I have been following the coverage of the Canada convoy protest in the news, and particularly the invocation of the Emergencies Act by PM Trudeau. In his announcement, he says:

We're entering the third week of illegal blockades, that have been disrupting the lives of too many Canadians.

Here in our capital city, families, small businesses have been enduring illegal obstruction of their neighbourhoods

He is not alone in his position that the protests are illegal. Doug Ford called the protests "an illegal occupation" last week.

We're now two weeks into the siege of Ottawa. I call it a siege because that's what it is: an illegal occupation.

My question is: What's illegal about it? I can find lots of quotes from politicians saying that it's an illegal protest, but not much about exactly what laws are being broken. I'm not Canadian, and don't know exactly what sort of protests are protected under Canadian law. So I'd like to find out what's illegal in this case.

  • Some protesters have been found with illegal weapons. A war memorial was also desecrated, and other individual acts that are obviously illegal have been reported. I'm not aware that that makes the protest as a whole illegal (but I could be wrong).

  • The blockades are severely economically damaging. Again, to my knowledge, this does not by itself make a protest illegal.

  • The noise is disruptive to the local area. Does Canada have laws against noisy protests?

  • Local emergency powers make occupation of certain areas illegal. My interpretation of the above quotes is that the justification of the use of emergency powers is that the protests are already transparently illegal. Again, I could be mistaken.

  • 1
    What do your road rules say about parking on the road?
    – Trish
    Feb 18, 2022 at 0:11
  • @Trish When protests are involved, I don't know. Blockades are a common tactic. I'm in the UK, and Extinction Rebellion have frequently blocked roads and infrastructure. Protests against airport runways commonly block the access roads to the planned development. It's hard to imagine a substantial protest that doesn't block a road. What's different in this case? Feb 18, 2022 at 0:26
  • Just because something is common doesn't mean it is legal and blocking a large chunk of trade between two countries is going to draw a big reaction.
    – Joe W
    Feb 24, 2022 at 4:58

1 Answer 1


You can't break the law just because you say "I'm protesting"

While Canadians have a right to gather and protest in their charter of rights, such protests must be conducted lawfully.

In the present example, the protesters are blocking roads, bridges and border crossings. This is illegal.

  • civil disobidience isn't so clear cut
    – Kovy Jacob
    Feb 20, 2022 at 12:26
  • 3
    @KovyJacob Are you sure? I think civil disobedience literally means breaking the law. People don't always get in trouble for it (which is why I naively thought in my question that there were different rules). But it seems like that's basically at the discretion of the police. Feb 21, 2022 at 10:57
  • @preferred_anon I mean whether it is protected by freedom of assembly, and where the line is drawn that you aren't protected under the freedom of assembly.
    – Kovy Jacob
    Feb 25, 2022 at 18:47

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