The Canadian Forces won’t be, and shouldn’t be, sending troops to clear the protesters occupying downtown Ottawa, or anywhere else. So said Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU yesterday, as he announced that he would be invoking the Emergencies Act to give the government new powers to ban protesters from certain areas, crack down on their funding, and give police more flexibility in their operations, among other things. While Trudeau declared that the military would not be used to clear the protests, some Ottawa City councillors proposed doing just that. “We firmly believe this is the only next step to get our city back. I have been pushing for this, and I hope you support it too,” tweeted councillor CAROL ANNE MEEHAN. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced yesterday that he was invoking the Emergencies Act to give authorities more power to clear out protesters occupying downtown Ottawa and key border crossings. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade Politics This Morning checked in with ANDREW LESLIE, a former commander of the Canadian Army and (later) Liberal MP who knows the Emergencies Act well. What does he think? “This is not a job for the military,” said Leslie, who now works as a consultant for Bluesky Strategy Group. There’s some debate over whether the occupation of Ottawa and attempts to paralyze border crossings qualifies as reason to trigger the Emergencies Act, as currently written. University of Ottawa professor WESLEY WARK made the case recently in Policy Options that it probably doesn’t. Leslie said it might, but he thinks the PM’s decision was primarily made for political reasons, as pressure has mounted for something to be done by someone. Now in its third week, the occupation of Ottawa’s downtown has pushed many residents to the brink of despair. The owner of a shop in the Byward Market told Politics This Morning yesterday that the protesters, police barricades, and ominous warnings in the media had kept customers away from the Market, and business had dried up: he was lucky to earn $200 a day now, not even enough to pay his staff. He was worried that his business would fold before the protesters left. Ottawa’s police service has—to put it generously—been ineffective at restraining the protesters occupying Ottawa, or making good on police Chief PETER SLOLY’s warnings that violations of the law would be punished. Still, Leslie argued that the solution is for police officers to do their job, not to bring in soldiers to act as enforcers. Why? Leslie said he was concerned “that the application of lethal force might be initiated under circumstances that were unnecessary, because there are other levels of public order, specifically the police forces, which are better trained in the minimalist application of forces.” In other words, don’t send trained killers into a situation where you don’t want anyone to be killed. Instead, Leslie said police officers should lean more heavily on their ticket books, and crack down on the countless minor violations of the laws and bylaws taking place in the protest zones every day. And what of Sloly’s claim that the Ottawa Police Service doesn’t have enough officers to enforce the law? Leslie wasn’t impressed. “If at the first challenge, the visible representatives of law and order are too frightened to do that which is expected of them, when there’s been no overt indication of violence, you can paralyze yourself by indecision. And that’s what’s happened, and now it’s a crisis.” The Ottawa Police Service employs just shy of 1,500 police officers altogether. Leslie noted that the military does have armoured tow trucks that could be called into action, with police escort. That would not require the use of either the Emergencies Act or the National Defence Act, the latter of which is required to bring in soldiers bearing arms. Singh says yes, Senate leaders stay mum The House of Commons and Senate will have to approve the invocation of the Emergencies Act after the fact in order for it to remain in effect. NDP Leader JAGMEET SINGH said yesterday that he would support the use of the act, giving the PM the votes he needs to get it past the House. PTM reached out to leaders in the Senate for comment yesterday afternoon. Only ISG Leader RAYMONDE SAINT-GERMAIN replied. “When called upon, we will be ready and available to serve the best interests of Canadians by carrying out the responsibilities we are entrusted with by the Emergencies Act," she said in a statement to PTM. Those responsibilities effectively amount to supervising the government's use of the act, and ensuring it doesn't keep it in force for too long. In Parliament Today MPs will be debating a government motion to rubber-stamp Bill C-12, which would ensure low-income seniors don't have their Guaranteed Income Supplement payments clawed back if they receive government COVID-19 benefits. The motion would pass the bill through the House without any study or debate, repeating an exercise that took place yesterday for another bill. More on that below. Eleven House Committees are meeting today. The Public Accounts Committee is meeting at 11 a.m. to scrutinize a report from Canada’s auditor general on the Public Sector Pension Investment Board. MPs will hear testimony from the board chair and its CEO, from Canada’s deputy auditor general, ANDREW HAYES, and others. The audit, conducted last year, concluded that everything was more or less A-OK at the investment board, which has opened new offices in Hong Kong, New York, and London within the last five years. We’ll see if MPs on the committee can find anything worth drawing attention to. Also at 11 a.m., Immigration Minister SEAN FRASER will brief the Immigration Committee on “current and projected” immigration processing times and acceptance rates, an issue that Liberal MP JOHN MCKAY flagged as among the most important gaps for the government to tackle in an interview on The Hill Times’ Hot Room podcast in December. