Trudeau defends vax warrants, Emergencies Act ruling, in interview


Justin Trudeau says people who have chosen not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 must accept the consequences of those decisions, including job loss and restricted access to transportation and other services.

“It was their choice and no one was ever going to force anyone to do something they didn’t want to do,” the prime minister said in an interview with CBC Radio. The House broadcast on Saturday.

“But there are consequences when you don’t. You can’t choose to endanger your colleagues. You can’t choose to endanger the people sitting next to you on a plane,” Trudeau said. before leaving for international summits in Africa and Europe.

Federal vaccination mandates played a major role in last fall’s election campaign and emerged as the center of public anger earlier this year, contributing to the occupation of downtown Ottawa and blockages at border crossings in four provinces.

More protests are planned in the nation’s capital over the Canada Day long weekend, even though the federal government lifted most restrictions this week.

Trudeau spoke at length during The House interview about the unrest, how his government reacted to it and whether his own comments referring to protesters coming to Ottawa as a “small fringe minority” with “unacceptable views” contributed to the anger.

“No. I will always shout at unacceptable rhetoric and hateful language wherever I see it,” he said, insisting his January remarks were never aimed at vaccine hesitants, but at those he believed were deliberately spreading misinformation and misinformation.

“Now, unfortunately, with… our modern world of social media and communications, this has been taken over and confused and extended. And I’m not going to start saying I was taken out of context, but my point was that there are people who deliberately try to stir up hatred, intolerance and misinformation,” he added.

“And we need to call those people even as we continue to do everything we can to thoughtfully and reasonably reach out to people who have worries or concerns and focus on allaying those worries and concerns.”

Trudeau on divisive positions

There is more than a little Pierre Trudeau in Justin Trudeau the longer he is in office. There is no public doubt and, increasingly, no regret. Like his father, the young Trudeau is not inclined to back down from a political fight, especially over his decision to invoke the Emergencies Act.

The Prime Minister argued in the interview that the use of the powers of law did nothing to block freedom of expression or peaceful assembly. The line was drawn, he said, when it was clear to the government that it was an illegal occupation.

He likened his decision to end the protests, and the language he used to condemn those advocating illegal actions, to criticism of his decision that every Liberal candidate must endorse a woman’s right to choose.

“Well, I’ve been accused of being divisive on this because people who deeply believe in being anti-abortion have therefore been excluded from my views on this,” he said.

“Whenever you are going to take a strong position, especially a contested position in society, there will be people who will feel that you are strong against them. And what you need to do at every stage of time as a leader is to determine whether or not it’s worth the division standing up for something that you know is right, and whether it’s the rights of women or the freedom of people to be protected during a pandemic.”

Chris Hall, CBC National Affairs Editor and host of The House on CBC Radio, interviews Prime Minister Justin Trudeau virtually from his home at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Monday, June 20. (Philip Ling/CBC)

Formal reviews are currently underway into the reasons for the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act for the first time. And as with the decision itself, these hearings are not without controversy and drama.

Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino told the parliamentary committee in April that the law was invoked on the advice of the police. Since then, two other cabinet members, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, told the same committee that they had not heard police recommendations to enact the emergency measures.

“I’m not aware of any recommendation from law enforcement,” Blair said.

We asked Trudeau who was right.

“We’ve had a range of advice from Justice. From Public Safety. From various areas,” he said. “But if you think about the specific tools, one of the concrete complaints was that the tow truck drivers were unwilling to send their rigs out at the cost of being reported or harassed by these protesters.”

Is that what tipped the balance?

“Well, no…I said, ‘Okay. What are the tools to get tow truck drivers to do this?’ And we saw that one of the only tools we had that was going to be effective in the time needed was to bring in the Emergencies Act.”

Opposition MPs are demanding full access to the decision-making process before the law is invoked. But witnesses, including RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and CSIS Director David Vigneault, told them they had no authority to release their conversations or advice to cabinet.

“I can’t speak specifically to the advice that was given to the cabinet,” Lucki told the committee last month when asked if his force had suggested the law be enforced.

She also differed when asked if any situation reports of what was happening would be made public, saying such reports belonged to the government.

The prime minister said The House that the government will release these situation reports and what it called “the reality we were facing across the country.”

But demands that he renounce the long-standing practice of maintaining Cabinet confidentiality will not be met, he said, to ensure ministers have the confidence to speak freely on matters of national importance. .