Canada's parliament has approved and extended Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to invoke emergency powers to end protests against the country's Covid-19 restrictions that are now in their third week.
The protests, mainly led by lorry drivers, which Mr Trudeau has called “dangerous and unlawful”, have caused major disruptions in Canada's capital of Ottawa, including blocking roads and bridges and freezing a major trade route vital for the car manufacturing industry.
Although approved by a majority in parliament on Monday, the Emergencies Act, which grants authorities broader powers, was criticised as an abuse of power by members of the opposition.
On Monday, Mr Trudeau defended his decision to invoke emergency powers — the first time the government has taken such a measure in 50 years.
He said local authorities needed more tools to restore order “after weeks of people being harassed in the neighbourhoods, [and] after evidence of increased ideologically motivated violent extremism activity across the country".
“This state of emergency is not over,” he said after protests were broken up at the weekend, restoring some normality in Ottawa.
Police said businesses that were forced to close during the siege “should feel safe to reopen”.
Police arrested 191 people and towed 79 vehicles over the course of two days.
“There continues to be real concerns about the coming days,” Mr Trudeau said.
The protests were initially against Canada’s Covid-19 vaccination requirements for lorry drivers transporting goods across the US border before they expanded into a campaign against the country's broader coronavirus restrictions.
Mr Trudeau said the protests had been infiltrated by foreign elements despite starting out as a home-grown movement.
“A flood of misinformation and disinformation washed over Canada” during the protests, including from foreign sources, he said, and the blockades and occupations “received disturbing amounts of foreign funding to destabilise Canada's democracy”.
Canadians have every right to disagree with him, Mr Trudeau said.
“But you can't harass your fellow citizens who disagree with you. You can't hold a city hostage. You can't block a critical trade corridor and deprive people of their jobs,” he said.