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser is giving an update to the House Immigration Committee today. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade At noon, the Procedure and House Affairs Committee will begin a two-hour meeting as part of its review of the Conflict of Interest Code for MPs. The committee will hear from DUFF CONACHER, a determined, unofficial government ethics watchdog with the NGO Democracy Watch, and from former ethics commissioner MARY DAWSON, among others. The Veterans Affairs Committee is meeting at 6:30 p.m. to study the “desecration of monuments honouring veterans,” and will hear from officials at National Defence, Veterans Affairs, and Public Works. In case you missed it MPs spent most of yesterday debating a government motion asking the House to fast-track Bill C-10, which would send rapid COVID-19 tests to provincial governments. The motion proposed to send the bill through the House without any study or debate. The opposition Conservatives opposed the motion, and proposed (unsuccessfully) that the bill be passed within a week, instead of a day. MP GÉRARD DELTELL noted during the debate that, since the Senate isn't sitting this week, a bill rushed through the House without scrutiny would only sit and wait for the Senate to return and look it over. The government was unmoved. The House also voted down a Conservative motion yesterday that had called on the government to table a plan detailing when it would lift all federal public health mandates and restrictions, by Feb. 28. The Liberal and NDP caucuses both voted against the motion, while the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois voted in favour. Finally, the House Board of Internal Economy decided yesterday to extend public health restrictions in the parliamentary precinct until March 11. Those include rules banning public tours, requiring the wearing of masks in certain circumstances, and barring committee travel. In The Hill Times Subscribers to The Wire Report can catch PAUL PARK's coverage of the latest House Ethics Committee meeting on the Public Health Agency of Canada's decision to start using anonymized cellphone data. Subscribers to The Lobby Monitor should take a look at STEPHEN JEFFREY's report on GoFundMe hiring a pair of lobbyists to help them talk to the PMO and other departments. On this day in Hansard history Feb. 15, 1938: It was a cold Tuesday in Ottawa, a city that was proclaimed to be a “Mecca of royal visitors, ambassadors, statesmen, and notables from all parts of the empire and beyond” in a promotional film by the Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau that year. Canada was slowly climbing out of the Great Depression. Canadian artist JOE SHUSTER was trying to find someone to publish his comic books featuring a character called “Superman.” The Bank of Canada would soon be nationalized, and move into its present-day headquarters on Wellington Street. A screenshot from film showing downtown Ottawa in 1938. Image courtesy of the government of Canada The Second World War was looming: that fall, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi state took control of the neighbouring Sudetenland, and German Jews were terrorized in the Night of Broken Glass, while authorities looked on. WILLIAM LYON MACKENZIE KING was Canada’s prime minister, and in the House of Commons, MPs quizzed the government on negotiations to expand free trade with the United States (the two countries having already struck a trade deal in 1935), and one reiterated the concern of the Housewives’ Association of Toronto about the rising cost of food in the city. RENÉ-ANTOINE PELLETIER, a Social Credit MP representing Peace River, Alta., moved that a motion for supply be amended to call for a parliamentary investigation of what he saw as corruption among railway contracts in Canada. Fellow Social Credit MP JOHN BLACKMORE took up the mantle, and proclaimed that neither the governing Liberals nor the opposition Tories were innocent in the matter of political corruption, and ought to endeavour to change things for the better. Eventually, Ontario Liberal J.A. BRADETTE stood to declare that his electoral success had nothing to do with corruption, and that he believed that to be true for all MPs. This went on for some time, before prime minister King entered the debate, and declared that, since no one had “the courage to stand up in this House and say that he has a specific charge to make against any member of the government or of this House,” the Parliament should go on with its regular work, “and not permit itself to be diverted from the business of the country by shadows which are the creation of minds too full of darkness to bring forth the truth they talk so much about.” The debate went on for a great length of time, and terminated when Pelletier withdrew his amendment, the House having determined that a vote on the proposal would have amounted to a matter of confidence in the government. Send news tips and other creations of your darkness-filled minds to email@example.com.