Emergency Debate in HOC – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau

Ottawa – Politics – There was an emergency debate in the House of Commons last night.

Each of the party leaders spoke on the situation regarding protests.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

We are here because Parliament is working. We are here to do our job as the government, as parliamentarians, because our democracy is working.

Just a short time ago, we had an election in this country in which we asked Canadians how they wanted to keep fighting this pandemic. Their answer was clear. Canadians chose vaccines. They chose science. They chose to protect one another. Canadians know that is how we get back to the things we love.

Over the past few weeks, there have been protests in various places across the country, particularly here in Ottawa. Of course, people have the right to protest, to disagree with the government and to make their voices heard. That is a basic right that we as a democracy will always cherish and protect.

That being said, people do not have the right to illegally block the streets, to harass their fellow citizens who are trying to get to work or school, or to insult people who choose to wear masks, get vaccinated and be there for one another.

Individuals are trying to blockade our economy, our democracy and our fellow citizens’ daily lives. It has to stop. The people of Ottawa do not deserve to be harassed in their own neighbourhoods. They do not deserve to be confronted with the inherent violence of a swastika flying on a street corner, or a Confederate flag, or with insults and jeers just because they are wearing masks.

That is not who Canadians are. That is not what Canadians demonstrated over the past two years of consistently, continually being there for each other. The people of Ottawa, and indeed people across the country, deserve to have their safety respected and deserve to get their lives back.

From the beginning of this demonstration, our government has been in close contact with the mayor of Ottawa, and with municipal and provincial officials. The RCMP has so far mobilized nearly 300 officers to support the Ottawa Police Service, and is ready to do more. Yesterday, the City of Ottawa declared a state of emergency. We are convening a table with the relevant federal and municipal partners to further strengthen our response. The federal government will be there with whatever resources the province and the city need in this situation.

The Minister of Transport is also working with his provincial counterparts to ensure that people who break the law suffer the consequences.

This blockade, and these protesters, are not the story of this pandemic. They are not the story of Canadians in this pandemic. From the very beginning, Canadians stepped up to be there for one another, to support their neighbours, to support the elderly and to support our frontline workers by doing the right things: by wearing masks, by getting vaccinated and by following public health restrictions. We are all tired of this pandemic. We are frustrated. We are worn down, none more than our frontline health care workers who have been going flat out for two years.

Everyone is tired of having to wear masks and having to follow public health restrictions. Families that test positive, just like mine last week, have to follow public health rules and isolate themselves. Nobody wants to do that. I do not know how many conversations parents have had to have with kids about not going to birthday parties or getting to have sleepovers. This pandemic has sucked for all Canadians, but Canadians know that the way to get through it is by continuing to listen to science, to lean on each other and to be there for each other.

People who yell at others for wearing a mask are not the majority of Canadians, not the vast majority of our country. The majority of Canadians are the millions who got vaccinated, 90,000 of them today alone. They are the tens of thousands who, week after week, have gotten their first dose.

Every day across the country, Canadians step up to get their first doses of the vaccine. That is the story of the country: people who have been there for each other. Everyone is tired of COVID, but these protests are not the way to get through it.

We should not be fighting one another; we should be coming together to fight the virus.

This is not a fight against one another. It is a fight against the virus, and Canadians know that the tools to get through it are science, vaccinations and continuing to do what people have done from the very beginning, which is to step up for one another and make difficult choices. More than ever, Canadians need to continue to be there for each other and to be united.

Members of the opposition have called for an end to the blockades. I salute that. This is the time to put national interests ahead of partisan interests. This is the time for responsible leadership. Democracy in Canada did not happen by accident, and it will not continue without effort. It was a deliberate choice made decades ago to come together, to respect one another and to be there for each other. In every generation, every decade and every day, Canadians continue to live that by choosing to support each other and choosing to do what is necessary to get through another long winter night, to get through another difficult season, and to get through a pandemic.

We have in this country a set of rules, laws and principles that we live by. They keep us safe and protect us. Over the past two years, we have seen measures brought in to keep us safe and measures loosened when things got better. We will continue to follow public health advice, and we will continue to trust science as Canadians work to get through this. That is what people expect.

I know people are tired. We have seen it through the various waves and their receding over the past months. These pandemic restrictions are not forever, but we have to make sure that our shared values and the idea of Canadians being there for each other, supporting one another and respecting each other, have to be here to stay. That is what we are all continuing to stand for.

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