Toronto Police mounted unit officers stand by as police take action to put an end to the protests in Ottawa on February 18, 2022. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

On February 14, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the federal government was invoking the Emergencies Act. This never-before-used law authorizes “special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times.” Passed in 1988, it is a last resort for managing a crisis that “seriously endangers the life, health, or safety of Canadians.”

The federal government said it was necessary to use these extraordinary powers to end the anti-vaccine mandate protest that had been ongoing in downtown Ottawa since late January.