The Member of Parliament who represents Battle River Crowfoot says he voted against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s motion to employ the Emergencies Act against the so-called “Freedom Convoy” blockading Parliament Hill.
The vote took place in the House of Commons the weekend of Feb. 19.
MP Damien Kurek, who represents most of the region covered by the East Central Alberta Review, had much to say about the Liberal Party’s efforts to employ the Emergencies Act to clear streets surrounding Parliament Hill of the truck convoy and its supporters. “Very, very disappointed it did pass,” said Kurek by phone Feb. 23 from his constituency office.
After the Emergencies Act motion was passed Ottawa police began clearing vehicles and protestors from the Parliament neighbourhoods.
Leading up to the vote MPs had a chance to debate the Liberal government’s motion and Kurek confirmed he did speak in the Commons against employing the act.
The MP stated in his speech he tried to make a point about government overreach and tried to get across that employing the Emergencies Act to clear a blockade was precedent setting as he didn’t agree that a protest against decisions by the Liberal government should get “hit by a sledgehammer.”
The MP also tried to make a point to Liberal and NDP members, who are the ones who passed the Emergencies Act motion, that they should think about how they’d feel if a Conservative government was trying to invoke the act.
Kurek himself noted he doesn’t support economic blockades but also doesn’t feel they’re threatening enough to the country to require the Emergencies Act.
The MP confirmed all Conservative Party MPs voted against the Liberal motion, along with all BQ members. Kurek stated that while the BQ is seen as a leftist party and not often allied with the Conservatives, when it comes to provincial jurisdiction the BQ opposes federal government intervention.
Kurek stated it was nice to hear so much support from Canadians for the Conservative Party’s opposition to the use of the Emergencies Act and noted this issue has probably compelled more people than ever to contact his office.
Kurek’s opinion of the severity of the protest conflicted with what many mainstream media outlets portrayed: a raucous, out-of-control party that was undermining democracy.
Kurek stated he occupies an apartment near Parliament and while seeing armoured vehicles and police checkpoints was sobering the protesting he saw was “largely peaceful.” While the streets around Parliament were full of vehicles and very noisy for a while, after the court order banning honks came into effect it didn’t seem any more raucous than any other urban downtown core.
Kurek also noted he saw the protestors as a diverse group of different ethnicities who just wanted their voices heard and not everyone in the Freedom Convoy should be painted with the same brush. He said he and many other MPs agreed they never felt unsafe near Parliament and were disappointed the Freedom Convoy didn’t get a more accurate accounting.
The MP stated that from people he spoke to many of the protestors were angry that Liberal government pandemic rules cost them their livelihoods and Kurek stated he found it strange the Liberal government was concerned about businesses in Ottawa being affected by the protestors, but Prime Minister Trudeau didn’t seem that concerned about people who’ve lost their jobs.
Kurek noted that COVID highlighted some challenges Canadian society faces, but it was perhaps just a catalyst for something bigger.
He noted he was also concerned with the polarization of Canada and that even as a very loyal member of the Conservative Party he was concerned that people don’t seem interested in discussing different opinions. Kurek pointed out Prime Minister Trudeau, if he hears opinions or criticism he doesn’t agree with, accuses the speaker of being a white supremacist or racist.
Kurek added that he would never accept a society where Canadians cannot have a free, open talk about problems, which is the basis of democracy.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism initiative reporter