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Daniel Henstra, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and associate professor at the University of Waterloo, said emergency measures were intended specifically for events like pandemics and wars and would have been surprised if one wasn’t declared.

“Certainly COVID-19 is exactly the type of emergency that this legislation was intended for,” he said, but added they aren’t to be taken lightly.

Invoking a federal state of emergency temporarily, said Henstra, grants a “great deal of power” to the prime minister and cabinet.

Under the Emergencies Act, officials would have the right to take over property, public utilities, provide special...

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