accounts of the truckers and anyone who donated money to their cause.  (And yes, this could and did include grandmothers who had donated $50.) This second regulation made donations to the truckers a breach of the emergency law.

Then, three days later, the police in Ottawa moved in with all the subtlety of the thuggish Victoria Police enforcing Chairman Dan’s pandemic regulations.  (We’ve all seen the videos of what the police did there, right?  Any actions so far taken against those police officers?  To ask is to answer, I’m afraid.)  Baton charges.  Pepper spray.  The arrest of hundreds of trucker convoy protesters.  (Compare this to the more recent Canadian police response to anti-Israel protesters in Canada and then stop wondering why people like me – before the Covid thuggery, the most pro-police law professor in the Anglosphere – have become pretty jaundiced about the police and suspect some in the upper echelons of having been politicised.)  Frozen bank accounts and frozen credit cards of all sorts of supporters of the convoy.  The truckers all moved on.  And then with myriad arrests and bank balances seized Team Trudeau Jr, a week or so later, revoked the regulations made under the Emergencies Act.  (Digression:  Anyone who witnessed what happened in Ottawa or in Dan Andrews’ Victoria during the Covid thuggery and who isn’t very nervous indeed about a ‘cashless society’ in which government if pushed might just opt to block you from spending your own money – they say they won’t, but do you trust either side of our political caste – lacks all imagination.)

Of course the truckers at the time got no relief from the Canadian courts.  I explained my thinking on that to start this column.  But that was then.  Time moved on and matters calmed down and the judges, as prone to panic and groupthink as any Ottawa or Canberra bureaucrat, eventually became much more receptive to policing government overreach.  At least that’s one explanation for a Canadian Federal Court judge’s decision last month, when Judge Richard Mosley ruled the Trudeau government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act was unlawful and unconstitutional.  The judge held the trucker protests did not constitute a national emergency.  (Recall that in other parts of the country the trucker protests were dealt with under parking bylaws and the Highway Code.)  Nor were these protests a threat to the security of Canada.  On every point the judge ruled against the Trudeau government — though the judge did say, bizarrely, that had he been at the Cabinet table he too might have signed off on this heavy-handed response.

Of course the government of Canada immediately announced that it would appeal this decision to the Federal Court of Appeal.  Remember that in Canada all superior court judges in the federal courts and in the provinces are appointed by the centre (a big difference to our Australian and the US Constitutions).  And the Trudeau lefty-Liberal government has been in power for quite a while now.  And those on the political left take judicial appointments very seriously, in the sense of appointing like-minded types to the courts in a way that (Trump excepted) conservative governments around the anglosphere seem congenitally incapable of doing – go and read the Love decision here in Australia and realise that the majority judges were all but one brought to you by the Libs.  Ditto some of the recent rulings I’d describe as ‘activist’.

So who knows if this enervated bit of judicial standing up for civil liberties in Canada will be upheld on appeal?  And, of course, either way it won’t do anything for the many people who lost their livelihoods and were ruined by Trudeau’s response.  But it’s a small start in terms of some minimal bit of accountability.  And with a Canadian election having to be held in the next 16 months or so, and with Mr Trudeau far behind in the polls, well maybe we’ll also see some political accountability in the not-too-distant future.

9 thoughts on “Court Throws Trudeau under a Truck


    That smug brat from the loins of señor dictador of viva la revolución infamy persecuted the long suffering Canadian truckers but came off worst in the prang. Vive les camionneurs canadiens!

  • Daffy says:

    Thomas Sowell put it well in, I think, “Vision of the Anointed”. The modern liberals (which the Liberal Party here is underway to becoming) believe they are ‘anointed’ by their superior intelligence, insight and moral gilding, to know The Way. The Way is to be imposed on all irrespective of the inconvenience of the law and that slowly hatched Western tradition of the equality of all before the law. Lex est Rex, as one Puritan termed it. Modern judges, police commissioners and politicians have caught this bug.
    The bug they need to catch is the old conservatives, that know man’s deeply flawed nature and the essential need to continue to interrogate and expose it. No politician, media pundit or academic (another target of Sowell’s) can be above this, but is enmeshed in the same web of frailty that entangles us all. More humility, less hubristic bowdlerizing of our traditions.

    • ianl says:

      Yes of course, but what is missing here, as it is also from James Allan’s essay above, are suggestions for reasonable, practical methods of achieving this. This has been so for many, many moons now.

      The European farmers have shown the most direct way, although success there is still open. French farmers blockaded Paris entries, so Macron put his nose high in the air and got on a plane to visit the King of Sweden. Aus farmers “go to Canberra” and the MSM mostly goes missing. Replies simply repeating that the struggle must be kept going is, in my view, just virtue signalling.

      • Simon Mundy says:

        I’ve just imbibed a sobering dose of history via Tom Holland’s book, Dominion. In Holland’s engaging telling, the battle between (self-)appointed purveyors of claimed social, political and philosophical enlightenment has been a feature of Western social history since pre-Christian times. Indeed since the Persian empire.

        The only “practical” way of achieving a turn-around, or at least a moderation of a holier-than-thou establishment is to argue back and point out their hypocrisies.

        The pattern seems reliable that there is a vast section of the population who just want to get on with their lives and who, when the effect on that modest ambition of the depredations of the holier-than-thous (HTTs) is made clear, will reject at least the extremes of HTT governance.

        It’s not quick, but it generally doesn’t cost lives.

  • Michael Waugh says:

    Those pleased to call themselves “left” or “progressive” are far more prone to require obedience or submission, and are far more likely to have hissy fits if an individual protests or disagrees. There’s a quote from CS Lewis about the tyrannically oppressive nature of those convinced of their moral superiority. Trudeau and Dan probably are as incapable of seeing themselves correctly as all the tyrants of history.

    • Tricone says:

      This quote, Michael?

      “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.

      The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

      • Simon Mundy says:

        Note that Lewis does not aim his warning against any particular political orientation. On the fascist right, Mussolini, Hitler, Putin all saw, and see, their movements as being for the good of their “people”.

      • Louis Cook says:

        And further, when the government legislates for something like the Human Rights Commission, they always put a zealot in charge. The zealot then goes like hell to justify their own existence. It feeds on itself until it becomes tyranny! How do we get rid of these ‘illegitimate’ bees?

  • says:

    My apologies for being a smart-arse (can’t help myself) but maybe the Emergencies Act invoked by Trudeau Jnr. in 2022 was not the progenitor of the War Measures Act invoked by Trudeau Snr in 1970, but the other way around. Sorry about that. I must however say that I am a great admirer of James Allan, whom I usually encounter in the pages of The Spectator Australian. Keep up the good work Prof.

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