Allan Rouben, a lawyer, discussed the economic measures in the Emergencies Act. He noted the basic questions that are required to be asked, one of which is whether they cast too wide a net. A protesting person or persons must be shown to represent a serious threat to public order. He then read a series of other provisions concerning cessation of use or lending of property to benefit those accused of destabilizing the security of the state. The freezing of bank accounts is seen as an extraordinary remedy, require extensive justification before a court. He quoted David Sacks who published an article in The National Post on February 22, 2022, showing how the use of the Emergencies Act created a class of economic “untouchables”. The economic measures used, Rouben argues, were extreme and unjustifiable—and that is likely why they were revoked, because they could not survive legal challenge. The individuals affected may well have claims for damages, he argued.
In response to questions from the moderator and the panel, Rouben argued that the media ought to have been doing a much better job in critically examining the blunt use of the Act. Fortunately, there are many cases going before the courts. In his view, the problem is not with the current legislation, but that government went well beyond what legislation permitted—thus it’s not clear that legislation would fix that problem. And if banks went along with the government, it is because they were mandated to do so, but they should have been yelling and screaming about this going against all norms, and there should have been checks and balances.