lone canadian protester
© AP / The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
A lone protester stands draped in the Canadian flag at a temporary fence controlling access to streets near Parliament, in Ottawa, February 20, 2022.
The Canadian House of Commons has authorized an emergency measure to crack down on those protesting against vaccine mandates. The measure was initially invoked by the federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as mass demonstrations paralyzed the country's capital.

Lawmakers voted in favor of the Emergencies Act by 185-151 on Monday night, in a motion put forward by the government intended to grant itself increased powers to deal with the protests.

Members of the New Democratic Party joined with Trudeau's Liberals to pass the measure, while Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois voted in opposition.

The act - which before this month had never been used - is designed to grant the government additional powers during emergencies, but must be ratified by a parliament vote after federal officials first invoke it. If Canadian senators vote similarly, the measure will remain in force until mid-March at the latest.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first invoked the act earlier this month following weeks of Covid mandate protests in Ottawa, and earlier on Monday said its powers remain in effect, even after declaring that "blockades" created by demonstrators had ended. He added that he does not want to keep the policy in force "a single day longer than necessary," but insisted Canada's "state of emergency is not over."

Aided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ottawa authorities engaged in a brutal crackdown against the protesters over the weekend, using batons and projectiles as well as riding horses directly into crowds. Over 200 demonstrators were arrested and at least 76 vehicles seized. Ottawa's mayor said those vehicles could be sold off under the Emergencies Act, while dozens of bank accounts belonging to protesters, containing a total upwards of $3.2 million, have already been frozen under the act, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said on Saturday.