Focus On

COVIDIOTs could be deterred by Emergencies Act | Laurelly Dale

Friday, March 27, 2020 @ 2:54 PM | By Laurelly Dale

Laurelly Dale %>
Laurelly Dale
One might be intoxicated if they were to drink every time a reporter asked Prime Minister Trudeau whether he will try to invoke the Emergencies Act, R.S.C., 1985, c.22 (4th Supp.).

As cases grow each day and the death toll climbs, we are becomingly justifiably anxious. We grasp at what we can control when trying to tame the unknown. We will use anything and everything to combat this %&*$&#@ virus. Including the Emergencies Act. Each province has stepped up. Invoking the Act would add quarantine powers and persuade a handful of COVIDIOTS to follow the rules. These may be reasons enough to justify its declaration.

COVIDIOTS are those doing their part to ensure the spread of the virus. They are best depicted on spring break in Florida. Drunk, topless, bloodshot eyes and with slurred speech they commented to reporters, “If I get corona I get corona, no one is going to stop me from partying.”

A pair of nurses decided to capitalize on the dirt-cheap cost of trips to Cuba, leaving a couple of days before the borders closed from Winnipeg. Defending their decision, one said, “I think it’s blown out of proportion. If we see a guy that’s coughing up a lung, we’re not going to sit next to him at the table.”

These are COVIDIOTS. Steps taken by the provinces do not seem to have deterred them.

The federal government can declare COVID-19 a “public welfare emergency” and invoke the Emergencies Act. This is a temporary measure that allows the federal government to regulate travel; use or dispose property; order the evacuation of persons; regulate essential goods and services; establish emergency hospitals, among other things.

In order to invoke the Act it requires the approval of the cabinet. It also contains a 90-day sunset clause — this can be renewed.

No, this doesn’t open up a tickle trunk full of untapped resources not yet utilized in our war against the virus. Each province has passed similar measures. But it can expand the powers under the Quarantine Act, requiring certain Canadians (not just those entering Canada), to isolate for 14 days.

The signal it sends is powerful. It says to the COVIDIOTS that this is the final straw. The longer we do not follow the rules the longer we remain incarcerated in our homes without a warrant expiry date.

For those nostalgic political nerds, let’s stroll down pre-Charter memory lane.

Father Trudeau was the last PM to invoke the Emergencies Act — then of course the War Measures Act. Before then it was invoked only in both world wars. The emergency was the October 1970 FLQ crisis.

Members of the FLQ kidnapped a deputy premier and British diplomat. In probably one of the most badass interviews of a world leader, Pierre Trudeau replied “just watch me” when asked “how far” he would go. Military stormed the streets of Quebec. Four hundred and ninety seven were arrested and detained, some without being brought before a justice of the peace for upwards of 21 days.

Sadly, the deputy premier was killed but the diplomat was released after extensive negotiations. As part of the exchange, five of the kidnappers and one of their wives escaped to Cuba after receiving the approval of Fidel Castro. No, this is not he plot of Die Hard 12. This actually happened — in Canada.

There are a few notable differences between the emergency now versus in 1970. It’s quite obvious that the type differs. COVID-19 would be categorized as a public welfare emergency, falling into the specific category of “disease in human beings.”

The FLQ crisis was a national emergency that seriously endangered the lives of Canadians. Father Trudeau had the support of most provinces except the one that was facing the crisis: Quebec. Its premier at the time, Rene Levesque, was in vehement opposition.

Son Trudeau revealed that he and the premiers have discussed the possibility of invoking the Act. The premiers would support its passing.

Through COVID-19 no one has been stepping on anyone’s toes. Paramountcy doesn’t seem to be the concern. The most notable difference is the potential redundancy of invoking the Act.

At the moment each province has passed its version of the Emergency Act. They’ve ordered all non-essential businesses closed, required everyone to stay at home and added fines/possible detention for those who do not comply. We don’t know if any of the provinces are overwhelmed and need help. It’s possible. This is also a requirement of the Act.

Invoking the Emergency Act could do things that provinces can’t do. Sending a message. Creating broad quarantine powers.

What real power does the Act have? The answer is simple: It’s what the Act represents — not the bones of the law — that would make a difference. This is why doctors continue to advocate for its implementation. This is our last resort. All hands on deck. It is a wake-up call needed to deter COVIDIOTS.

Replay footage of the FLQ crisis. Scare them into stopping the spread of the virus. Its greatest impact will be its deterrent effect and expansion of the Quarantine Act. These measures alone could have a huge impact on stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Laurelly Dale is a criminal defence lawyer with Dale LawContact her at

Interested in writing for us? To learn more about how you can add your voice to The Lawyer’s Daily, contact Analysis Editor Peter Carter at or call 647-776-6740.