The Canadian Constitution Foundation is challenging Niagara Region’s declaration of a State of Emergency ahead of Monday’s solar eclipse.

CCF’s press release and notice of application are available on their website.

Personally, I think this is a reasonable use of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) because a solar eclipse is an extraordinary event, and Niagara Region will likely be inundated with visitors beyond its usual capacity for tourists.

The CCF advances sound arguments against the declaration, with a focus on impacts to civil liberties.

They state the eclipse does not meet the definition of emergency, which is stated in the Act as: ” a situation or an impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise.”

They explain how Niagara Region already has authorities from other Acts to implement planning for the event, including enacting road closures and crowd control, and that the cited reason of seeking funding from higher levels of government is neither required nor advanced by the declaration.

The CCF is concerned municipal governments will use emergency declarations to sue extraordinary powers at the behest of “activists” regarding social issues.

“If this goes unchecked, it is a virtual guarantee that activists will argue that various social issues like homelessness and climate change also constitute states of emergency,” CCF Litigation Director Christine Van Geyn is attributed as stated. “While these are vexing problems, they shouldn’t be used to give powers to governments extraordinary powers to trample on our rights.”

FWIW, while some municipalities declare social issues as emergencies, they do so as hollow gestures.

Hopefully, Ontario’s Divisional Court will take up the matter, even if moot, to clarify when municipalities can issue emergency declarations.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *