For days, many have speculated whether or not the Trudeau Government will invoke the Emergency Measures Act in response to COVID-19—a measure which will enable the federal government to pass laws and financial measures with little to no oversight or approval from parliament.
While what may come in the event of a military mobilization has been left to mere speculation, we now have the ability to determine what, exactly, that might entail.
A leaked internal document from the Department of National Defense (DND) was provided exclusively to The Post Millennial, outlining the plan for the military's pandemic response.
The Chief of Defense Staff Planning Directive for COVID-19 Mitigation has come from a verified source who is being protected. The source says they are leaking the document because they fear the implications military action might have for Canadian citizens, while expressing that some Canadian Forces Members are reluctant to mobilize in this pandemic against their fellow Canadians.
While Operation LASER, as it is also known, has been a long-standing title of the Canadian military’s pandemic response, the publicly-available details have always been vague.
The leaked document, signed by General Jonathan Vance, states that the Government of Canada is readying to transition into “phase 3,” or “pandemic mitigation” and that the working assumptions for the crisis include that the COVID-19 pandemic “could last 12 months or longer, and may return in multiple waves.” The assumptions also include that “supply chain shortages and transportation disruptions will impact the availability of various medical and non-medical supplies.”
According to the planning guidance, the Canadian Armed Forces expects, at minimum, “to deploy, employ, and sustain up to five battalion-sized elements simultaneously, each capable of force projection.”
The Post Millennial’s source explains that “five battalions” equals roughly 3,000 soldiers. The source also states that Montreal and Calgary have allegedly been identified as areas in need of “pandemic mitigation.”
While the document outlines many operations for the Canadian Armed Forces centered around “humanitarian” efforts during a pandemic, others are more concerning.
One directive states that a contingency plan must be created for “public service support (and potentially assistance to law enforcement agencies) to reinforce quarantine operations centered on Canadian cities, to potentially include in extremis augmentation of security services.”
Another states that the Canadian Armed Forces health services should support provincial health authorities in the “mass vaccination” of civilians “should a vaccine become available.”
The Post Millennial reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office for comment on whether the Emergency Measures Act was planning to be declared, but did not hear back before for publication.
As of March 23, Prime Minister Trudeau has stated that his government hasn’t “taken anything off the table” despite noting that no Provincial government has called upon him to utilize the drastic measure.
The Department of National Defense confirmed that the Canadian Armed Forces “has already implemented early efforts to ensure its personnel remain at the highest level of readiness, given the emerging COVID-19 situation” but denied that there were any requests for assistance in anticipation of the next stage of the Government of Canada’s response plan.
When asked whether they had received any notice as to whether or not the Government was planning on implementing the Emergency Measures Act, National Defense stated that “any such decision would be made by Government and communicated to us at the appropriate time.”