Led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Canadian government is currently invoking “emergency powers” to crack down on peaceful protesters who have rallied in recent weeks against Canada’s COVID-19-related mandates. What should Americans learn from our northern neighbor’s authoritarian turn? BASEDPolitics exclusively interviewed Senator Rand Paul to get his answer.
The libertarian-leaning Kentucky Republican said that his big takeaway was just how dangerous “emergency powers” can be.
“Most emergency [powers] are a bad thing,” Paul said. “Canada has now become Egypt. Egypt is infamous because they have been operating under ‘emergency powers’ ever since Al-Sisi took over in a military junta several years ago. He renews it every 3 months. He can arbitrarily detain people, he just so happens to torture people after he detains them… it’s very, very dangerous.”
“The emergency edict that Trudeau has done in Canada allows him to do some horrendous things,” the senator continued. “It allows him to stop travel, detain people without trial. Now, we don’t know that he’s going to do that, but it’s very worrisome what he might do.”
“Statutes that allow presidents or heads of states to invoke emergencies are very, very dangerous,” Paul concluded.
And they’re not just an issue outside our borders.
“We have the same kind of statutes here and I’ve long been an opponent of these,” the senator warned. “We actually have in the US an emergency act that allows the president to shut down the internet. I tried when President Trump was in office to take this power away. I thought I’d get the Democrats who hate Trump and the libertarian-minded Republicans together and we’ll get rid of this power. I never could get it through.”
We should look at emergency powers reform, he argued, “because these things go on and on. There are some ‘emergencies’ in the US that have been going on for many, many decades and the president can just renew them every year. There’s no real stopping them! Some of us would like to see them expire unless they were affirmatively approved by Congress.”
All these “emergency” powers on the books are not just some archaic inconvenience. Once you start enacting restrictions on some “emergency threat,” those new powers are often used against everyday civilians.
The senator pointed to the so-called “Patriot Act” and the pervasive surveillance powers given to the federal government in the name of combatting terrorism after 9/11.
The result? Mass surveillance of law-abiding Americans and random citizens getting stuck on the “no-fly” list.
“It’s easier to take away liberty than it is to get it back,” Senator Paul warned. “It’s also true that in times of crisis, that’s when government grows larger. Whether the crisis is war, fear of the ‘other,’ or whether the ‘crisis’ is now equating truck drivers blocking traffic with terrorism, when that happens and they take the freedoms away it’s hard to unwind and get rid of it.”
There’s a full blown war on civil liberties right now, and de-banking people is the latest battlefront.@brad_polumbo and I sat down with the most based Senator, @RandPaul, and got his take on the solution (hint: it involves Bitcoin).
Listen here: https://t.co/9zdHZbPh8T
— Hannah Cox (@HannahDCox) February 20, 2022
🚨 I'm excited to share our first BASEDPolitics interview with @RandPaul.
‘If I Could, I Would Give the Truckers Some Bitcoin’: Rand Paul Denounces Canada’s Authoritarian Turn (Exclusive Interview)
— Brad Polumbo 🇺🇸⚽️ 🏳️🌈 (@brad_polumbo) February 20, 2022
He cited, for example, the difficulty he has had trying to get the federal regulation requiring masks on airplanes repealed.
“It was not a law,” he said. “They lie to you every time you get on a plane by saying it’s a federal law. It is not a federal law, it is an unlawful edict by the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC just [thinks] it can do whatever it wants.”
The senator explained that to justify its unilateral imposition of a mask mandate on airplanes, the CDC stretched a vague archaic law on the books that says it “may take such measures to prevent such spread of the diseases as he/she deems reasonably necessary, including inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, and destruction of animals or articles believed to be sources of infection.”
This is the same vague statute the CDC used to justify its effort to block most evictions nationwide, in direct violation of contracts and property rights.
See the problem with “emergency powers” yet? Senator Paul noted again they will inevitably be stretched far beyond their original intentions.
He does have some optimism about ending the mandates.
“It’s becoming increasingly unpopular for Democrats to be for the mandates,” Paul said. “There’s going to come a time when we win… but it’s going to require some Democrats. We only need 2 or 3.”
In Canada, though, opposition to mandates is being squashed in new and alarming ways. The government is freezing peoples’ bank accounts, pressuring crowdfunding platforms, and even attempting (without much success) to restrict the flow of cryptocurrency donations.
Senator Paul said this kind of financial censorship was “worrying.”
“Do you think maybe I should just admit that I sent a million dollars personally in Bitcoin to the truckers?” Paul joked. “I don’t actually have a million dollars in Bitcoin to give. But if I could, I would give the truckers some Bitcoin.”
“Financial privacy is a big part of your privacy,” he said. “If I have access to your visa card records, I probably know more about you than [if I have your] diary.”
The senator added how concerning it was to see people having their access to banking blocked because of their political views.
“We could really get to a terrible situation,” Rand Paul warned. “The more woke it gets and the more crazy things get, the more unfortunate it could become for any kind of personal belief system that is not popular.”