MP Jenny Kwan speech in Parliament on the Emergencies Act

On February 20, 2022, Member of Parliament Jenny Kwan made her speech in Parliament on the Emergencies Act, stating her position and her disappointment with both the Liberals and Conservatives.:

Jenny Kwan (NDP) Vancouver East, BC

"Mr. Speaker, I am sharing time with the member for Victoria.

It is with a heavy heart that I speak to the House today. In what is becoming a phrase used far too often over the last two years, we find ourselves in yet another unprecedented situation. How did we get to the point when the Emergencies Act needed to be used? The fact that we are here debating this is indicative of the fact that all levels of governments have failed to uphold even the most basic laws.

As we know, law enforcement has been paralyzed for weeks. Until Friday, the police response in Ottawa has been to avoid towing or even ticketing vehicles out of fear of confrontation. Indigenous, Black and other people of colour from coast to coast to coast looked at this situation and rightfully asked how heavy-handed those same police forces would have been if they were to crack down on them for attempting a fraction of what they were witnessing. Videos of police forces violently engaging with tent cities in parks for the homeless are circulating, reminding us of how hard police forces criminalize poverty.

It is clear that we are now long past due seriously examining the state and culture of policing in this country, but it extends beyond that. We saw the City of Ottawa change its electronic signs on the highway to properly guide the way for occupiers to reach their destination. The Prime Minister adopted a do-nothing approach and was quick to hide behind jurisdiction when it suited him, yet it is impossible to deny that the Liberals used vaccination as a wedge issue in the election, throwing aside real leadership for partisan gain in the hopes of recapturing a majority.

Meanwhile, Conservative MPs shook hands, vocally supported and even did interviews in front of Canadian flags defaced with swastikas. In support of the occupiers, the Conservative member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke even referenced global “jet-setting resetters”, a clear dog whistle for conspiracy theorists who believe the World Economic Forum is forcing some sort of great reset on society.

The interim leader of the Conservatives, while she blames the Liberals for creating division, in her emails, noting her party's support for the occupation, said, “I understand the mood may shift soon...we need to turn this into the [Prime Minister's] problem.” The only declared candidate for leader of the Conservatives, the member for Carleton, has been cheering the occupiers on from the start. However, here they are in this place, refusing to acknowledge the role they have played throughout the pandemic nurturing the ecosystem of anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists, blaming everyone else for creating division.

In locations across the country, most significantly in the downtown core of Ottawa, we have witnessed over the past three weeks an illegal occupation. Lives have been utterly upended. This illegal occupation shut down business operations in Ottawa's downtown core for weeks. People are too intimidated to leave their homes.

Threats and harassment have been made, some of this abuse has been hurled at health care workers and school children on school property. Retail workers have been assaulted, and a building had an attempted arson where the doors were taped shut. Another building had occupiers attempting to handcuff the doors closed.

Measurements of sound have found unsafe decibel levels for prolonged exposure for residents that could cause permanent hearing loss. Measurements of pollution have shown that trucks idling in the core for this long have had a significant impact on air quality, not to mention the impact on climate change. Large amounts of firearms have been confiscated in Coutts, yet the main organizers of this illegal occupation, with a long history of posting white supremacy rants about Anglo-Saxon replacement theory, like to call it a peaceful protest.

Let us be clear. Hurling racist insults, harassing outreach workers to take food meant for the homeless, entering businesses while refusing to follow public health guidelines and intimidating workers, brandishing symbols of hate like Confederate flags and swastikas, yelling at school children, assaulting journalists, deputizing themselves with unlawful authority to detain people, using international money or cryptocurrencies to help fund this illegal occupation, issuing a pseudo-legal document to overthrow a democratically elected government and to install a governing coalition with the Governor General and Senate, is not peaceful protest.

These are occupiers who, while they complained about their freedoms being infringed on, sat in makeshift hot tubs on Wellington Street. Meanwhile their children, who they brought to the illegal occupation, played in a bouncy castle, with constant loud horns blaring, which could cause damage to one's hearing. The irony is somehow entirely lost on them.

Our Conservative friends, whether it concerns the existence of systemic discrimination, a woman's right to choose, gay marriage, trans rights or a number of other issues that pertain to the freedoms and rights of people in this country, are more than willing to ignore charter rights when it does not align with the views of their base.

The Liberals are not much better. Remember 2015 and the last election under the first past the post? That was scrapped when the identified proportional representation system did not align with what the Prime Minister wanted.

What about the freedom of assembly? Liberals are no better than the Conservatives, tripping over themselves to trample on the rights of workers with back-to-work legislation.

The Conservatives claim they are there for the workers. Although there have been more than 4,800 complaints regarding unpaid wages filed by long-haul truckers to Employment and Social Development Canada in the last three years alone, the Conservatives have been completely silent on this injustice. Not only that, why are they not advocating for the workers at the Rideau mall, which has over 1,000 workers and has been closed for weeks as a result of this illegal occupation. Retail workers in downtown Ottawa have a $0 paycheque at this point.

We are in an unprecedented situation where the Conservatives have essentially cheered on this illegal occupation, while the Liberals sat on their hands, allowing things to escalate unchecked. It never should have come to this. We need a series of thorough examinations on how every level of government let things get to this state.

Make no mistake, the NDP is taking the use of the Emergencies Act very seriously. We will not give a blank cheque to the Liberals. The government will have to stay within the established powers and ensure those extraordinary powers are not abused or we will withdraw our support.

Thus far, police forces have shown great restraint and care as they retake our streets. It is heartening to witness. I sincerely hope this approach becomes the norm and not the exception, especially for peaceful demonstrations where there are indigenous or racialized people.

We need this occupation to end. We are all tired of the impact of the pandemic. We want to return to some form of normalcy. We want to see a plan going forward so Canadians know what they can expect. The NDP called for this when our leader called for an emergency debate back on February 7. All Canadians deserve to be safe and free of harassment. The residents of downtown Ottawa need us to act to ensure their safety and freedoms are protected.

Let us stop the partisanship. Let us get to work, and let us bring back safety for all Canadians. What is equally important after all of this, is for us to look deeply into the situation so we can prevent this from ever happening again. I am thankful for the opportunity to have my voice heard today."

 

https://openparliament.ca/debates/2022/2/20/jenny-kwan-1/

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