Fact-check: Did Canada declare martial law because of truck driver protests?
Facebook post: “Trudeau declares Emergencies Act amounting to near martial law in Canada.”
PolitiFact's ruling: False
Here's why: The Emergencies Act invoked in Canada to quell protests gives specific powers to the federal government, police and banks, but one social media claim says it goes much further.
"Trudeau declares Emergencies Act amounting to near martial law in Canada," says the caption on a Feb. 14 video posted on Facebook. The caption continues, "One of the powers is they can immediately seize anyone’s bank account funds without any redress."
The video is footage of Trudeau, who says, "The federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act, to supplement provincial and territorial capacity to address the blockades and occupations."
The video was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. For this check, we’re looking specifically at the claim that Trudeau’s move is tantamount to martial law.
Typically, martial law refers to temporary rule by military authorities and involves the suspension of civil rights. Trudeau said he will not call in the military as part of the Emergencies Act.
Canada’s Emergencies Act is being used because of a public order emergency, to deal with blockades of downtown Ottawa and border crossings in several Canadian cities by people protesting COVID-19 restrictions and mandates.
The law will be used to "strengthen police powers to impose fines and imprison people; compel tow-truck companies to help clear blockades; allow banks to freeze the personal and corporate accounts of individual protesters without a court order; and subject crowdfunding companies to anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules," the Toronto Globe and Mail reported.
During a press conference, Trudeau said he wanted to be equally clear about what the Emergencies Act does not do. "We’re not using the Emergencies Act to call in the military. We’re not suspending fundamental rights or overriding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms," he said on Feb. 14, referring to a part of Canada’s Constitution.
In previous comments on Feb. 11, Trudeau said that "using military forces against civilian populations in Canada or in any other democracy is something to avoid having to do at all costs."
The role of the military is not specifically addressed in the Emergencies Act, according to reporting by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Other federal laws such as the National Defence Act would allow Canadian Armed Forces to assist in civil situations if needed, CBC reported.
Under the Emergencies Act, banks can temporarily freeze accounts being used to support blockades without obtaining a court order.
"Banks are likely to focus on specific organizations suspected of coordinating the blockades and accounts receiving donations in large amounts," the Globe and Mail reported. "Accounts belonging to individual donors are not expected to be a key focus of the financial crackdown."
The caption on a Facebook video says, "Trudeau declares Emergencies Act amounting to near martial law in Canada."
Under the Emergencies Act, banks can temporarily freeze accounts being used to support protesters’ blockades without obtaining a court order. But the act doesn’t specify a role for the military.
Trudeau has said he will not call in the military as part of the Emergencies Act. He also said fundamental rights will not be suspended.
We rate this claim False.
Britannica, "Martial law," accessed Feb. 17, 2022
Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News, "The federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act. Here's what that means," Feb. 14, 2022
Facebook post, Feb. 14, 2022
New York Times, "Trudeau Rejects Calls to Use Military to End Protests," Feb. 11, 2022
The Globe and Mail, "Banks grapple with new Emergencies Act powers to curb the flow of funds to support blockades," Feb. 15, 2022
The Globe and Mail, "Emergencies Act will expand powers of Canadian banks to freeze accounts, halt funds," Feb. 14, 2022
The Globe and Mail, "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act to try to bring an end to the blockades," Feb. 14, 2022
Twitter post, Feb. 15, 2022
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Fact-check: Did Canada impose martial law because of vaccine protests?